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Old 12-09-2005, 08:49 AM   #1
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Bakers.....I need your help!

Ok.....I am not a baker by any means. However, I am try to make a really pretty cake for our holiday meal. I practiced last night with a carrot cake with cream cheese icing. I baked it in 2 round pans. The problem came when I frosted the cake. After it was done it was a bit lopsided. Also, how in the world do I get the icing to have a smoother effect (I cheated and used the can frosting).

Here is what I want to fix for our Holiday cake: Butter Pecan with Butter Cream Icing. I want it again to be 2 round cakes stacked. I want to put some frosting between the cake layers. I then want to ice the whole outside. Then on the sides I want to press in crumbled up pecans.

So:
1. How do I get it to where its not so lopsided without cutting it causing crumbs which can get into the icing? Do I turn the top cake upside down?

2. How do I get a smoother finish with the icing?

3. I'd like to add a little something on top of the cake in the center for decoration....any ideas?

Thanks!

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Old 12-09-2005, 08:58 AM   #2
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I'm no pro but when I bake a layer cake I used to encounter the same problem with lopsided cakes. Now, I will bake 3 or 4 round layers. They are much shorter than just 2 rounds and for whatever reason they don't seem to puff up in the middle as much. Another thing I do is to cool them then freeze them a little and then if there is an portion that's uneven you can easily saw it off. And frosting a semi frozen cake is super easy. I'm no good with frostings! Though, for the top you could just make a star or flower out of whole pecan halves. The sides will be covered so you don't need whole bunch on top.
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Old 12-09-2005, 09:07 AM   #3
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A couple of things I've heard to help the process.

1. Cut the rounded center portion of the bottom layer to give you a flat surface for the top layer.

Using a pastry brush, brush off extra crumbs.

Frost the bottom layer abd put the top layer on. If it's lopsided, trim it with a bread knife to make it even and symmetrical.

Apply a crumb layer of frosting. A thin layer of frosting on the entire cake to trap and hold any crumbs. Allow the crumb layer to set.

Apply the final layer of frosting, nuts and topping.
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Old 12-09-2005, 09:21 AM   #4
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I do as Andy suggests - I cut off any bumpy bits, then ensure that those cut sides are the bits in the middle, which usually get a filling anyway! Then both top and bottom are absolutely flat, as they were the 'bottom' of the cake when it was baking!
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Old 12-09-2005, 09:30 AM   #5
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Thanks guys and gals! DH and the kids are going to be spoiled with my practice runs. DH absolutely loves pecans so no chance of him turning away a piece.
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Old 12-09-2005, 10:10 AM   #6
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Do any of you place the bottom layer upside down so the now top of the bottom layer is the flat side and teh bottom is the curved side? That's what I do and it works very well. Also, the crum layer of frosting works great, too.
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Old 12-09-2005, 10:30 AM   #7
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My mother made beautiful cakes, and used the same method as Andy and Ishbel described.
I remember one year, my birthday cake looked like a lotus flower. Another time, I had an angel food cake with a doll in the center, and the cake was decorated to look like her skirt. She was great with frosting...made the roses, and all sorts of fancy stuff.
My hands aren't steady enough for that, but I still make some pretty cakes.
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Old 12-09-2005, 12:32 PM   #8
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As far as getting the icing smooth, treat yourself, go to Walmart and get an icing knife - should be in the crafts section where the Wilton stuff is. It's a big flat knife - you can either get a straight one or one with an offset blade.
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Old 12-09-2005, 12:37 PM   #9
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I have one of those marm and used it but I just couldn't get the icing to look pretty like you see in the bakeries.
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Old 12-09-2005, 12:58 PM   #10
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Also at Wal Mart, in the craft section, Wilton area, there is a cake cutting tool that is a wire suspended between two leggs. The unit is springy with notches on the outside edge of the legs. You can adjust the cut by moving the wire to different notches.

