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Bake It Easy: The Right Way to Use Buttercream Under Fondant

If you’re new to cake decorating, the directive, “Start with a chilled, crumb coated cake,” may leave you with more questions than answers. Crumb coated with what? Chilled how? Never fear, my cake newbies, I’m here with the answers you need to confidently prep your cake for a snug, sugary coat of fondant! 

Covering a Cake With Buttercream Under Fondant

First things first

The vast majority of cake decorators cover their cakes with either ganache or buttercream before applying fondant. For help covering your cake with ganache, check out my earlier post here.

As for buttercream, there are two general camps: meringue based or crusting. My personal preference and the preference of many cake designers is to use meringue-based buttercreams under fondant. Both will work just fine, so if you’re team American buttercream, then go for it!

Finally, you must chill. 😎 Cold, firm cakes are the best canvas for achieving smooth fondant success whether you use ganache, meringue-based buttercream or a crusting buttercream. 

How to use buttercream under fondant

Step 1: Prepare the cake

Trimming the Sides of a Layer Cake | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

All images via Erin Bakes unless otherwise noted. 

If your cake’s edges are on the crisp side, it’s a good idea to trim down to the soft fluffy cake interior before crumb coating. Hard edges under fondant can leave your finished product with lumps and bumps. Plus, the crunchy cake crust may be less palatable to your guests if they do end up peeling the fondant away.

Another added bonus is this gives you the opportunity to truly get your cake shape in check. Smooth sides are key when prepping your cake for fondant. 

Step 2: Layer on the buttercream crumb coat

Scoop a few cups of buttercream into a smaller bowl and reserve the remainder for your final coat. Working from a small bowl will prevent you from contaminating the whole batch of buttercream with little speckles of cake crumbs.

Crumb Coated Layer Cake | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Crumb coat your cake following these directions. Then pop the crumb coated cake into the fridge for 10 minutes or so, just long enough for it to set up firm. 

Step 3: Add a thicker coat

Thicker Second Layer of Buttercream | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Working from the clean bowl, apply a thicker finishing layer of buttercream. You want to apply enough buttercream so that no solid portions of cake show through, but not as much as you would if you were leaving this as your finished cake.

It’s OK if you can make out where some of the cake is beneath the buttercream. The goal is to avoid leaving areas that will be dark enough to show through the fondant. Return the cake to the fridge until it is chilled solid.

Step 4: Shave the cake

Smoothing Buttercream with a Bench Scraper | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Yes, you read that correctly! This is my own personal tip that has worked for me for years. It’s a real game-changer and has helped me to achieve smoother cakes with sharper edges. 

When you’re ready to cover your cake with fondant, scrape the surface of the cake with a metal bench scraper that’s been dipped in warm water then wiped clean.

This final “shave” over the chilled buttercream will crisp up your corners and remove any spatula lines or bumps left behind after your crumb coat. Scraping the cake in this way also helps to gently rough up the slick smooth surface of the chilled buttercream, giving your fondant a more secure surface to adhere to. 

Step 5: Get rolling

Buttercream Finished Cake Ready for Fondant | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

As soon as your cake is ready to go, get that fondant moving. Here are some instructions for rolling out fondant and covering your cake.

While you’re rolling out the fondant, keep the cake in the fridge: Applying fondant to a solid, chilled cake is a far easier endeavor than trying to cover one that’s warmed up and squishy. Return your cake to the fridge to firm it back up if at any point you feel it’s gotten too soft.

If the surface of your cake feels too slick or solid for the fondant to adhere, brush or spritz it with a very light coating of water before applying the fondant. 

For answers to all of your fondant questions and some quick tips, check out this 1fondant FAQ post!

8 Comments

gali

CAN YOU USE smb. for this ?

Reply
gali

OK JUST SEEN IT , thank you

Reply
Mariam

I find that after covering the condensatio n makes fondant sweat. How do i deal with this problem?

Reply
Erin Gardner

Are you refrigerating your cake after it’s covered with fondant? It’s always best to box a fondant covered cake before putting it in the fridge to protect it from the humidity in there. If you take your cake from the fridge and it begins to sweat, just give it some time! As the inside and outside of the cake acclimates to room temperature the sweat will dry out.

Reply
Jenelle

Question, if the fondant cake is taken out the fridge and after it comes to room temperature, won’t the butter cream get soft and perhaps the fondant might sag, therefore, losing the sharp edges as well especially in a warmer climate?

Please help, I’ll appreciate the assistance. Thanks!

Reply
Amelia Baljit

Following. As I live in a warm climate and that happens to me.

Reply
Tracy

Can you shave chilled crusted American Buttercream?

Reply
Narelle

I have always crumb coated my cakes with ganache … only because I have been nervous to use buttercream. Do you have to refrigerate your cake if using meringue based buttercream for the crumb coat under fondant? I wouldn’t usually refrigerate my fondant covered cakes. Thanks for your assistance.

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