How to Fill, Stack and Crumb Coat a Layered Cake

What’s the key to avoiding lumpy, crumby frosting or slanted layers? Filling and icing your cake with an expert stack and crumb coat is really important before you go all Ace-of-Cakes on your creation.
Filling a cake is pretty simple, but I thought this guide might be helpful to people who are just learning to work with layer cakes.

How to Fill, Stack and Crumb Coat a Layered Cake

After filling it’s time for the crumb coat, true to its namesake, the crumb coat is a thin base layer of frosting that’s designed to catch cake crumbs hence its name. It also helps even out your frosting surface. Think of it like the sanding and priming steps before painting a dresser.

The crumb coat is especially useful when frosting a chocolate cake because those seem to be more crumbly be nature. It is also how you can decorate “naked” cakes like this one (they are so in right now too!)

I love cake decorating but I get so worried I don’t know what I am doing. Idk where to start and that’s why I absolutely love this cake decorating guide on How to Crumb Coat a Cake! Creating the smooth, flawless buttercream finish you often find on professionally made cakes comes with practice. It also comes with the knowledge of a few insider techniques! These are three of the easiest ways we get that gorgeous finish on our layer cakes.

Please keep in mind that there is a ton of ways to do this but this is just my way of doing it. So the more you practice you will become to get more comfortable with the process. You will also figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. This is just a start to your cake decorating journey, so just focus on having fun!

How to Fill, Stack and Crumb Coat a Layered Cake

Tools Needed:

Cake layers – (Yeah, yeah – I know this and the next point are obvious, but I’m just covering my bases.) Always use chilled cake. I would advise against using frozen ones because they can be near impossible to cut, but definitely make sure that they’ve been in the refrigerator (covered in plastic wrap) for at least 3 or 4 hours. This will make them easier to handle because the cakes will be firmer and therefore less likely to crack and easier to halve (split). Here’s a foolproof vanilla cake that anyone can make and be successful with every time!
Serrated knife or Cake leveler – These are the best tools for splitting cakes. I recommend a long, thin, sturdy blade serrated knife like this one. Or get a cake leveler has a wavy wire design works like a serrated knife for a cleaner cut. It is sometimes easier for someone to use who are nervous to work a knife. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, but be aware that a flimsy knife will bend and make your cake slices convex/conical.
Favorite buttercream frosting – Use whichever kind you like – this technique works for all of them. Feel free to head over to my tutorial for Swiss Meringue Buttercream, it’s a buttery and fluffy icing that it’s too sweet!
Cardboard rounds – You need to eventually serve your cake on something, right? You can decorate right onto the cardboard. I feel this way is better than putting them right onto a cake stand or a plate, it’s way less fragile too!
Turntable (aka rotating cake stand) – I always use a turntable to frost cakes. It’s an unnecessary investment if you don’t frost cakes with any regularity, but if you do, you’ll be so happy if you buy one. You can also use a lazy susan. I buy most of my stuff from Amazon because of convenience.
Bench scraper – use it for smoothly the frosting out on cakes. I use the cake board as a reference point and turn the cake around to smooth out the frosting. This is an easy way to clean the edges of the cake and get it ready for placing fondant over it or if you are not using fondant then, it’s nice and clean!
Offset spatula – Spoons or knives may cut it when it comes to frosting cupcakes, but these are the way to go when it comes to frosting cakes. They’re available in a variety of sizes and shapes, but I think the best two to have in your arsenal are the 8″ model and the 10″ one.
Non-slip pad– Slip one of these under your cake on the turntable and you will thank me, I promise.

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