How To Frost & Decorate a Layer Cake
- 2 to 4 baked cake rounds
- 2 batches
of buttercream, such as basic buttercream (see Notes)
- Cake stand
- Large offset spatula
- Piping bag (optional)
Lay one round of cake in the middle of the cake stand. Tuck 4 pieces of parchment around the cake to catch drips.
Frost the first layer: Dollop a large amount of buttercream in the middle of the cake with an offset spatula. Gently smooth the buttercream out, pushing it toward the edges.
Add another layer of cake: Dollop more buttercream on top of this layer and spread it into an even layer.
Repeat with remaining layers: Check to make sure your layers are roughly even and that the layers are stacking straight.
Add a crumb coat around the edges: Spread a very thin layer of frosting around the outside of the cake. This is the crumb coat and will help prevent crumbs from appearing on the finished cake. Chill the cake for about 15 minutes to set.
Add another layer of frosting over the crumb coat. Start by placing a large dollop of frosting on the top of the cake.
Smooth the top of the cake. Use a metal spatula to spread out the frosting into an even layer. Push the frosting towards the edges of the cake.
Smooth the sides of the cake: Once the frosting has been applied in an even layer around the cake, begin to smooth it out; the easiest way to do this is to dip the offset spatula in a cup of very hot water, and then steadily smooth the sides of the cake with the flat of the spatula.
Decorate the cake as desired: You can pipe decorations around the bottom edge or on top of the cake with buttercream, drizzle chocolate ganache over the top and sides, or add decorations, like meringue kisses or fresh fruit.
Remove the strips of parchment paper: When you're totally finished decorating, wiggle the strips of parchment out from under the cake. This will leave the cake stand clean and free of drips. (Note: If you wish to pipe a bottom border around your cake, the remove the parchment first.)