Cake Frosting 101: Frost Like the Pros!

Frosting a layer cake can be hard. Cake crumbs to get pulled up and ruin the clean, even look you were going for; the frosting turns out uneven, thicker here and thinner there. If you bake frequently (or want to!), there are a few simple tools you'll need to start whipping up beautiful, perfectly frosted cakes. And for those who rarely bake, it may not be worth it to acquire some of the materials needed, but the tips here should still help you make your occasional cake more excellent. Let's get started!

List of Materials The materials you choose to gather are dependent on the level of perfection you're going for. If you see yourself icing cakes every week or a few times a month, or you're just very passionate about how your cakes look, you might want to go whole hog and pick up every item on the list. If you just want your cake to look a bit prettier, you'll just need some version of the first three items!

  • Parchment paper
  • Serrated knife
  • Cake icing spatula / knife
  • Warm water (optional)
  • Cake board (optional)
  • Pastry bag with cake icing tip (optional)
  • Revolving Cake Stand (optional)


  • Before you bake your cakes, line the cake pans with a cut layer of parchment that is greased and lightly dusted with flour. this helps in removing your cake cleanly.
  • Bake your cake! Try one of these beautiful birthday cakes! Or luscious layer cakes. Just remember to let the cake cool completely before you frost it, otherwise you'll wind up with gunky, melted frosting.
  • Pick your frosting. I personally love this simple whipped cream cheese frosting. This chocolate fudge buttercream is excellent too.
  • If you intend on moving your cakes around, you might want to pick up or make cake board for yourself too. It's essentially a cardboard cut-out that's about 1-inch wider than your cake that can give it some stability as you move it from stand to box to fridge, etc.


  1. Once your cakes are cooled, use your sharp serrated knife to level the cakes. Some people like to do this while the cake is still in the pan so that they can use the pan's top to ensure an even cut.
  2. Prepare your cake board or cake stand (if you're using it) and flip your cake over (cut side down) onto it. If you used the parchment paper, pull it off.
  3. To frost the top of the cake, you'll need about a cup of frosting. You can either use a pastry bag with a wide, cake icing tip or just use a spatula to spread it out.
  • If you're using the icing tip, angle the tip against the cake and frost it from the outside in in nested circles (like a target).
  • If you're using a spatula, put your dollop of frosting in the center of the cake and spread it as evenly as you can, all the way to the edge of the top layer. Add more frosting if necessary.
  1. If you're making a layer cake, take your second layer and place onto the frosted cake, cut side down. (You usually want to frost the bottom layer, rather than the risen, cut top layer of a cake since the bottom tends to be smoother, more even, and less crumby). Repeat the frosting process as described in step 3.
  • If you're using an icing spatula, now would be a good time to run your knife under warm water to clean it. A clean, semi-warm spatula helps ensure smoother, cleaner lines when frosting.
  1. Frosting the sides of the cake is just as easy!  If you're using the pastry bag option, just keep icing it in the same manner as you did the top. If you're using the spatula, scoop some up onto your spatula and spread enough frosting to cover every exposed bit. Then, clean your device under warm water again, and even out the layer.
  2. Smooth together the seam of the cake (where the top frosting meets the side frosting) with a clean, warm spatula.
  3. Clean away any excess frosting on the cake board or platter with a damp paper towel, and you're done!

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Photo Credits: Best Friends for FrostingDelish__