A Complete Guide to Layer Cake Decorating

Here's everything you need to know to frost like a pro.

Photo By: Ryan Dausch

Photo By: Ryan Dausch

Photo By: Ryan Dausch

Photo By: Ryan Dausch

Photo By: Ryan Dausch

Photo By: Ryan Dausch

Photo By: Ryan Dausch

Chocolate Crunch Cake

Cover a chocolate cake with a thin layer of Chocolate American Buttercream and refrigerate 30 minutes (this is the crumb coat). Cover the cake with another thin layer of frosting, using a bench scraper to make it smooth. Put the cake (on the turntable) in a large baking pan. Gently press small handfuls of mini chocolate pearls or sprinkles on the sides of the cake, patting to help them adhere. (We used Callebaut Mini Chocolate Crispearls.) Gather the excess and sprinkle on top to fully coat.

Chocolate Drip Cake

Cover a chocolate cake with a thin layer of Swiss Buttercream and refrigerate 30 minutes (this is the crumb coat). Cover the cake with another thin layer of frosting, using a bench scraper to make it smooth. Pour store-bought chocolate shell over the top, letting it drip down the sides.

Red Velvet Flower Cake

Cover a red velvet cake with a thin layer of Swiss Buttercream and refrigerate 30 minutes (this is the crumb coat). Cover the cake with another thin layer of frosting. Divide the remaining frosting among 3 bowls. Tint one dark pink, one light pink and leave the rest white. Transfer to 3 separate piping bags fitted with the same size large star tip. Pipe small stars of frosting in alternating colors to cover the cake completely.

Sunshine Ombre Cake

Cover a white cake with a thin layer of American Buttercream and refrigerate 30 minutes (this is the crumb coat). Cover just the top with more frosting, then divide the remaining frosting among 3 bowls. Tint one dark yellow, one light yellow and leave the rest white. Using an offset spatula, spread the dark yellow frosting around the bottom edge of the cake, then the lighter frosting above it, then the white frosting. Use a bench scraper to smooth the frosting together, spinning the turntable as you go.

Mermaid Cake

Cover a white cake with a thin layer of American Buttercream and refrigerate 30 minutes (this is the crumb coat). Tint the remaining frosting turquoise and spread a thin layer. Transfer the remaining turquoise frosting to a piping bag with a ½-inch round tip. Pipe a vertical line of dots down the side of the cake; use an offset spatula to swipe the frosting dots to one side. Pipe another line of dots, partly covering the swipes. Repeat to cover the sides of the cake, then make a ring of dots around the top of the cake.

Double Chocolate Swirl Cake

Cover a chocolate cake with a thin layer of Chocolate Swiss Buttercream and refrigerate 30 minutes (this is the crumb coat). Cover the cake with more frosting, then position an offset spatula against the side of the cake, about 3/4 inch from the bottom. Slowly spin the turntable to create a ridge in the icing. Work your way up the sides of the cake to make more ridges. To decorate the top, use the same technique, working your way from the outer edge toward the center.

White Cloud Cake

Cover the sides of a white cake with a thin layer of Seven-Minute Frosting and refrigerate 30 minutes (this is the crumb coat). Spoon more frosting on the top and sides of the cake and use an offset spatula to spread it and create peaks. Do not refrigerate the frosted cake or the frosting may weep.