Today’s post is not meant for those of you looking to full on decorate cakes. Today’s post is for those of you who, like me, like to bake cakes and want them to be pretty enough to present. I’m not going to go into any baking techniques and you certainly don’t need any piping bags. I’m just going to share a couple tricks I’ve learned over the past year. I would recommend using an icing spatula and a turntable. The turntable is not necessary, but makes it easier.
1. Cool your cakes upside down.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve tried to bake my cakes at all kinds of different temperatures to get that flat top. I have never been successful. I’ve managed to get a semi-flat top, but not like you see in pictures or on baking shows. And I hate shaving my cakes to create a flat top because I just can’t bring myself to waste cake. So, per the Pioneer Woman, I’ve started inverting my cakes onto cooling racks and stacking them upside down. By cooling them upside down, the cake dome gets pretty squashed down. I then stack them to frost so that the bottom of my cake is actually the top of what came out of the pan. This way, the side I’m frosting is nice and even and has a clean edge.
2. Put a first thin layer of frosting on your cake called a “crumb coat.”
This first layer serves to coat the cake and seal it off from any crumbs making their way to the top layer. It also serves as a base for your second and final layer of frosting. Once you apply this crumb coat, place your cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to make sure it is set and not sticky for the next layer.
3. Frost your cake from the top down to create a sharp corner on the cake edge.
When applying your final layer of frosting, plop the majority of it on top of your cake. Then, move your spatula over the edges and down the sides. You essentially pull the frosting over the edges toward the bottom. This ensures the corners do not thin out.
Side note: On your “final” layer of frosting, if you still have thin spots, cover them with icing as well as you can and put your cake back into the fridge to set those areas. After those areas are not sticky, you should be able to completely cover the thin area.
4. Add texture to the top of your cake.
Use the tip of your spatula to create a swirl or ruffles. This will disguise imperfections, too.
5. Add garnishes.
It’s really easy to add a couple of halved or quartered strawberries to your strawberry cake, or a ring of pecans to your carrot cake. Be creative!
As y’all may know by now, I’m a sucker for a doctored up box cake. The pictures above are a carrot cake I made from the recipe here. And I used this cream cheese frosting recipe, which is easily the best I’ve ever made. Hope this helps with your cake frosting and decorating!