Before cake combs were popular, home baker made striped buttercream look using piping bags, but stripes were uneven and a bit wonky because it is hard to keep the hands steady. If you are a perfectionist, you will love how these cake combs do all the hard work of creating perfectly spaced stripes! And after a few rounds of practice, you sure will learn all the secrets of ensuring flawless buttercream stripes, every time.
The cake Comb set usually comes with three combs that are double-sided, meaning you can get six different looks in one little set. You can use any of these combs on your buttercream finish to get a cool, textured look that’s picture-perfect. For this tutorial, in particular, the comb with the square cutouts is exactly what you need for stripes. As you drag it through your buttercream, those little squares will carve out ridges that can be filled with any color you want, then smoothed all together for a flawless striped finish.
YOU WILL NEED:
A 6-inch cake that’s been crumb coated and chilled
2 batches of vanilla buttercream
Icing Comb Set
Food color gels of your choice
A piping bag
STEP 1: FROST AND SMOOTH THE CAKE:
With your crumb coated cake on the turntable, frost a layer of buttercream onto the top of the cake and smooth it with your angled spatula. Then, add a thick layer of buttercream to the sides of the cake and use your icing scraper to smooth it until the sides are even.
The layer of frosting on the sides of the cake should be thick and deep enough for your cake comb to pass through and create ridges, about ¼ inch or more. Don’t worry about creating the sharp edges on the top of the cake just yet, only focus on getting those sides nice and smooth.
STEP 2: CREATE RIDGES WITH THE CAKE COMB
Next, hold the cake comb next to the cake at about a 45-degree angle towards you and gently turn the turntable. You’ll want to gradually create these ridges, so be sure to only apply a tiny amount of pressure at first. Each time you go around the cake, clean your cake comb completely by holding it under running water and drying it. You want it to be free of any buttercream bits to create perfect ridges.
If you find that there are holes or gaps in some of the ridges, fill them in with buttercream and go over them again with the cake comb. Also, if your ridges are tearing when you pass over the buttercream with the cake comb, it most likely means that your buttercream is too stiff. Luckily there’s an easy fix! Simply add a little bit of room temperature milk to your buttercream and mix it with your mixer for a thinner consistency buttercream. Then, add the buttercream wherever your ridges have ripped and smooth them over with the cake comb.
Keep going around the cake until your ridges are more than ⅛ inch deep. Once you’ve reached the ideal depth, use your angled spatula to create sharp edges on the top of your cake. Swipe the buttercream from the outer edges toward the center of the cake until those edges look sharp and the top of the cake looks smooth and even.
STEP 3: CHILL THE CAKE
This step is critical to creating evenly spaced buttercream stripes because if you skip this step and the buttercream is too soft, the stripes can spread and look uneven. Simply pop the cake in the refrigerator and chill the buttercream for at least 30 minutes, until it’s firm to the touch.
STEP 4: FILL THE RIDGES WITH COLORS
Add your favorite food color gel to the remaining buttercream and mix it up. Use any food coloring to make colors of your choice. Add the colored buttercream into a piping bag and snip off about ¼ inch opening on the end. With your chilled cake on the turntable, pipe the colored buttercream into the ridges. It’s best to overfill the ridges rather than underfill them – you want to make sure that the colored buttercream reaches every space within the ridge.
STEP 5: SMOOTH THE STRIPES
Finally, use a clean icing smoother to go around the cake several times and remove the excess colored buttercream. You’ll want to clean the icing smoother every time you go around the cake to ensure that you’re removing as much of the colored buttercream as you can.
This step requires a bit of patience, but as you carefully smooth and remove excess buttercream, you’ll see those perfect stripes start to peek through. Continue this process until all of the excess buttercream has been removed and those stripes look perfect!
From here, you can continue decorating the cake if you wish. Add your favorite sprinkles, a buttercream border using Wilton Tip 1M, or any candy of your choice.
The best part about this technique is that you can use any stripe color combination you want! Just follow the above steps and you’re good to go. I hope this tutorial gives you more confidence in creating buttercream stripes.