How To'sTips

How to Frost a Cake

By Christopher Stewart | May 8, 2013

cake, frosting, how to

Photo: Olga M.

I have a major sweet tooth, especially when it comes to cake and cakes with rich and super creamy frosting. I’m not sure what’s better, a slice of  moist fluffy cake or the thick layers of decadent frosting. Picture perfect cakes are a pleasure to look at in bakery windows everywhere and even better when you can eat them. Cake decorators all over each have a different technique for frosting the perfect cake, just like chefs have their techniques for slicing super thin vegetables. When baking and frosting cakes at home, unfortunately a cake decorator isn’t next to you guiding and directing your swirls of creamy frosting (until now). Frosting in hand you are wondering how they do it, perfectly every time with every cake.  Make your cake the centerpiece of your next birthday or event with these helpful tips on how to frost a cake. 

You can find delicious cake recipes at the bottom of this post. 

Equipment list:

Frosting a cake is not so much about the cake and the frosting as it is the equipment you have on hand. Having a cake board that is slightly larger than the actual cake will help keep things tidy and allow you to pick the cake up and down when needed without messing up the sides. A turning cake stand is also helpful in frosting your cake. The spinning motion will help promote a steady and even spread. If you do not have a cake stand, do not fear, simply turn a cake pan upside down. An offset spatula is a great way to spread your frosting and to get in tiny corners of the cake. Using a regular butter knife will work as well.

cakes, cooling, how to

Photo: Olga M.

Temperatures and Layers: 

The correct temperatures of your needed ingredients when frosting a cake are vital. Cool your cake completely before frosting. If your cake is too hot, the frosting will melt. A chilled and cold cake, and warm room temperature frosting are the perfect match. Layering your chilled cake is also important. No one wants a uneven cake. Trim off any uneven extras, and also trim off the “hump” in the middle of your cake with a serrated knife. Without the hump, the additional layer of cake will sit evenly on top. For sturdiness to achieve a even layer when slicing, use your frosting as a sugary glue. Place about a tablespoon of frosting in the middle of the cake stand (or cake pan), place cake board on top, and then place another tablespoon of frosting in the middle of your cake board. When the first layer of cake is placed on top of the frosting, this will help the cake stay centered and secure.

Final Touches: 

Now that your cake is secure and your layers are even, it’s time to frost your entire cake. Starting with the first layer, scoop about 1/2 cup of frosting onto the middle of your cake and begin to spread the frosting outward and evenly in a circular motion towards the edges. Place your second cake layer on top of frosting and spread a thin even layer of frosting all around the cake including the sides, and place your cake in the fridge to chill for about 30 minutes. This 1st layer of frosting called crumb coating, is designed to catch any loose crumbs and also to set the crumbs. After your crumb coating has chilled, frost the entire cake again in smooth even strokes, this time with more frosting.

Your cake is now beautifully frost, and picture perfect! Dig in!

Need cake recipe ideas?

Chocolate Birthday Cake

Chocolate Avocado Vegan Cake

Coffee Cake with Coffee Icing

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