How to Frost a Cake

How to Frost a Cake

A beautifully decorated cake with smooth cream and intricate toppings always makes us stop. If you've never frosted a cake before, the process can seem intimidating. But the sweet results are worth the effort, which is why we're walking beginners through the cake frosting process. Next, we'll explain which tools you'll need, how long to let the cake cool before decorating, and the best way to apply frosting and decorations.

Basic Tools

Before you start whipping the cream, there are some basic tools that make frosting on cakes easier. Our must-haves include a small spatula for frosting cupcakes or smoothing hard-to-reach areas and a large spatula for icing larger surface areas. Another handy tool for creating super smooth icing layers is a bench scraper, which prevents streaking.

No matter what type of cake you're trying to frost, baking experts will tout the benefits of using a rotating cake turntable. The turntable allows you to quickly rotate the cake clockwise or counterclockwise instead of trying to go around the other side of the cake for frosting. However, you can always place the cake directly on a decorative cake stand or tray.

Cake Cooling

Once fully baked, it is very important to let it cool before frosting or filling the cake. This is important because it prevents the buttercream or frosting from melting when applied to a hot cake. According to Betsy Thorleifson, the owner and chef of Nine Cakes, ”The cake layers should be entirely cooled for several hours before filling and frosting—if not refrigerated until the next day if time allows. The layers are much easier to work with if properly cooled,”

Crumb Coating

Think of the crumb coating as a primer - it's a thin layer of frosting that helps seal the outer layers of the cake and prevents any crumbs from mixing into the beautiful decorative cream or mousse layer. It also ensures a clean finish. To coat the crumbs, just spread a thin layer of frosting over the entire top and sides of the cake and let it cool. 

Cake Decorating

When frosting a cake, should you frost directly on the decorated cake stand? Actually it depends on the size and decoration of the cake. If it's a larger cake, it's easiest to freeze the cake and let the cake cool. Once cooled, it's easier to transfer to a cake stand or plate for decoration. However, smaller cakes can be more easily transferred to a cake stand without cooling. Either way, do not adding any decorations, such as edible flowers, gold foil, or sprinkles, until the cake is transferred to the serving counter. Feel free to add strips of parchment paper around and under the cake to protect the cake stand. Before serving, wipe down any bits of the cake stand with a damp, clean towel.

Just like with the crumb coating, you should use a spatula and a bench scraper to spread the buttercream on the top and sides of the cake for a polished finish. Add decorations immediately after the cake is frosted; the cream should still be soft to the touch and act as the glue that holds the decorations in place. You can also use piping bags with snug tips for more intricate designs, such as basket weaving, scallops, or flowers on a cake.

If you have more questions about cake frosting, please feel free to leave a comment in below or email us directly at

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