Ina Garten's Frosting Tip For Crumb-Free Cakes

Ina Garten has a knack for finding ways to make kitchen tasks just a little bit easier. She has already taught us a serving tip to make homemade cake look way better. If you find baking intimidating because it is difficult to achieve a professional-looking presentation, once again the Barefoot Contessa comes to the rescue.

One of the most common complaints when icing a cake is the fact that tiny crumbs from the cake can easily get into the fluffy frosting as it is spread on the layers. Of course, this negatively affects the presentation of your special occasion cake. Pastry chefs often suggest adding a time-consuming crumb coat to the cake first. It's effective, sure, but it adds hours to the process.

Instead of applying this pesky crumb coat, Ina Garten has a much simpler tip for crumb-free cakes. She suggests frosting the cake in a single direction, not going back and forth with the knife or spatula. This allows the frosting to be applied smoothly and without crumbs.

A crumb-free hack without adding a crumb coat

The most common tip you will see when it comes to frosting a cake is to add a crumb coat. This means that you will first apply a very thin layer of frosting to the cake, let it chill and set in the refrigerator, and then finish the cake with what will be your thicker, real layer of frosting. While this is the technique used by professional pastry chefs, it may not be practical for home cooks.

Ina Garten's tip is easier and quicker for home cooks to follow. The Barefoot Contessa suggests pushing the icing only in one direction as you frost the cake, telling viewers to not use a back-and-forth motion. That pushing and pulling in different directions causes crumbs to lift up from the cake and into your beautiful frosting.

Also, if you want to keep the cake stand or cake plate perfectly clean, place four strips of parchment paper or wax paper down before adding the bottom cake layer. Garten also tells viewers to use the spatula to cut along the bottom edge of the cake, separating the frosting from the cake from the spillage on the plate. This way, after the cake is frosted, you can easily pull away the paper to reveal a perfectly clean surface all around the cake. Of course, if all else fails, you can always hide messy frosting with strategic ingredients

More tips for frosting a picture perfect cake

For another crumb-free hack, all you need to do is keep the cake layers in the refrigerator until you are ready to frost your cake. A well-chilled cake will be firmer and less likely to crumble as frosting is applied. It also helps keep delicate cakes from tearing while being frosted. The best part is — not only does refrigerating the layers allow for crumb-free application of the frosting, but it also allows you to prepare most of the cake in advance of when it will be served. Any tips for a stress-free day of entertaining are well worth it.

Finally, it helps to keep the right tools on hand. Instead of using a butter knife or a spoon to frost a cake, invest in an offset spatula. The slight bend in the spatula will allow the frosting to be applied without your hands bumping and smearing all your hard work. For a gorgeously clean finish to the cake, you can run the spatula under warm water, then dry it off, to smooth out the frosting at the end. Slightly heating the metal is just enough warmth to achieve that smooth and shiny final touch.