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Culinary Class: Have Your Cake and Frost It Too

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Culinary Class: Have Your Cake and Frost It Too
Photos by Jonathan Boncek

You’ve baked a cake and whipped the buttercream. Now what?  For beginners and type-A bakers, frosting a cake is right up there with making caramel or candy in the nerve-rattling department.

After all, a cake isn’t just any dessert, it’s often the centerpiece for celebrating a life event, like a birthday, graduation, or new job. The potential for snafus—crumbs in the frosting or, heaven forbid, lopsided layers—looms large. Not to mention the dangers that await the finished product, like the greedy fingers of small children looking for a quick sugar fix. But hey, no pressure, right? Fear not, dear readers. TLP has you covered with a step-by-step guide to cake-frosting success. Don’t expect to go from zero to birthday party in a matter of minutes, however. Leave yourself plenty of time for requisite chilling and deep breathing if necessary. As for those little frosting-sabotaging gremlins, invest in a glass cake dome to protect (and showcase) your pièce de résistance. Spot a smudge? That’s what sprinkles are for.

TLP Cake Frosting Tips

Warm cake + cold icing = recipe for disaster. Make sure your cake is completely cooled—chill in fridge if necessary—and bring your frosting to room temperature if you’ve made it ahead.

Big-time baker? Invest in a heavy-duty cake wheel or turntable; a lazy Susan works in a pinch. Other handy tools: a serrated knife to cut and trim cake layers and an icing knife or offset spatula for frosting. And if you plan to transport your masterpiece, a cake carrier offers surefire protection for your fancy frosting job.