I love the Viva Paper Towel Method method of smoothing frosted cakes!
What is the Viva Paper Towel Method of Smoothing Buttercream?
With the Viva Method of Smoothing Buttercream, a cake that is frosted with a crusting buttercream can be lightly smoothed with a paper towel.
Since the frosting has crusted, it does not stick to the paper towel. The imperfections in the frosting can easily be smoothed away!
Not only is this method an effective way to smooth around the sides and top of buttercream frosted cakes, it is fun too! Once you get started, you won't want to stop- it is addictive ;0)
Why are Viva Brand Paper Towels Needed for this Cake Decorating Technique?
Viva brand paper towels are perfectly smooth- unlike most other brands, they have no quilting or patterns.
What is a Crusting Buttercream?
A crusting buttercream is a type of frosting that develops a very light crust after sitting out in the open air for 10 minutes or so (sometimes it develops faster).
This thin "crust" is not noticeable when eating a bite of cake, but once the very thin crust has developed, you can lightly touch the frosted cake without removing any frosting.
This crust makes it possible to lightly smooth a paper towel over the frosting and lift it away without messing up the finish of your frosting. Instead, it makes the finish even more smooth.
Other Methods of Smoothing and Decorating Cakes
Over the years I have flip flopped back and forth between this method of smoothing and the Hot Knife Method. The Hot Knife Method involves smoothing frosting over a chilled, frosted cake with a very hot spatula.
These are my two favorite methods- Give them a try and see what you think!
Textured Buttercream is a Great Option Also
Years ago, when I first started learning about cake decorating, most cakes were frosted with a smooth finish.
These days, anything goes- textured and rustic cakes are popular as well as cakes covered in piping. I'm a big fan of finding what works best for you as you develop your style.
Materials used in our viva method tutorial
This is an 8 inch, three layer cake which is made from the White Almond Sour Cream Cake recipe (doctored mix found in the Recipes section--also known as WASC) --
I'm using our High Ratio Buttercream recipe for this but any crusting recipe will do ("Classic Buttercream" & "Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream" are two other examples from the Recipes section)
Cardboard Cake Circle cut to the size of the cake (or foam core board--½ inch)
Fondant Smoother (optional)
Viva Brand paper towels (or any brand of paper towel or napkin that is completely smooth, with no quilting or impressions.)
Remember, the crumb coated cake should be at room temperature when applying the final coat of frosting. Otherwise, the frosting will not crust properly.
Tie Dye Cake- Colorful Example of Viva Method of Smoothing
We used the Viva Paper Towel Method of smoothing when we created this fun Tie Dye Cake Tutorial!
We also used it when creating a video tutorial for leopard print buttercream cupcakes and our camo cupcakes video.
In these examples, we piped on the colors, allowed them to crust, and then smoothed over the frosting.
We hope that you enjoy experimenting with this fun technique!
Hi Chantelle- Our cream cheese frostings can be easily smoothed with a hot metal bench scraper (I like to chill the tier first), but since they are softer, they don't work quite as well with the Viva paper towel method of smoothing. You may want to look online for "crusting cream cheese frosting" recipes if you'd like to use the Viva method, or are looking for recipes that can sit out for longer or that behave more like buttercream. Some decorators use cream cheese flavorings with their favorite frosting recipes so that they can sit out for longer. Another option is to use your favorite cream cheese frosting in the filling, and then combine that cream cheese frosting with your favorite buttercream recipe for the outer frosting so that it will behave more like buttercream. We should work on a crusting cream cheese frosting recipe for our site too.
I have the same issue as Donna above. I don’t see a reply to her question. Also, I love your videos!
@Valerie- Hello! I just scrolled up to find Donna's question- are you having trouble with keeping an even amount of frosting around the sides of the cake also?
After crumb coating the cake with a thin layer of buttercream, I go back in with a thicker layer for the final coat. I take my bench scraper and make sure that the bottom of the scraper is flat against the pedestal or turntable so that the edge of the bench scraper is completely vertical and not slanted as you are applying it to the cake. This will give you an even amount of frosting all the way around the cake from top to bottom.
Also, before frosting the cake, make sure that your cake layers look even after filling and stacking them..if any of the layers are poking out, more than the others, you can trim the sides down a bit with a serrated knife.
Let us know if you have any more questions!