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Styled Eats: How to Frost a Perfectly Smooth Cake

This post is sponsored by Nestlé® Toll House® Morsels, the perfect special ingredient for all of your family’s favorite treats!

Mastering a perfectly smooth cake has been on my list of things to master since as long as I can remember. My mom would make these amazing cakes for our birthdays and I’ve been trying to get my skills up to par for my kids. It was so great to spend an afternoon with pastry chef Hope Waggoner and have her break down the steps. I’ve tried so many times to get a perfectly smooth cake but have never gotten it just right. I know a lot of people can do amazing things with fondant but I don’t love how it tastes. A nice buttercream on the other hand, I’m in love with the stuff. Find the simple steps below to frosting a perfectly smooth cake.

Click through for step by step instructions.

Materials Needed: All you really need to frost this cake is: A large Offset Spatula, a heavy duty pastry bag with large tip, and a knife.

Step 1: Follow steps 1-4 over here until the cake has it’s basic layer of crumb coat and has chilled. The cake should be cold and the frosting should be room temperature.
Step 2:  Remove the cold cake from the frige and add a second layer of frosting. Start with the sides and spin the plate while holding the offset spatula in place. Repeat this several times until the frosting is smooth. Frost the top, going over it until it is smooth. Then put in the frige to set
Step 3: For the final layer remove the cake from the fridge and add another layer of frosting. Repeat the second step going over and over the frosting until it is smooth. (It surprised me how much time she spent smoothing out the frosting, I realized I had been too impatient when I had tried to frost my cakes.) And voila! You’re finished. You can add fruit or sprinkles to the top or just dig in and eat. Bon Appetit!


All photos by Paul Ferney for Oh Happy Day

A special thanks to Michelle for letting us borrow her beautiful kitchen, to Hope for her expertise, and to little E for modeling.

See all the posts in our cake decorating series right here.

  1. Yelle

    October 16, 2012

    Gorgeous! So smooth – not sure I have the patience. It’s like painting!

  2. Et tu, tutu?

    October 16, 2012

    Oh my goodness. It just looks so perfect…I agree with the comment above me. I don`t think I have the patience for that! 😛


  3. Jen

    October 16, 2012

    I took a cake decorating and learned a tip to speed up the process. Exactly as above but after the last layer use a pepertowel to smooth it out. Viva paper towels do not have a textured print to them. Place one over top of cake and lightly smooth with your hand. Pull the towel off and voila! Then repeat on the sides.

  4. Cho

    October 16, 2012

    I love the simplicity of the cake haha, all your photos are beautiful!

  5. Theresa

    October 16, 2012

    I have always wondered how to do this! I can’t wait to try this out!


  6. Loulou

    October 16, 2012

    Oh that looks very good. I love the pictures too. That’s a lovely red velvet dress!

  7. Carina

    October 17, 2012

    The cake looks perfect! I think I wouldn’t have the patience to smooth it out and especially to wait for that long time until I can eat it 😉

  8. Nicole

    October 17, 2012

    I’ve found that if I put the buttercream frosted cake in the fridge for a bit, til it is well chilled, I can then take it out and, by warming my knife in a glass of warm water, quickly smooth out the frosting. It really gives it a perfect finish.

  9. My Dreamed Day

    October 17, 2012

    Mmmm, delicius, and so easy. Love your blog.

  10. heidi

    October 17, 2012

    I’ve never done three layers of frosting before. I’m also not that patient. I’ll have to keep this in mind.

  11. Claire

    October 17, 2012

    “The secret to a perfectly smooth cake is simply to spend a long time smoothing it out.” Seriously? That’s the “secret”? Not very good advice at all, really. The Viva paper towel technique is faster.

  12. Krystal

    October 17, 2012

    As Nicole said above, use a hot knife. I run mine under the hot tap water for 5- 10 seconds and then smooth out the icing repeat until you are done. works everytime!

  13. Emmy

    October 25, 2012

    An additional tip when using the “Viva” paper towel…..let your icing set up just a bit before using the paper towel, if you don’t chances are your icing will come up with the towel. I decorated cakes for 25 yrs and found this to be the best way to a nice smooth cake. And yes, I agree Viva is the best towel to use.

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