How to Frost a Cake- in 10 pictures.

Frosting a two layer cake doesn’t have to be daunting.  You don’t have to be a math genius, or an abundantly creative person.  It’s just cake!  You’ll just need a plane cake, some frosting, a smile on your face, and a few basic kitchen supplies.

Ok, the smile is optional, but it generally helps.

Make the jump and let’s frost a cake!

You’ll need a few supplies besides a cake and frosting in order to make this happen.

Cake cardboard

Cake boards come in all different sizes.  I usually use a board that is 1-inch larger than the cake pan I baked in.  If you don’t have cake boards, a kitchen plate would be just fine!  Just make sure that the center dip in the plate isn’t to deep.  You could also decorate directly on a pretty cake stand!

Revolving cake decorating stand

These stands make frosting a decorating a breeze because the cake moves easily.  I have this plastic Wilton stand at home and it works great!

Cake decorating knife or Icing spatula

These are round tipped blunt knives that are essential for moving icing around and smoothing edges.  They come in bent and flat.  I almost exclusively use a flat, but the bent come in handy for smoothing the top of cakes.

The example below is a Yellow Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream and Caramel Butterscotch filling (recipe will follow soon).  I baked 2 8-inch round cakes, and places the cake on a 9-inch cake board and doily.

 1.  Start by taping a doily to your cake board, or kitchen plate.  Place on the revolving cake stand.  Take a dollop of frosting and smear it in the center of the doily (not pictured).  This will ensure that the cake sticks to the doily and doesn’t slide during possible transport.

2.  Center cake on top of the cake board or kitchen plate.  I placed my cake, top side up.  I also trimmed the top a bit with a serrated knife to ensure that the surface was as even as possible.

3.  Dollop about 3/4 cup of frosting (you should eyeball it) into the center of the cake round.  With an icing spatula, spread the frosting evenly around the cake until it reaches the edges.  Add more frosting as necessary.  For this cake, because I added a butterscotch filling, I created a slight edge with the icing at the edges of the cake.  I  accomplished this by simply not scraping off excess frosting as it reached the edge of the cake,  I let it build up into a protective lip.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, just a bit of a raised edge to hold in a thin layer of filling.

4.  Pour about 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of  butterscotch filling into the center of the iced layer ( you can eyeball this too).  Using the back of a spoon, not your icing spatula, spread the filling until it reaches the icing barrier that you have created.

5.  Set aside the butterscotch topped layer for a moment.  Place the second layer of cake on a piece of waxed paper on the revolving cake stand, top side up.  Trim the cake with a serrated knife to even out the cake round just as you did with the first layer.  Dollop about 1/2 cup of frosting into the center of the cake.  Using the icing spatula, spread the frosting around until it reaches the edges of the cake.  This layer of frosting will be much thinner than the first layer you put on the previous cake.  This layer is going to go face down, directly on top of the butterscotch layer, and this thin layer of frosting is just to ensure that the butterscotch doesn’t soak into the cake lying above it.

6.  Return the butterscotch layer to the cake stand and carefully place the second layer, frosting side down, on top of the butterscotch filling.  The top of the cake will be the bottom of the second layer.  This is great, because the bottom layer of the cake is usually uniform and flat.  Go you!  Now you’re going to frost the top.

7. Make sure that the top of the cake is fairly even.  Gently push the cake down a bit if one side is higher than the other.  Dollop about 1 cup of frosting onto the center of the top of the cake.  Using the icing spatula, spread the frosting out towards the edges of the cake.  Smooth the center ( it doesn’t have to be perfect) letting frosting accumulate at the edges of the top of the cake if you find you have extra.  The extra frosting at the edge of the cake can be used to frost the sides of the cake.

8.  At this point it’s helpful to run the icing spatula under warm running water.  Cleaning the knife with warm water will help smooth the icing more easily.  The more icing gunk on the knife, the harder it is to get clean lines.  After cleaning the knife,  scoop up some frosting using the cleaned icing spatula and spread it across the sides of the cake.  Repeat this action, turning the cake on the cake stand, until all the sides have been frosted.  The frosting does not need to be applied perfectly the first time around the cake.  A warmed, clean icing spatula will do wonders to smooth the sides of the cake the second time around.

9.  Once the sides have been frosted and smoothed, clean the icing spatula once again.  With a light but steady touch, place the front edge of the icing spatula along the seam where the side of the cake meets the top of the cake.  Icing has accumulated here and is creating a rough border to the cake.  Hold the spatula firmly in one place along this icing seam and slowly being to rotate the revolving cake stand- moving the cake, but not the knife, to smooth the top.  You can leave the icing as rough and rustic, or smooth as you’d like.  It just depends on what look you’re going for.  Clean any stray icing at the base of the cake, or on the cake board with a damp paper towel.

10.  Now you have a blank canvas for decoration!! From here you can cover the cake in fondant and go nuts.  You could add fresh flowers.  You could write Happy Birthday! You could simply get out a sharp knife and have a slice… many many possibilities.  It’s your cake.  Frost it, and eat it too!

53 thoughts on “How to Frost a Cake- in 10 pictures.

  1. What great steps and tips you included! I’ve always thought it would be neat to have one of those spinning stands. And I’ve never even thought to trim the top of a cake layer to even it out. Brilliant!

  2. I’ve never even dared to try a filled cake. Now I really want to…

    Can you believe that my boyfriend doesn’t like cake? He asks for pie for his birthday, and says cake is “just okay.” Who doesn’t like cake, I ask you?

    I think I’ll bake a cake anyway. And frost it beautifully for the first time ever, thanks to you. And if I have to eat it all myself? So be it.

  3. Fabulous! I need more patience to frost a cake. Thats the worst part of cake decorating for me. I think thats why i stick to cupcakes ;) thanks for the tutorial.

  4. This is a very handy tutorial I wish I had when I did my first cake. I was impatient about letting the cake and frosting cool off, so first, there was the obvious runny frosting issue. Then there was the filling oozing out between the layers, the poor decorations, …lol, I could go on. Tasted good, but it wasn’t winning any photo contents! ;-) Sounds like I’ll have to revisit cakes to put these techniques into practice…and I can’t wait to see the upcoming recipes for this one!

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