How to Frost

In baking, the difference between good and great can be as simple as a layer of frosting. This article on how to frost will help you take your baking to the next level.

How to Frost 101

By adding frosting to your cakes and cupcakes, you'll not only enhance their taste but also give them extra visual appeal. Frosting your baked goods may seem difficult at first, but it's actually quite easy to do. All you need is a slow and steady hand and knowledge of a few basic frosting techniques. By learning to frost, you'll save money and also gain control over the frost ingredients, including sugar content, allowing you to make healthier choices for your family. 

Frosting Tips:

  • Never heat frosting too much as it burns easily
  • Frosting isn't just for cake; it goes well on many other baked goods, including cupcakes, cookies and brownies
  • Make sure your baked good is fully cooled before applying frosting
  • You can use food colouring to change the colour of your frosting, and foods such as crushed candy cane and shaved chocolate to add texture and flavour.

Task Overview

Estimated time: 20 min
Estimated cost: $20
Skill level: Beginner
Number of people required: 1

Tools & Ingedients:


  1. Choose a frosting
    There are three basic categories of delicious, sugary frosting: buttercream, royal icing and fondant. Buttercream frosting, which primarily contains butter or shortening and powdered sugar, is thick and creamy. Royal icing, which consists mostly of eggs whites and powdered sugar, turns hard as it sets. Fondant contains mostly powdered sugar, corn syrup and water, though some recipes call for a fat. It has a clay-like consistency that allows it to be rolled and used for cutouts.
  2. Only apply frosting at room temperature
    You should only apply frosting when it's at room temperature. If frosting is hot, it won't set properly and could weaken your baked goods. If frosting is cold, it's difficult, if not impossible, to spread.
  3. Start with a crumb coating
    Before you frost your cake, there will be loose crumbs on the surface that could get in the way of the great-looking coating you plan to apply. A crumb coating is a thin layer of frosting designed to trap the crumbs. By applying a crumb coating, you're essentially priming the cake surface so the final layer will go on smoothly and without incident.
  4. Apply the crumb coating
    Begin by using your basting or pastry brush to gently remove as many crumbs from the cake as possible. Next, use your spatula to apply a thin coat of frosting. There are many ways to apply frosting, but a common method is to start on top in the centre of the cake and work outwards to the edges and then down the sides. To frost the sides evenly, hold the spatula in one hand and rotate the cake with the other. If you use a turntable, rotating the cake will be easier, and you're more likely to apply the frosting smoothly and evenly.
  5. Refrigerate for 30-60 minutes
    After crumb coating your cake, you should refrigerate it for 30 to 60 minutes. This will harden the crumb coating, making it easier to applying the final coat. The frosting is hard enough when a lightly-pressed finger comes away clean.
  6. Apply the show coat
    Once your crumb coating hardens, remove the cake from the fridge and begin applying the final coat, also known as the show coat. Again, start on top in the centre and, using the same basic approach as for the crumb coat, carefully work your way outward and down the sides.
  7. Refrigerate again for smooth cake
    If you want the frosting to have a smooth appearance, refrigerate your cake again for 30 to 45 minutes. This technique works particularly well for heavier, cream-based frosting.
  8. Smooth the icing with a spatula
    You can also use your angled spatula to create a smooth surface on your frosting. Start by dipping the spatula in a cup of hot water and shaking off the excess. Then run the spatula over the tops and sides, rewetting it as required. Keep going until the entire cake is smooth.
  9. Decorate with sprinkles
    Kids love the look and taste of sprinkles on cakes and other baked goods. Add your sprinkles while the frosting is still wet so they stick and stay put.

Make Your Own Royal Icing

You can buy pre-made frosting at the grocery store, but it's easy to make at home. Follow these easy steps to make your own basic royal icing mix:
  1. Pour one cup of powdered sugar, also known as "confectioners' sugar" and "icing sugar" into a small/medium bowl.
  2. Add one to three tablespoons of milk, cream, water or orange juice.
  3. Stir with a wooden spoon or other large spoon.
  4. Test the consistency, adding more liquid or powdered sugar as required to get your desired effect.
  5. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 to 60 minutes to thicken.
  6. Add a flavouring ingredient, such as vanilla extract, lemon juice, almond extract or chocolate.
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.



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