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How to Frost a Layer Cake

Get tips for baking and frosting layered cakes on the same day, or days in advance. Plus general cake frosting tips. MORE+ LESS-

When making a layered cake, plan ahead. Read through the entire cake and frosting recipe before starting. Many layered cakes can be prepared in a day. Or, you can spread out the preparation over a few days or weeks. 

Tips for Baking and Frosting Cakes on the Same Day 

  • Make frosting while the cake bakes. Allow several hours to bake and cool the cake layers. You can make the frosting while the cake layers bake. After making the frosting, tightly cover with plastic wrap. 
  • Serve immediately, or soon after. You can bake, assemble and decorate a layered cake the day of or the day before you serve it. If you wait a day, store the cake in a cool place. 

Tips for Baking and Frosting Cakes in Advance 

  • How to bake cake layers in advance. Cake layers can be baked up to 3 weeks in advance. Cool layers completely, wrap in foil and freeze. Before stacking layers in the freezer, freeze layers at least 12 hours before placing another layer on top. To use frozen cake layers, unwrap and let thaw about 2 to 3 hours before frosting and decorating. 
  • How to make frosting in advance. Frosting can be prepared up to 2 days ahead. Store covered in refrigerator. To use, let stand about 1 hour to bring to room temperature; stir until smooth. 

General Cake and Frosting Tips 

  • Do not use cooking spray on cake pans. The cake needs to cling to the sides as it bakes. This allows the cake to rise higher and gives it a smoother crust. 
  • Tips for trans-fat free frosting recipes. When making frosting using trans-fat free shortening, use 1 tablespoon meringue powder per 1 cup shortening to make the frosting stiff enough to spread. Skipping the meringue power and only adding more powdered sugar won’t make the frosting stiffer.