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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

10 Tips and Tools for Frosting Cakes

Last week, I shared my top 10 cake baking tips and tools with you.  If you missed the post, click here.  Now that you are practically an expert {wink wink}, let's move on to decorating cakes.  Now, I don't actually consider myself an expert at all, but I love learning as I go.  If you are looking for lots of tips about decorating frosted cakes, you are out of luck.  Sorry.  The best advice I can offer in that arena is to cover with delicious candy or nuts.  The only time I stick with a frosted cake is when I am making it for a child.  Other than that, I don't think that I will ever try to simply frost a cake again, now that I know the smooth finish of a fondant-covered cake (another casualty to my "type-a" personality).  If you are interested in that aspect of cake decorating, stick around. 

When I started writing this post, I had a hard time finding ten tips, because I had about seven different aspects of cake decorating to talk about, but I had lots of tips for each one.  The post was getting longer and longer, and I thought that it would be overwhelming to new cake decorators.  To try and alleviate some of the overload, I am breaking this part into a few separate posts.  Today, we are going to focus on the basics of frosting.  In the past few years, this is what I've learned.

Frosting Cakes
  1. Picking the Right Frosting.  My very favorite frosting is the frosting from the bakery at King Soopers (kroger).  Did you know that you can buy frosting directly from the bakery counter for cheaper than the butter to make your own?  I really like the consistency, the flavor, and the color.  The frosting is really white, delicious, and a pretty stiff, so it holds up well under the weight of the fondant.  It also helps that it has a pretty long shelf life.  Go to your local supermarket and ask them what frosting they sell and for what price.  See if this is an option for you.  I am not a big fan of frosting from the shelf.
  2. Glue it to the Cake Board.  Use a smear of frosting to glue the cake to the cake board, that way you have no slippage as you try to frost or decorate.  You want your cake to stay put!
  3. Use a Turntable.  A turntable will actually help with almost every aspect of cake decorating.  To be able to easily turn the cake as you frost, fondant, or decorate, will make you job much easier.  It will also help when you try to even your frosting.
  4. photo courtesy of
  5. To Coat or Not To Coat?  I have seen, and been told, to make a "crumb coat" or "dirty ice" cakes before frosting them for the decorative/outside layer.  Since I cover all my cakes with fondant in the end, I think that is a wasted step.  Number one: I love frosting; I view cake as a frosting delivery system, so a thin layer just won't work for me.  Number two: why would I want to frost a thin layer of frosting, then repeat with another layer of frosting?  It seems like a waste of time to me.  Number three: if there are a few crumbs in my only layer of frosting, it doesn't really matter since it will be covered in fondant anyway. 
  6. Filling Seepage - Gross!  If you have a filling (other than the frosting) between the layers of your cake, make sure you build a dam around the filling with whatever frosting you will use to frost the cake.
  7. Use an Angled Spatula.  This will be one of your favorite cake tools.  The angle makes it easy to get a smooth finish on the frosting without getting your fingers into the frosting and making divots.  (you use the back of the spatula)
  8. photo courtesy of
  9. Start at the Top.   Here is how I frost a cake, I try to always have the edge that was on the pan (the bottom) as my top layer.  I have very few crumb problems this way.  I take a large dollop of frosting and drop it on the top of the cake.  Spread the frosting to the edges, then down the sides.
  10. Push--Don't Pull! Use the spatula to push the frosting from the center to the edge of the cake.  Be sure to NOT pull back on the frosting, or you will have crumbs pick up off the cake into the frosting.  To remove the spatula from the frosting, gently lift the spatula off while you are pushing.
  11. More is Better.  I found that you can always take frosting away from the cake once you get it all covered.  The frosting seals in the cake, so use lots to avoid crumbs.  Then use the spatula to remove excess frosting.  Simply turn the spatula on its side and scrape frosting off, leaving a thinner layer left on the cake.
  12. Smooth & Even.  Try to get the frosting as smooth as possible, but more importantly, get you frosting straight.  Try to keep your frosting an even width all around your cake, so the cake shape is easily identifiable.  To be honest, this is the hardest part for me.  Here is what I usually get, then I cover with fondant.  I just keep at it with the spatula, until I am happy or fed up :)

I will be linking this up to these fun link parties!


  1. I love decorating FUN cakes. I used to decorate birthday cakes for my three daughters. Now I am decorating them for my three grandsons! :) I look forward to visiting your blog and picking up new ideas and pointers.


  2. Great Tips! Maybe someday my cakes will look as good as yours, or maybe not :)

  3. Wow! This is amazing! I made a train cake for my son last summer and it just about killed me, ha :) I'm a new follower from the *sassy* blog hop. Stop over and see me sometime...

    Suz from Well to Do

  4. I love the dam tip! Thanks, it will be used time and time again!

    Happy Day,
    Jasey @ Crazy Daisy

  5. I am a cupcake person, but these are excellent tips! Sharing with my facebook reades! :)

    (Push don't pull- so true!)

  6. I want one of those spatulas would make icing so much easier

  7. Thanks for sharing such great tips. I think I may have to go and make something now just so I can try all of them. And I definintly need to go get a turntable. (I can tell my husband you told me to right?)

    I loved your post so much I had to share it on my Shout Out Sunday post today.


  8. I have to check my grocery store. I did'nt know they sell frosting at the baking counter. Thanks for the tip.

    I am having a giveaway on my blog. $15 store credit to select from a wide range of gorgeous hair clips and hairbands for little girls. check it out.

  9. Wow--wish I would have known that last week. :) I made a (super adorable) dog cake for my baby girl (post upcoming...) BUT it had a filling inside that ended up squishing out. Next time, I'll build a dam as you taught. :)

  10. Thanks again for more awesome tips! And thanks for sharing at Fantastic Friday.

  11. I found you on whipperberry. I just scrolled through your blog and your cakes are amazing. I would love to make this one for my nephew's birthday. Can I ask you how you got the cake round and if the eyes are cupcakes?

  12. Thanks for all the lovely comments.

    Jenn--I used three 8' rounds and stacked them all. Then I carved the cakes to make them round. The key to not getting too many crumbs in your frosting when carving it is to load up with lots of frosting to seal the crumbs in, then scrape off excess frosting.

    The eyes were made with Wilton's mini wonder mold pan. It looks like the pan used to make a doll cake, only smaller and with four cavities.

    I hope this helps!

  13. Thank you so much for all the help/tips. I can't wait to try it.

  14. Love this blog, keep up the great work wish you all the best.....
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  15. This one is really looking one of awesome featured source. As the post discloses the tips and regarding tools for Frosting Cakes. It's really looking one of exceptional featured source for me. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Hey! Have you found a good recipe for fondant? Most of the fondant I've come across taste like paste. That's why i stick with normal frosting and only use fondant for the.decorating


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