Frosting is the cherry on top, the final flourish that makes a cake from ordinary to extraordinary.
Whether you’re making a cake for a celebration or just because you’re craving some of your favorite desserts, understanding how to frost it correctly is a crucial skill.
From making the cake layers to preserving the finished product, we cover it all in this detailed tutorial.
What You’ll Need
It’s important to make sure you have everything you need before you start icing a cake. The things you’ll need are:
- Cake Layers: Make sure your cake layers are at room temperature before assembling the cake. You can either buy the already made or make your own or.
- Frosting: You have a variety of options to choose from when it comes to frosting, including buttercream, cream cheese, and ganache. You can buy it ready-made or make it on your own. In order to facilitate the smooth spreading of the frosting, ensure that it is at room temperature.
- Turntable: A cake-decorating turntable is an essential piece of equipment for making a professionally smooth frosted cake.
- Offset Spatula: Spreading and smoothing frosting with an offset spatula.
- Bench Scraper: If you want your cake to have clean and smooth sides, a bench scraper can help you achieve that.
- Cake Board or Stand: Cake Board or Stand Position the cake such that it can be easily rotated while you are icing it on a cake board or stand.
- Piping Bag and Tips (Optional): You’ll need piping bags and tips if you want to add any decorative features to your cake.
- Cake Leveler (Optional): When trimming the cake layers uniformly, a cake leveler is needed to ensure that they are of the same height.
- Cake Crumbs (Optional): Set aside a few crumbs from the cake to use for decorating or concealing any flaws.
Now that you have everything you need to decorate your cake, we can get started.
How to Frost a Cake
The addition of frosting to a cake is a tasty and visually appealing technique to take your baked good to the next level. The following are the processes that must be taken in order to correctly frost a cake:
- Prepare Your Cake Layers: Before you start, you need to make sure that the layers of your cake have cooled fully and are at room temperature. Even a minor increase in temperature of the layers might cause the frosting to melt or become excessively soft, making it difficult to deal with.
- Level Your Cake: To trim and level the tops of your cake layers, you can use either a knife with a serrated edge or a cake leveler. It is necessary to complete this step in order to construct a solid base for your icing and to provide an even and professional appearance.
- Crumb Coat: Doing a crumb coat prior to applying the final layer of frosting is generally considered to be good practice. This is a very thin coating of frosting that is used to seal in the crumbs from the cake, preventing them from showing up on the subsequent layer. It’s the equivalent of starting work on a blank canvas. Apply a layer of frosting that is uniformly thin and even all over the cake, making sure to cover both the top and sides.
- Chill the Cake: After applying the crumb coat, place your cake in the refrigerator for about 15-30 minutes to allow the frosting to set. This step makes it easier to apply the final layer of frosting smoothly.
- Apply the Final Frosting Layer: Once the crumb coat is chilled and set, you can proceed with applying the final layer of frosting. Begin by adding a generous amount of frosting to the top of the cake. Then, use an offset spatula to spread it evenly, moving from the center towards the edges. Continue by frosting the sides of the cake, ensuring it’s smooth and even.
- Smooth the Frosting: Achieving a smooth finish is essential for a professional look. To do this, you can use a bench scraper or an offset spatula. Hold the tool at a 90-degree angle and gently press it against the frosting while turning the cake. This process smooths and evens out the frosting.
- Decorate: After you’ve achieved a smooth finish, it’s time to unleash your creativity. Decorate the cake as you like, using additional frosting, piping bags, or other decorating tools. Add designs, borders, or any other decorative elements to make your cake unique.
- Clean the Edges: To give your cake a polished appearance, clean any frosting smudges or excess frosting around the cake’s base. A clean, presentable edge enhances the cake’s overall look.
- Store Your Cake: Store your beautifully frosted cake in a cool, dry place or the refrigerator, depending on the type of frosting used, to maintain its freshness.
Tips on Frsodting
Ensure the Cake Layers Are Completely Cool and at Room Temperature
The first and most crucial step in frosting a cake is to make sure your cake layers are entirely cool. If you attempt to frost a cake with warm or hot layers, the frosting will melt, leading to a messy and uneven finish. To avoid this, allow your cake layers to cool in the pans for about 10 minutes, then remove them from the pans and place them on a wire rack to cool completely. This process typically takes around one to two hours, depending on the size and thickness of your cake layers.
Once your cake layers are completely cooled, they should be at room temperature. Attempting to frost a cold cake can cause the frosting to seize or become difficult to spread. Therefore, it’s essential to allow the cake layers to reach room temperature naturally.
Slice Off the Cake Domes
Before you begin frosting your cake, it’s a good idea to level the cake layers. Most cakes naturally form a slight dome shape during baking. To ensure your cake has an even and professional appearance, you can level off these domes. There are different tools available for this purpose, such as cake levelers or serrated knives. If you don’t have these tools, you can use a piece of dental floss or a long, thin knife to gently saw off the domes.
When leveling your cake layers, remember to work carefully and avoid removing too much. A slight dome is perfectly normal, and it can even add a bit of character to your cake. If your cake layers are too thin, it might affect the structural integrity of the cake.
Bring Your Frosting to Room Temperature
Now that your cake layers are cool, and any domes have been leveled, it’s time to ensure your frosting is at room temperature. Frosting that’s too cold will be challenging to spread and can tear your cake layers. To achieve the ideal frosting consistency, take your frosting out of the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. If you’re using homemade frosting, which is often stored in the fridge, this step is essential.
Once your frosting has reached room temperature, give it a good stir to ensure it’s smooth and easy to work with. You’re now ready to begin the frosting process.
Try holding the offset spatula vertically and gently pressing the blade into the frosting for smoother sides. Rotate the spatula around the cake to smooth icing. Using a turntable simplifies this: Gently press the knife or spatula into the icing.
Make, bake, and cool the cake. Wrap each cake layer tightly in cling film and refrigerate for two hours. You must cool your cake before icing it. This step matters most.
We suggest cooling a cake for 2-3 hours before frosting. Apply a crumb coat and refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes. You can then freeze to your heart’s desire.