How to Frost a Double Layer Cake

Three Parts:Frosting the CakePiping the CakeAdding Additional Decorations

Double layer cakes are the emperor of desserts, and require suitably regal clothing. With the right precautions, your frosting will turn out smooth and free from crumbs. Many additional decorations can be added as well, from frosting flowers to fancy designs made with powdered sugar or fruit.

Part 1
Frosting the Cake

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    Let your cake layers cool. After baking the layers, let them cool to at least room temperature. You may even wish to chill them in the fridge overnight, in order to minimize any chance of the cake crumbling or breaking.[1]
    • If your cake layers came out of the oven domed, consider cooling them upside down to slightly offset this effect. You may need to cut off prominent domes before frosting.
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    Put a dab of frosting on your cake stand or plate. A dollop of frosting in the center of the stand will help keep the bottom layer of your cake in place while you assemble and frost it.[2]
    • If you are using a plate, consider placing it on top of a tall, stable surface such as a stack of oversize books. This may give you a better view of the cake during frosting.
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    Position the bottom layer of the cake over parchment paper. Place the bottom layer on the cake stand or plate, centered evenly. If the stand is wider than the cake, wedge strips of parchment paper around the edge, underneath the cake, to catch spills while you frost.[3]
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    Cover the top of the first layer with frosting. Use a spoon to place enough frosting on this layer to create an even spread at the desired thickness, typically about 1 cup (240 mL) for a 9 inch (23 cm) cake. Use an offset spatula, or an ordinary spatula, to spread the frosting evenly over this layer, hanging over the edge of the cake on all sides. You'll use the overhanging frosting later; you do not need to spread it yet.
    • Use 1.5 cups (350 mL) for a heavily frosted cake, or as little as 1/3 cup (80 mL) if you prefer only a thin layer of frosting.[4][5] Be careful with sparse frosting, as it is easy to tear up the surface of the cake and bring crumbs into your frosting layer.
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    Stack the second layer and repeat. Press the next layer gently on top of the frosting, then cover with frosting in the same way as the first. Try to use roughly the same amount of frosting for each layer, so your cake has an even appearance once cut. If the layers were cut from one cake after baking, turn the top layer upside down, so the outside surface of the cake is smooth and relatively crumb-free.
    • Frost the sides of the cake using a piping bag
    • Continue to use a spoon to transfer the frosting, and a spatula to spread it. Dipping the spatula into the frosting bowl increases the chances of spreading crumbs in your frosting.
    • If you are making a triple or quadruple layer cake, simply repeat this step until each layer is frosted.
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    Spread the excess frosting on the cake thinly over the sides. Spread the frosting dollops leftover from frosting each layer to make a thin, smooth surface. The frosting should cover the entire cake, but only in a thin layer. This is the "crumb coat," preventing crumbs from falling off the cake.[6]
    • Add additional frosting only if there are portions of the cake still dry after spreading. Avoid creating a full, thick spread of frosting on the sides at this point.
    • You may choose to skip this step if the icing and cake are both dark in color, making crumbs in the frosting less noticeable.
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    Chill the cake to set the frosting. The "crumb coat" of frosting will harden slightly when chilled, sealing in the crumbs more effectively. Chill for 15–30 minutes, or until a finger that touches the frosting comes away clean.[7]
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    Add a thicker layer of frosting to the sides. Use a final 1–2 cups (240–480 mL) of frosting, or more for a larger cake, to spread a thick layer of frosting around the sides of the cake. You may find it easier to make the layer an even thickness if you focus on 1/4 or 1/8 of the cake at a time, adding frosting as you go.
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    Smooth the frosting. If you have a cake scraper, press the edge lightly on the sides of the cake and move it slowly around the cake to create an extra-attractive surface. The top of the cake is more easily smoothed out with your spatula, but consider dipping the tool in a little water first, shaking out the excess drops. The water will soften the frosting slightly, and make it easier to spread smoothly.[8]

Part 2
Piping the Cake

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    Fill a piping bag with frosting. For more advanced frosting decoration, you'll need a piping bag with a piping tip attachment on the small hole. Fill this with excess frosting, tamping it down near the tip, then twist the top of the bag to keep it closed.
    • If the frosting isn't tamped down hard enough, air bubbles may cause breaks or splatter when you squeeze.
    • If you don't own a piping bag, learn how to make your own out of parchment paper or a plastic bag. Homemade piping bags may be flimsy and more difficult to handle, however, and cannot typically be twisted without spilling the frosting.
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    Learn how to handle a piping bag. If you've never piped frosting before, practice a little on parchment paper first. Grasp a small handful of frosting near the base, separating it from the rest of the frosting-filled bag by twisting the bag. Hold the tip with this hand, and use your other hand to steady your first hand. Hold the piping tip at a 90º angle above the paper, and move it just above the surface as you gently squeeze, getting a feel for how hard you need to squeeze to create an attractive, unbroken design.
    • Some people find it easier if they grasp the bag with their dominant hand and steady it with their non-dominant hand, while others prefer the other way around.[9] Try out both to see which is more comfortable.
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    Pipe decorations around the border of the cake. For the classic ruffled cake border, use any piping tip with a wavy or star shape. Move the piping bag slowly around the circumference of the top layer, while squeezing.
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    Pipe more elaborate decorations. For more complex piping decorations, consider trying a design on a square of parchment paper. The paper can then be chilled in the refrigerator to make the design less fragile, then the design can be transferred carefully onto the top of the cake.

Part 3
Adding Additional Decorations

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    Sprinkle edible decor on top. Besides actual sprinkles, you could use chopped nuts, crumbled cookies, or small, soft candies such as jellybeans. For a more striking effect, use dark objects on light colored icing and vice versa.
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    Create complex designs with fondant. Fondant is a special type of icing with a more dough-like consistency. Purchase it at a baking supply store or make it at home, then sculpt it into designs for the top of your cake.
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    Decorate with fruit. Small slices of fruit are often arranged on the top of lemon cakes, or cakes with light frosting. You can use an array of brightly colored fruit slices, or decorate more fancifully with strawberry fans.
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    Powder a lace pattern onto your cake. Select a paper lace pattern, or an old lace doily, and lay it over the center of your cake. Use a sifter or sieve to sprinkle powdered sugar or cocoa powder over the cake, then lift up the lace pattern to witness the results.
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Things You'll Need

  • Frosting
  • Two layers of cake (baked in separate pans, or one tall cake cut in half)
  • Spoon
  • Offset spatula (an ordinary spatula will work, but may scrape the cake)
  • Refrigerator
  • Piping bag
  • Piping tip


  • You should allow the cake to cool before icing it so that the frosting doesn't melt.
  • Add strips of parchment paper or waxed paper around the cake plate edges. When you are done frosting the cake, remove the paper strips. This will help keep your plate clean.
  • The thicker you want the layers to be, the more icing you add.

Article Info

Categories: Frosting Icing and Fondant | Cake Decorating