Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How To Frost A Layer Cake

I promised you a couple weeks ago that I'd show how to frost a cake. And today is that day. Are you ready? I am! Let's get started.

First off, you will need a revolving cake stand (see note below), a large off-set spatula, a leveled and stacked cake on a cake board and an ample amount of prepared frosting at room temperature.

NOTE: The top of the revolving cake stand has a smooth surface to help you to slide the cake off the stand once it has been frosted and decorated. I like to cut a piece of non-stick drawer liner the same size of the round top to place on the top to give me a non-slip surface. When I'm spinning my cake stand around I can be confident in knowing that my cake is not going to fall off of it. Also when looking for a cake stand look for one with a heavy base so that once the top of the cake stand doesn't become top heavy. In a pinch a lazy susan works just fine.

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Before we start, I want to tell you how important it is to have level cake layers. If your cake baked and domed, that's okay, just use a serrated knife and gently saw off the domed tops until they're level. Fill the layers with jam, frosting, or other fillings and stack them on top of eachother- just be sure to stack the cake layers cut side down. If you're layers aren't level, your cake will be crooked or your cake layers may slide off eachother. I filled these cake layers with jam but if you want to use frosting, 1/2 cup between each layer is sufficient.

Recipe: Lemon Blueberry Marble Cake

1). Place stacked and leveled cake on a cake board and place on the cake stand. Plop (technical term) a substantial amount of frosting on top of the cake. Don't put all of the frosting on top of the cake- reserve a little for decoration and piping if you like.

2). Using your off-set spatula, begin to smooth the top of your frosting, all the while working it down the sides of the cake.

3). With the back of the spatula, guide your frosting down the sides of the cake all the way down to the cake board.

4). If you have too much frosting on your spatula, scrape off the excess into a bowl. If you need more frosting, add it to the sides of the cake and continue to cover the entire cake making sure no crumb is visible. Don't be afraid to use the amount of frosting you need in order to get the job done. You don't want to have too little frosting or you'll be be scraping the cake and getting crumbs in your frosting.

5). You just want the cake covered entirely in frosting. Don't worry about what it looks like at this point. It's OK if it's not smooth and beautiful at this point. It will be, and we'll get there together.

6). Now that the cake is covered in frosting, it's time to smooth it out. I start by holding the off-set spatula at a slight angle over the top of the cake, just touching the frosting. I hold the spatula in place and spin the cake stand. Don't apply too much pressure or the frosting will work it's way down the sides of the cake. Keep spinning til smooth and level but don't worry if it's not perfect.

**All throughout this process you should be scraping off the excess frosting. You'll be more successful if you have clean tools**

7). Now we're moving on to smoothing out the sides of your cake. Hold the spatula upright against the sides of your cake. Rather than pressing the backside of the spatula right up against the frosting, you want to hold it at a slight angle. Hold that in place while you spin the cake stand. This motion will smooth out the sides of your cake. Repeat until you're happy with the appearance.

8). Sometimes when you smooth the sides of the cake, excess frosting will work it's way up around the edge of the cake. This is okay because we're about to smooth it out as well as the top again.

9). Grab your spatula and gently approach your cake (see the position of the spatula in step #8). Gently drag the spatula from the outside edge towards the center of the cake. Do this all around the cake til the edges are smooth.

10). Repeat step #6 in order to smooth the top of the cake once again if needed.

11). If you want to add a border to the edges of your cake, add the reserved frosting to a piping bag fitted with the tip of your choice (this is tip #12). Pipe a border around the top of your cake. If you want to pipe a border along the base of the cake, wipe any smeared frosting off the cake board with a damp paper towel before proceeding.

12). I forgot to take a picture of this, but if you have spikes on your beaded border, then gently press them down, one at a time with a damp finger. This will round them out and give them a more uniform look.

13). If you like, you can use other tips to further decorate the cake. I used some of the reserved frosting and tinted it with gel colors for writing on the cake and for making the smaller polka dots on the side of the cake. (I used #3 tip for this).

14). Using a thin flexible spatula, lift the edge of the cake board from the top of the stand. Slide your hand underneath the cake to support it and transfer it to a cake pedestal or plate. Stick a candle in it in and call it a day. Be proud of what you have done!

