Step-by-Step: Frosting a Layer Cake
This activity was created by America’s Test Kitchen Kids.
- 2 (9-inch) round cakes, fully cooled (Click here for our Chocolate Layer Cake recipe.)
- 5 cups frosting
- Cake stand or serving platter
- Icing spatula
- 1-cup dry measuring cup
If you frost a warm cake, the butter in the frosting will melt and the frosting will slide right off your cake! A spatula with a bend in the blade—called an icing spatula or an offset spatula—is the best tool for frosting cakes, but a butter knife will also work. These instructions show you how to make a smooth frosted layer cake that’s ready for whatever other decorations you want to add.
1. Place 1 cake layer on cake stand or serving platter. Use icing spatula to spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake.
2. Top with second cake layer and press down gently to set.
3. Use icing spatula to spread 1 cup frosting over top and side of cake to create thin layer of frosting. (Don’t worry if there are lots of crumbs in the frosting at this point.) Refrigerate cake until frosting is chilled and set, about 20 minutes. (If you’re frosting a light-colored cake, skip this step and spread the remaining 4 cups of frosting over the top and side of your cake in step 4.)
4. Use clean icing spatula to spread remaining 3 cups frosting over top and side of cake.
5. Use icing spatula to gently smooth out bumps around side of cake and to tidy areas where frosting on top and side merge. Then run spatula over top of cake again to smooth out any remaining bumps.