How to get straight edges on your buttercream cake: The Upside Down Method

Howdy folks! If you’ve been following me for a while then you  know that I use the upside down method a lot. I mean a lot a lot–pretty much every time my cake is larger than 4 inches in diameter and I don’t plan to turn it into a drip cake. While I’m the first to admit that my icing game isn’t always on point, this method has taken me one step closer to making cakes as beautifully crisp as my favorite decorators on Instagram (Lottie and Belle, anyone? :P). Rather than explain the method each and every time I do it, I decided to make this super thorough and easy to follow step-by-step guide that you and I can both refer to whenever we need it. Hooray! So let’s get started:

To start off, you’re going to need something flat, and you’re going to need to make sure that it fits into your refrigerator or freezer. Of course, it will also need to be large enough to cover the top of your cake completely. I use an extra floor tile that I found in the garage and that would probably be there for the next 10 years if I didn’t re-purpose it.:P However, you can also use a thick piece of cardboard, a large coffee table book, etc. 

You will also need some wax paper or parchment paper and a durable tape such as duct tape. What we’re going to do is wrap our flat surface in the paper, like so:

upside 1

…Don’t mind me….still figuring out this camera lens thing. Anyway, as you can see, I’ve taped it real good with some duct tape. You want to make sure it’s nice and tight. If you flip it over and see some wrinkles in the paper then it is worth it to start again. Those wrinkles will transfer to your buttercream.

white tile 2

Okay, so here’s mine. Ignore the chocolate in the corner (it was under the paper lol). But as you can see it’s on there pretty nicely….no tears, no big air bubbles or anything.

white tile 3

The next step is to spread your buttercream right on top of that surface. If your buttercream has a lot of air bubbles then I recommend  slathering it on in a waving motion. What that means is, instead of scraping it on like butter on toast, you should keep your spatula on the buttercream at all times and sort of “wave” it around to spread it. This will pop any air bubbles and ensure the icing is on there evenly.

building cake 1

After your cakes have cooled check the bottom of each one to see which one has the flattest, nicest look. That one will be the “top” of the cake. Spread  some icing on that surface, like so

building cake 2

And then plop it down on the icing you’ve already put down on your flat surface. Supposedly, icing both will further ensure that no evil air bubbles come out to play.

building cake 3

Now you’ll want to stack your cake as usual. Here I’m using a delicious peanut butter filling.

building cake 4

Notice the cake crumbs all over the place. It’s totally cool though because we’re going to clean those right up!

building cake 6

But before we do, it’s a good idea to stabilize the cake with some straws so it doesn’t slip and slide everywhere. Careful not to push them down too far though or else you’ll see them when you flip the cake over later. 

building cake 7

Okay! Now it’s time for the crumb coat layer. See the extra buttercream surrounding the cake in the previous photo? I like to use my spatula press that up the cake first. That helps prevent any “rings” of frosting layers on the top, like when you let some melted wax dry and then pour another layer of wax over it and you can see where the old wax meets the new wax. So smooth that up first, then continue adding additional frosting up the cake.

icing cake 1

Including the top (which is really the bottom).

icing cake 2

This next part is important. You’ll want to make sure that your cake board  is really centered on the cake and that you fill in any gaps with additional icing. Because, again, air bubbles are evil af. A couple more tips if you’re worried about them ruining your day: Press on top of your cake board slightly to make sure that the layers are really pressed together well. Any air that remains will fart itself out. You may have to smooth the cake one more time, but no biggie! Another tip is to grab a small level and make sure that your cake is completely straight. If it isn’t it will be extremely difficult (if not impossible) to fix it later. Trust me on this. I’m speaking from lots of experience. πŸ™

icing cake 3

After popping the cake in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes, it should be ready for the second coat!

icing cake 5

Slab it on just like you did last time.

final icing 1

And now use a bench scraper to smooth it all out the best you can.

final icing 2

Until it looks a little something like this.

final icing 3

If you want, you can even get started on some of your decorating.

marble decor 1

And once you’re happy with that you can place the cake back into the fridge for another 30 minutes or so.

marble decor 2

Removing the cake is as simple as using scissors to cut the paper around the perimeter.

marble decor 3

But before you flip it, it’s worth it to stick on another cake board. I used more duct tape to do this.

marble decor 4

Now flip it over! And cry because your cake board wasn’t totally centered (okay, I guess that was just me).

marble decor 5

The tile will come off easily, but the paper will remain. Gently peel it off. Don’t worry about damaging the buttercream–it’s nice and chilled.

marble decor 6

And thereeeeee you have it! 

marble decor 7

Super crisp and beautiful edges to you cake. Take that, fondant

Until next time <3

How to get straight edges on your buttercream cake: The Upside Down Method
Article Name
How to get straight edges on your buttercream cake: The Upside Down Method
How to guarantee a sharp edge on your buttercream cake by using the upside down method.
Publisher Name
Amanda Learns to Bake

3 thoughts on “How to get straight edges on your buttercream cake: The Upside Down Method

  1. hallo, im Gita from Indonesia. i’ve learn to bake for 3 years but i still cant good at buttercream decoration. once, i’ve tried to make my own buttercream,i dont know why, its gettin melt. i hope you can share your own buttercream recipe. thank you so much

    1. Hi Greyarsa! I’ve been meaning to post a buttercream recipe for a while, so thank you for reminding me! πŸ™‚ I will try to post it very soon. Most of the time I use American buttercream, which is just sugar, butter, and a little bit of liquid such as water or milk (and flavoring of course). The best tip I ever got was to start out with a 2:1 ratio and go from there. So if you use 2 pounds of sugar, make sure you use 1 pound of butter. Then you can thin it out a little bit with your liquid. A little bit of liquid goes a long way so I add just a spoonful at a time until the buttercream is nice and smooth. It is very hot and humid here in Texas, USA, but my buttercream holds up pretty well. Another thing that some people do is replace some of the butter with vegetable shortening instead. Vegetable shortening stands up to the heat a lot longer than butter, but it alters the flavor of the buttercream a bit. If they sell butter flavored extract in Indonesia you can add a little bit of it to bring back that buttery flavor. And of course, don’t be afraid to keep your cake cool in the refrigerator for up to an hour before serving! That has saved me on a lot of occasions. I hope these tips help you a bit. I will post a step by step tutorial soon! Thanks for writing. πŸ™‚

      1. hi, amanda..i’m so delighted bout you reply my messages, can’t wait to try your recipe.. thanks..hope we can stay in touch because there’s still so many things i wanna ask you..and i hope you wanna share some of your knowledge and experience..thank u so much..

Leave a Reply