How To Frost A Cake

11/04/2011 10:42 am ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

In this video, a chef-instructor from The Culinary Institute of America shows the tools and techniques you'll need to make beautiful cakes.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

I'm Chef Rossomando from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to ice a cake.

The basic tools you're going to be using are your rubber spatula and your offset spatula - which is slightly angled, which makes me feel like I have have a better control over the cake. To finish off we may use a simple rubber bowl scraper, which is very flexible with a very straight edge, and finally a cake comb. Cake combs all have different teeth sizes, so they'll give you different indentations and different kinds of textures.

The turntable is not absolutely necessary, but just gives you a really good angle on the cake. Elevating the cake is always really important when you're doing cake work. You want to make sure you get a good perspective of the cake.

To start off with, I have a basic buttercream that's already been whipped. My cake has been sitting out for about two or three hours. You want to make sure the cake has no residual heat on the inside because that could eventually melt the top of your buttercream. The buttercream should be relatively warm, at room temperature, I would say anywhere between 75 to 85 degrees.

I always start on the top of the cake. Let everything spill off to the sides, and then you finish the sides. I just go back and forth, in a back and forth motion, to get the buttercream to just hit all the top edges. Then I'm going to let the turntable do all the work. I'm just rotating the turntable, using the angle of the spatula to make sure the buttercream exceeds the sides of the cake. You have a pretty flat level surface now, and then you want to start finishing off the sides of the cake.

Your cardboard will be where your buttercream lines up to, so that'll be an eighth of an inch guide. I'm applying buttercream all the way around, making sure you have quite a bit; then we're going to go around a couple of times and take off the excess. I love this rubber spatula; this rubber spatula or bowl scraper has a nice straight edge to it. By just using the cardboard and this bowl scraper, you're going to get a beautiful straight edge; it pulls away just the excess. So now you can see you have a really clean edge - and then we'll just clean off the top. Using the offset spatula again, I start off in a twelve o'clock direction and just pull in to the center of the cake. I'm working my way around: twelve o'clock two o'clock three o'clock.

To finish the side of the cake, we have two types of cake combs - both with different sized teeth, and the different sized teeth will each give you a different pattern. The cake comb actually gives a really clean beautiful finish, and it's super easy - it's just nice and uniform all the way around.

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