Sweet Tips: How To Frost A Cake

pink cake with cake slice - coco cake land

I want to blast you back through memory lane for a just a minute. Thirteen years ago, in fact. I had just met my now-husband RT. He was a tall, cool drink of vegan water. I was a short haired, glasses-wearing aspiring music writer/feminist. I was so nervous to eat anything meaty around him I think I only ate toast and tea. Then, his birthday came around and I wanted to make this cute boy a birthday cake (ha). I enlisted the help of a vegan cookbook and some plastic dollar-store toy cake toppers (probably not food safe! Oops). I really worked hard at this thing and I was all nervous how the cake would turn out. Let’s just say I made a crappy cake, guys. Brutally frosted with loose crumbs throughout and super ugly! Of course, RT was a polite happy chappy and we dug into the cake fine and well. But dang it, I was LOST at how to make a cake look like a sweet 10 out of 10, or even a 7 out of 10. So this is where this tutorial comes in. I’ll show you some nice tips on how to frost a cake that’s as cute as can be!

how to frost a cake - coco cake land

I just love me a beautiful simple birthday party cake! A sweet birthday doesn’t have to be slam jammed with every bell and whistle of decor on planet Earth. A few simple gestures, like a pretty cake, a thoughtful birthday card and a trio of balloons makes for a modern, low key party.

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Ready to make your own birthday cake? 

You Will Need:

  • Your favourite two layer cake, baked and cooled. If you want pink cake layers, add a small drop of pink gel colouring to the batter!
  • 4 cups of buttercream of your choice. Colour two thirds of it with pink, and one third in light green, using gel food colouring.
  • An offset spatula
  • A cake smoothing bench scraper
  • A cake board or cake plate
  • A piping bag fitted with an open star tip (I used a Wilton 4B tip)
  • Rainbow sprinkles
  • Washi tape
  • A wooden BBQ stick
  • A rotating cake stand is a great investment if you are really keen on baking and decorating! I got mine for 50% off at a certain craft superstore using their weekly handy dandy 50% off any item coupon. Score!

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Step One

Run your offset spatula between the cake and cake pan to loosen your cake. Remove cooled cake from cake pan; flip over pan and set on top for a flat surface. Using a serrated knife, gently slice off the raised dome of your caked cake for even, level layers.

super cute birthday cake - coco cake land

Step Two

Put a dab of buttercream on your cake board. Place the cake layer level-side-up on your cake board or cake plate, right on top of the buttercream dab – this acts as a sort of glue to keep your cake layer from shifting. Add a generous amount of fluffy buttercream on to your cake layer – I use my offset spatula to frost. The trick is to only move around the frosting itself, never touch the cake – if you touch the cake with the offset spatula, you’re more likely to tear up the cake or gather crumbs as you go.

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Step Three

Remove the second layer from the cake pan, levelling it as you did the first; this time, place the layer level-side-down on top of the layer of buttercream.  Do a visual 360 view around your whole cake, ensuring the layers are even, adjusting as needed – then, lightly press down into the buttercream to adhere.

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Step Four

Now, plop a big old amount of buttercream on the top of your cake! Frost the entire exterior of the cake using your offset spatula. If there’s any gap between the cake layers, you can fill it with frosting here.

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Step Five

Using your cake smoother, smooth the entire exterior of your cake. Don’t worry if it looks not-so-hot right now, this is called the crumb coat – we’re sealing in those crumby bad boys! Next, place the cake in the freezer for ten minutes until set. While the cake is chilling, take a moment to look at this card:

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CUTE! I love this slice of birthday cake card! Anyone else out there wild about pictures or drawings of cake slices? I simply can’t get enough.

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Step Six

Remove your cake from the freezer. Now, we’ll frost it again! I love placing a big old comedic plop of buttercream on top.

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Frost the cake with the second layer of buttercream.

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Now, smooth this layer with the bench scraper! Now we’re talkin’!

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Keep on smoothing until you get to where you want to go. This will do for me!

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Step Seven

Fill your piping bag fitted with the open star tip with the light green buttercream. Border time! (sung to Hammer Time)

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Let’s make a puffy shell border! Squeeze out your piping bag to form a ball like shape. Release pressure slightly and drag piping bag to the right about 3/4 inch, creating a ribbed line, then pull away – it will leave a pointy little tail. Start the next shell on top of the “tail” of the last shell. Continue piping the bottom border, going all around the cake!

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Step Eight

Pipe shells on the top border of the cake! Pipe away, my friend!

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You did it! You basically work at Dairy Queen now!

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I love using little flags and toppers to give a cute finish to my cakes. Make a cute washi tape flag, one of my faves! Choose your favourite tape design. Pull off a long piece and wrap it around a wooden BBQ stick; fold over to adhere. Use a pair of scissors to snip a V-cut for a more flag-like look!

