For the beginning baker, there are few things more inspiring than a beautifully decorated cake. If you want to wow everyone the next time you’re in charge of dessert, a well-constructed and decorated cake is the way to do it.
Here are some helpful tips for frosting, piping, and simply decorating cake like a pro.
Prep Cake for Frosting and Decorating
Frosting a Cake
Crumb coats are the base that give top coats of frosting a smooth, finished look.
Giving your cake a crumb coat is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make sure it turns out looking great. This is a thin base layer of frosting that seals the crumbs onto the cake so they’re not visible in the final product. This step may seem a bit redundant, but it can make all the difference—crumby frosting isn’t particularly pretty, and this step will give your cake a smooth, finished-looking surface.
If you’re making a multi-layer cake, you’ll need to add frosting between each layer before you start the crumb coat. Drop a generous portion of frosting onto the top of your cake and use a frosting spreader to evenly distribute it. Add enough frosting so you have a thick layer on top and use that to spread the frosting down the sides. You can apply this same technique to a single layer cake.
Fill in any gaps that appear as you coat the cake. If your layers start to get wobbly, or your frosting starts getting too runny, stick it in the fridge to cool for 10–20 minutes. This should firm up your frosting and make the whole thing easier to continue working.
Once you’ve evenly distributed your crumb coat, use a scraper to make the surface nice and smooth. Start by going around the cake, then leveling off the top—you may have to do this back and forth a few times before you’re satisfied with how it looks. Once you have a smooth crumb coat, let the cake chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. After the cake has chilled, you can put on your final layer of frosting or fondant and, depending on how you’re decorating your cake, this is the layer you’ll show the world.
Watch the entire process with Layer Cakes 101:
Practice Your Piping Technique
Add Fun Accent Decorations
You don’t need to rely on frosting alone to make your cake look great. Sprinkles, candies, and fruits all make great additions to the tops or sides of your cake. Experiment with different ideas. Want a fun and colorful birthday cake for a boy or girl? Coat the cake with his or her favorite rainbow cereal.
Adding fresh fruit is a simple way to make an utterly gorgeous cake. Evenly frost your cake, then top it with fresh berries. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries all look and taste great together. Place them on top in circles starting from the middle for an organized look, or you can have them scattered about for a casually pretty look. Once you have them placed the way you like, use your sugar shaker to gently dust the whole thing with powdered sugar.