Before you start covering a cake with modeling chocolate, modeling chocolate decorations, fondant, or decorative icing of any kind, you will need to prepare the cake for decorating. If you properly prepare the cake then you should end up with a polished and professional looking decorated cake. It is tempting to skip this step to save time, but don’t. Start with a cake that is completely cool to the touch. Do any leveling, splitting, filling, or shaping. Now, you will add a thin layer of buttercream frosting to cover the crumbs — hence the name “crumb coat.”
- A completely cooled and leveled cake
- Buttercream frosting (at room temperature)
- OPTIONAL: an icing spatula
As soon as your cake is cool you will apply a thin layer of butter cream frosting.
Gently brush off any crumbs from the cake’s surface.
Start by frosting the top of the cake. Apply a thin layer of frosting. As you apply the frosting try not to scrape up crumbs from the cake. Don’t worry about how the frosting looks. The goal here is to cover the cake, not make it look perfect. Do make sure that you cover all corners and edges with frosting.
Load your spatula with frosting from the top to the bottom. Now begin to frost the sides of the cake. Again, make sure that you cover all exposed edges and corners.
After the entire cake is covered in frosting, you will go over the frosted cake with your spatula to remove any unnecessary frosting. Start with the sides of the cake. Sweep your spatula from left to right collecting any unneeded frosting. When you reach the end of that side, turn the cake and complete the next side. Continue until you have smoothed all of the sides. If you can see the cake through the icing then you’ve done a great job.
Now you probably have a lip of frosting that has climbed up to the top of the cake. Working on the top of the cake and using the spatula, smooth the frosting by moving from the outside top edges to the center of the cake. Again, don’t worry if you can see the cake through the icing. When you have finished smoothing and removing excess frosting, you’ve finished applying the crumb coat.
Refrigerate the cake for 10-15 minutes to allow the crumb coat to firm up.
- If you will not be decorating the cake right away, cover the cake in two layers of plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator.
- Are you working on a cake so large that it won’t fit in your refrigerator? Allow the butercream frosting to dry before continuing to decorate the cake. The icing should be dry to the touch before you continue to decorate the cake.
- If the buttercream frosting is too difficult to spread you can thin it with a few drops of water or milk. Mix well before applying to the cake.