27 comments:

Julie @ Willow Bird Baking said...

Great step-by-step pictures! I will definitely be referring readers to this tutorial!

Julie said...

Ah! You make it look so easy!!

Katie said...

I always try to do this but never have it turn out as beautifully smooth as yours. I think I need a bigger spatula. Thanks for the tips!

Cindy Andriani said...

great step by step ... love the pictures ... thank u monica for sharing :)

Charlene said...

Another technique is after complete frosting, dip a clean spatula in warm water and smooth. That makes it super smooth.

I like those beaded borders. Thanks.

Debbie said...

Such a gorgeous cake! Thank you for the step by step pics...they are very helpful.

chocolatecoveredgummiebears said...

Beautiful work! Great tutorial too, the pictures and info are incredibly helpful.

Brandy L said...

Great job on the Tutorial! :D

Michel-lee said...

I'm shocked you don't use your wilton icing tip. Shame on you *just kidding*. Sometimes I don't use mine. Great tutorial :o)

Lissaloo said...

You make it look so easy! I can't wait to give this a try, thank you!! :)

The Captain's Daughter said...

Fantastic tutorial! It is your advice and intruction that got me through the cake I decorated last month and I cannot thank you enough. EVERYONE thought the cake was professionally done. And it was, By Monica (by phone) and Janet!

Val said...

Great post!! Thank you for the great tips!!

Ingrid said...

Nice job, Monica! Thanks!
~ingrid

From the Kitchen said...

Monica: I think you need to do an online cooking school. You have such a knack for providing detailed instructions. Lovely job!

Our older son is coming to visit next week and I'm making your coffee ice cream. And the blueberry cake. I, too, cannot pass up Costco's blueberries. We grab handfulls every time we pass them. Yummy!

Best,
Bonnie

Maria said...

Great tips!

www.sweetcreationsbystephanie.com said...

I'm going to bake this cake tonight. I have lemon & I have 2 baskets of blueberries from the Farmer's Market. Looks delicious

Leslie Limon said...

Thanks for posting this. I've always wondered what you're supposed to frost first, the top or the sides. Now I know! :)

Next thing on my Amazon wishlist is an offset spatula! ;)

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

I would be proud if mine looked like yours! I'm okay at this, you are an expert. Of course I don't have the revolving cake stand, which I know would be a big help. I don't make many layer cakes these days...yours is beautiful.

girlichef said...

...and gorgeous indeed!! Thank you for the lesson...you are definitely THE cake guru =)

Natalie said...

great tutorial--I'm bookmarking this to reference when I frost my first layer cake! Yours is PERFECT!

Maranda said...

Awesome tutorial!!! You are so talented!

bella roz said...

Monica, what a great teaching post! thank you so much! I didn't make last month's cake, but have all of the ingredients on my counter right now to make this month's! can't wait! in the meantime, your blueberry lemon cake looks simply wonderful. i have always loved the combo of blueberries and lemon! Excellent post! Roz

Memória said...

Hahaha!! Your hubby did a great job on the photos. He got sidetracked on your boobies on the last few photos, but otherwise, he did a fantastic job LOL!!

The cake looks great! I'm so glad I got to meet your mother!! Happy belated birthday to her!

Healthy and Homemade said...

What a great how to! I think I'll make myself a birthday cake this year and take the time to do it up and make it fancy and frosted. I need to buy baking pans so I can have a round but small cake (just a few servings) then I can go to town making it gorgeous! =D

Connie said...

I love your blog! And thank you so much for this how to ! I have always had trouble with frosting cakes, but that's probably because I never take the time to level my cakes. Now I see that having the cakes flat is a very important factor in making pretty cakes!

Allie said...

Thanks so much for posting this! I needed this little tutorial.

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial. Came here trying to find out if I could (successfully) stack three same-size cakes on top of each other without making the top one smaller (only have one size cake pan). Your lovely photos answered that question. Didn't understand what the lazy susan would be used for, but now get it. Cool! I am not that ambitious, but I love to make family bday cakes. Little by little, they'll get prettier too. Thanks!

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