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How to Decorate a Cake with Buttercream Icing

Learn how to decorate a cake with buttercream icing from pastry chef Amanda Oakleaf in this Howcast video.


Hi, my name is Amanda Oakleaf. I am owner, head baker, decorator of Amanda Oakleaf Cakes in Winthrop, Massachusetts where we do custom cakes of all kinds -- wedding cakes, birthday cakes, sculpted cakes. Anything you can think of we can make it into a cake. And today I will be talking to you about cake decorating. So now we're going to go through the steps of butter creaming a cake. We bake our cakes in two. One is the ticker version twice as high as the other. That way when you cut this one in half, and this one, we're just going to level it. We'll have three layers of cake and two layers of filling inside. This tool that I have here is a cake leveler. It's just a serrated wire and we adjust the notches on the side to the cake we want. We just want to take off this dome on the top of the cake. That way your cake stacks up nice and level. We're going to cut our most thick one in half. Now we have three layers of cake. So you want to start with that. A little bit of butter cream on the cardboard round helps the cake to stick. First layer. Make sure it's centered right in the middle of the cardboard. A big scoop of frosting in the middle. You want to use a miss america wave technique and that will spread the frosting evenly and spin the turn table with your opposite hand as you go. And don't worry if some hangs off the edge, that's perfectly fine. We're going to use that later to frost the sides of the cake. Now to level it off you want to spin the turntable with one hand and then use the spatula spreader to level it. So make sure you keep this level and keep one hand still. Spin the turntable, and that will scrape off all the extras and level off the cake. Again, leave this extra frosting on the outside. That will help us in the end. Next cake layer, and then repeat the same process for the next layer. The last layer, if we flip it over we'll have a nice sealed edge and that will keep a lot of crumbs out of our final coat. So an even bigger scoop on the top of the cake. We're going to do the outside. You want all that frosting to fall over the edge. Then you want to level off the top same as the other two layers. You want to do that same miss america wave that we were doing here on the side so work now perpendicular to the table and you can add frosting as you go. It's not going to be enough, what we have here. It's better to start with more frosting on the cake than you think. We can always scrape it off, however if we scrape too far you're going to have crumbs mixed in and it won't be as pretty. So we want to use our dough cutter. You can do this in a spinning motion keeping your right hand still, and you want to keep it straight up and down keeping it perpendicular to so that levels it. Then add a little decoration. You can use a comb piece, you could use a fork, and you want to do this all in one motion. You don't want to stop and go. So you can wrap one hand all the way around, double over, and you should be able to get that pattern all in one turn around. You can see the peaks that we have up here. You want to make sure your spatula's all cleaned off. Then you want to pull these in and level off, and that's our cake and you're ready to decorate.

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