I use this device to cut two layer cakes into three slices each. I then use thin plastic cutting sheets to seperate the layers. I place the first layer on the serving plate and brush the top with a pastry brush to remove crumbs. Then, use a icing spatula to spread home-made butter cream frosting over the cake. Top with suceeding layers and frost each. Finally, frost the top and sides.

A good butter cream icing is easy to work with and stays soft for days (if your cake lasts that long). Be careful with the ratio of butter to super-fine sugar. To mcu sugar will make the icing stiff and grainy. Your edible additions won't stick to the icing if it's too stiff.

Get the tool and several of those thin plastic cutting sheets. They make life so much easier.

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Old 12-09-2005, 01:39 PM   #11
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Ditto to the cake cutter recommendation. I'm cross eyed so I can never free hand it. I really like my cake cutter. Also ditto to the suggestion of using the bottom of one of the cakes as the top layer (bottom facing up). Don't forget to use a clean brush (pastry or bbq sauce brush) to wipe anway any crumbs before you start decorating.
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Old 12-09-2005, 02:05 PM   #12
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When I put the uncooked cake in the pan, I tap it gently to make it even out. I haven't had a problem with them being one sided since I started this. Also, I use the method of the first layer top side down and top layer top side up. I think it produces a better looking cake.
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Old 12-09-2005, 02:32 PM   #13
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This is a tip I got from a Fine Cooking mag for cutting cakes and I tried it out, I've got to say it works pretty well. You get a long piece of fine thread and wrap it around your cake, making sure it's even the entire way around until the string ends cross then you just gently tug it to slice through the cake. This probably doesn't work very well on dense cakes but exceptionally well on light airy cakes. The gal who sent in the tip said she's used it on a bunch of different kinds of cakes and has always worked well.
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Old 12-09-2005, 03:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corazon90
This is a tip I got from a Fine Cooking mag for cutting cakes and I tried it out, I've got to say it works pretty well. You get a long piece of fine thread and wrap it around your cake, making sure it's even the entire way around until the string ends cross then you just gently tug it to slice through the cake. This probably doesn't work very well on dense cakes but exceptionally well on light airy cakes. The gal who sent in the tip said she's used it on a bunch of different kinds of cakes and has always worked well.
Bet you could use dental floss for that.
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Old 12-09-2005, 04:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SizzlininIN
I have one of those marm and used it but I just couldn't get the icing to look pretty like you see in the bakeries.
Hmmm - didn't you say above you used the ready-made icing? In my experience with it, it's always a little 'runnier' than homemade. Why don't you try your own cream cheese frosting with your carrot cake?

PS - Don't use the bakeries as a standard; first of all, you're not a pro, you're a home baker; secondly, I happen to think a lot of bakery cakes look like - well. We won't go there! Decorate a cake to your liking, and accumulate your own skills while you're doing it. Then it will truly be 'yours'!

Here's our old friend, with a page on cake decorating to help you - I LOVE this site!

http://www.baking911.com/decorating/cakes101.htm
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Old 12-09-2005, 04:20 PM   #16
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Or you can add some extra sugar to the can of frosting.
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Old 12-09-2005, 05:58 PM   #17
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Most bakery cakes look better than they taste!!!
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Old 12-09-2005, 06:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
Bet you could use dental floss for that.
As long as it's not flavored. I just used sewing thread.
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Old 12-09-2005, 09:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by corazon90
As long as it's not flavored. I just used sewing thread.
Yooper dialogue please.

If yer not gonna be usin' dat cake knife thingamajig, then ya needs ta be usin' spider-wire. Da stuff is purtineer strong 'nuff to pull yer car outta da ditch. And it's thinner than ma cousin's hair.

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Old 12-16-2005, 03:42 AM   #20
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Um you can put in two pans so you don't have to cut in half or if you must cut in half you just have to use a large knife and be careful. Put cake at eye level and remember to keep cake "even" cut rounded (just a smidge) tops off to keep it flatter. :)
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