Welcome back from the long weekend! I am working on a cake to share later this week and I realized we post a lot of cake recipes, and that many of you may not know exactly how to crumb coat a cake. It is something that's not always necessary when baking at home, but if you are trying to perfect your cake baking skills then this is something you'll want to learn. Crumb coating a cake is basically just that. You create a coat of frosting that holds in all the crumbs. This will help the crumbs stay hidden inside so they don't show on your outside layer of frosting, which will make your cake prettier! So here's some basic steps to crumb coat a cake.
Have your cake baked and cooled.
Once the cake is cooled, you can freeze it to make stacking and crumb coating easier. We do this almost always at the bakery. Just place your cake layers (still in the pans) in the freezer. The trick is not freeze them completely, but freeze them so they are firm. Having cake layers that are too frozen will make your frosting freeze as you're frosting the cake, which makes it more difficult. But having a firm cake layer will make stacking and crumb coating easier because you can apply more pressure without breaking the fragile cake. The magic number is usually somewhere between 15 to 20 minutes in the freezer. Once they've been in the freezer for that long, remove the cake pans and then cut out your cakes. I do this using just a butter knife and go around the sides of the pan and then pop your cakes out by turning the pans upside down. If you notice that the middle is still a little warm, feel free to put them back in the freezer until it's firm. While the cake is in the freezer, you can use that time to make the frosting.
Once your frosting is made and the cakes are firm, place a dab of frosting onto your cake round or your cake stand if you're frosting directly onto the stand. You can buy cake rounds at places like PaperMart if that's something you want to invest in. You can get cake rounds that are larger than your cakes, for example we use 8-inch rounds for 6-inch cakes at the bakery so people can easily take them out of the box. If I want to take photos and don't want the cake round to show, then I'll use a 6-inch round, or the same size as the cake. Wherever your cake is going to stay permanently is where to add this little dollop of frosting. This will make your cake stick and not slide around when you're frosting it on the spinner. A spinner is another tool that you don't have to have, but it's a really good investment if you're going to bake a lot of cakes. You can find them pretty much anywhere baking tools are sold, here's a link to the ones we use at the bakery on Amazon. And here's a link to the wood spinner I used below, which I absolutely love for having at home because you can literally serve a cake on this it's so pretty! Find it here.
Place your first cake layer on top of the frosting dollop and press down firmly. If your cake is firm, this will be no problem, another reason why I like to semi freeze the layers.
Then, add a generous amount of frosting onto the cake layer and spread evenly using a cake spatula. This is another tool that is something you'll want to have if you're baking and frosting a lot of layer cakes. Here's a link to my favorite kind, just click here. I prefer the straight ones, but there are also angled ones if you like those as well. Top with your second cake layer and repeat this process until all your layers are stacked. When stacking cake layers, this is where you look for imperfections in the cake and if some layers are a little lopsided, arrange them so together once stacked they create an even cake. You can even trim off portions of the cake layers if yours are uneven. Using a bread knife or a cake trimmer works best for this.
Once your cake is stacked, then you're going to add a little more frosting to the sides and smooth it. The trick here is adding as little frosting as possible. You just want to coat the cake, you don't want to have a thick layer of frosting. You also want to save all the frosting you can for your last coat of frosting. So using as little as possible is best for this step. After the sides are done, move to the top and coat just enough so there is no cake showing. You'll see cake coming through the frosting, but it should all have a thin layer of frosting on it.
You are done! You have successfully crumb coated your cake. You can now put it back in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes to let it harden before adding your finishing frosting. Or, you can also leave it out because the buttercream will harden eventually, the choice is yours. It might depend on how much time you have or if you want to speed up your process.