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How to Crumb Coat a Cake to Frost a Cake Without Crumbs

Updated on March 10, 2009

How To Ice A Cake Without Crumbs: How To Crumb Coat A Cake

The first step in decorating a cake is often the hardest part: how to ice a cake without crumbs. How many times have you started to frost a cake only to find that the frosting tears the top of the cake, mixing crumbs all through the frosting? Fortunately, there are a few simple tips, the most important being how to crumb coat a cake, that will show even an inexperienced cake decorator how to ice a cake without crumbs.

Photo by timsamoff on Flickr at
Photo by timsamoff on Flickr at

Start With A Completely Cooled Cake

The first step in icing a cake with no crumbs is to make sure the cake is not too freshly baked. At the very least, the cake must be completely cooled before you start to put any icing on it. It also works perfectly well to bake the cake several days or more early and freeze it until you're ready to decorate, with the added bonus that you'll have one less thing to do as you're getting ready for your special occasion.

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How To Crumb Coat A Cake To Avoid Crumbs

What is a crumb coat? And why would you want a crumb coat when you're trying to find out how to ice a cake without crumbs? A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting or icing that is applied to a cake as a first step to perfect icing. The crumb coat holds any loose crumbs, keeping them out of your visible layer of frosting. A crumb coat is the answer to how to ice a cake without crumbs.

Learning how to crumb coat a cake is not difficult. You'll need your icing to be thinned out a little bit so that the crumb coat will be as thin as possible. To thin your icing, stir in a few drops of milk or water until the frosting is nearly the consistency of a glaze to just barely cover the cake in a very thin layer. Don't worry about some crumbs getting in the frosting of the crumb coating; those crumbs will be sealed in when this layer dries.

Before you go on to the next step of adding your top layer of frosting, be sure to let the crumb coating dry and set for at least two hours. Knowing how to crumb coat a cake is the most important technique you'll need for a beautifully frosted cake.

How To Ice A Cake, Step 3

Finally, apply the last layer of frosting over the crumb coating. Start with a dollop of frosting in the middle of the cake and spread it out toward the edges. At this stage you'll want to try for an even, fairly smooth layer, but it doesn't have to be perfect.

Next, frost the sides of the cake. Hold the spatula upright as you turn the cake, spreading the icing all the way around the sides. For best results, keep the spatula as clean as possible while you're working. When the sides are covered, carefully run the edge of the spatula around the corner edge of the top of the cake to remove any extra frosting that has accumulated there.

Finishing The Cake

At this final step, you have some options. You can run your spatula over the cake in swirls for a homemade look, or cover the cake in store-bought, ready-to-use decorations. For a more professional finish, get the icing as smooth as possible by dipping the spatula in hot water, drying it off, and running it across the surface of the frosting in smooth, long strokes.

The Key To Perfect Frosting Is In How To Crumb Coat A Cake

Now that you have the secret weapon of how to crumb coat a cake, you're sure to see better results the next time you ice a cake. Knowing how to ice a cake will let you focus on the decorating and will get you well on your way to creating beautiful cakes.

Want to Learn More About Decorating Cakes?

You can learn how to decorate beautiful cakes by taking a cake decorating class online. Whether you want to learn some basic techniques to make cakes for family and friends, or more advanced decorating skills to start a cake decorating business, online cake decorating classes are a great place to start. Learn more about online cake decorating courses.

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Share Your Tips for Frosting a Cake Without Crumbs

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    • profile image

      fouzia 7 years ago

      yummy cake..................but not the 1st one:)

    • profile image

      K8'sMom 7 years ago

      Thank you so much for the tip about thinning the icing down. Everyone tells you to put a crumb coat on, but they never said to thin the icing down, so it was tearing my cakes up.. I just started learning to do all of this by myself, and your tip has REALLY helped me out.. Thank you:)

    • freaknoodles profile image

      freaknoodles 8 years ago from Florida, USA

      Great tips, Pam_Cakes. Thanks!

    • Pam_Cakes profile image

      Pam_Cakes 8 years ago from Chicago

      Great point about thinning icing before applying the crumb coat. it takes some practice, but it is completely feasible to ice your cake without first applying a crumb coat. Make sure icing sits out to "thaw" or put in microwave for a few seconds. Glop a bunch of icing on the top and allow yourself a decent margin between your spatula and top/sides of cake so you don't pick up crumbs. Lifting up the spatula will tear off the top of your cake and let in crumbs so make sure you use the side-to-side swishing motion and gently lift your spatula at the end. Icing from the top and bring the top's icing down to the sides is the best way to avoid crumbs too. The top of the cake should be finished before you start the sides.

      Thanks for the hub and for including my two-cents on this.