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Step Nine 

Dust your cake with a liberal amount of rainbow sprinkles! For better control, I tend to put them in my hand and sprinkle with my fingers instead of shaking a container right on top of the cake.

pink buttercream cake with sprinkles - coco cake land

And you know what you do once you’ve baked and decorated the cutest birthday cake? SLICE IT UP! GET ALL UP IN THAT CAKE! SWAN DIVE INTO THAT THING! FACEWASH IT! SLAMJAM CAKE YOU MA’AM! Or… you could also daintily slice out a demure piece and eat it very lady-like style with a mini fork!

pink birthday cake - coco cake land

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This cake kind of has an adorable watermelon feel to it, too, doesn’t it!

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And there you have it! I hope this was a helpful post for you! What are your favourite/best cake decorating tips or tools? I’d love to hear! Happy decorating, cake pals! xo Lyndsay

This post was sponsored by Paper Generation, a curated paper boutique specializing in sweet, quirky and whimsical cards from Brooklyn, NY. I am loving on their mix of indie designers, letterpress, artful cards! Plus they ship internationally! 

20 Responses to “Sweet Tips: How To Frost A Cake”

  1. molly yeh

    love this!!! this is exactly how i frost my cakes. someone was asking me the other day how to frost a cake and i couldn’t find a tutorial that was just like how i do it… but now i can refer them here! also i love the story of you and your man’s early days :) too cute.

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      aw thank you so much molly!! yay cake frosting! ^__^ haha… yep… me and my hubs have been together a long time with lots of history – i was really dumb to what veganism meant when i was younger, and pretty much FORCED him to eat a slice of cake at a family birthday party because i didn’t want him to seem rude! OOPS. (shortly after we started dating he quit being vegan -maybe that slice of cake worked??? heehee… now he happily eats cheese again – total cheegan!)

  2. Michelle @ Hummingbird High

    love this post too! it took me a long time to figure out how to frost cakes beautifully, and i so wish i had this guide in the process. to get smooth edges, have you ever heard of the paper towel method where you put a paper towel on the chilled frosting-covered cake and use your fingers to smooth it out? i tried it once, but ended up with paper towel in my frosting. true story.

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      thank you michelle!! i HAVE indeed heard of this method but have never tried it!! i always imagined the paper towel might imprint the cake – but paper towel in the frosting is hysterical!! i love it! ^__^

  3. Marisa

    I’ve been following your awesome work for quite a few years now. Thanks for posting tips on how to do things! Your cakes are so adorable, simple and not too over done but incredibly awesome! THANK YOU!

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      marisa, you’re so sweet! thank YOU for following my work and leaving me such a nice comment! it is truly appreciated!

  4. jan

    yum!

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      thank you,jan!! xo

  5. Emily

    definitely going to try and remember to use this tutorial next time I bake a cake – this is so perfect! pink and mint go so perfectly together :-)

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      oh hooray! thanks emily! would love to see, make sure you email me! ^__^

  6. Tessa

    Love this tutorial!! Perfection. And these colors are so cute together! Perfect for summer.

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      thanks tessa!! it is a summery fun cake, isn’t it? total watermelon-y colours! xo

  7. Mariana @The Candid Kitchen

    Lyndsay, thank you so much for sharing your skills with the world. The crumbs always make me want to scream at my cake but you made it look so easy!

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      ha… yes those darn crumbs!! thanks so much for stopping by, mariana!

  8. Sarah

    This is amazing!! I’ve always wondered how to get icing so smooth! I’ve got to make a ’1′ cake soon for my niece. Will be using some of your techniques when I do so :) thank you! Your the cake goddess ;) xxx

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      sarah, thank you so much! ooh you should send me a pic of your cake – i’m sure it will be awesome! thanks for stopping by! ^__^

  9. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    Lyndsay, you have no idea how badly I need this cake decorating tutorial. My cakes usually look laughable (but at least they taste good. I always comfort myself by saying that). This is beyond adorable. And that line about working at Dairy Queen made me snort in laughter (yes, very attractive). It gives me hope that you went from my level of cake decorating skill to where you are today (which is the jedi master of cake making). Thanks for this post, woman!

    Reply
    1. Lyndsay // Coco Cake Land

      haha! nancy i’m glad it will be helpful, although i have a feeling your cake decorating is already up to snuff! ^__^

  10. Miriam Clancy

    dude, you’re a genius cake maker! I came here led by your dog cakes – the shaggy haired one I wish was real and lived at our house… too cute, can’t eat it. but want to!! anyways, thanks for this here tutorial. great writing btwz :)

    Reply

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