How To Ice a Cake

How To Ice a Cake

When it comes to baking cakes, one of the hardest things to master is the icing. When you first start out, it’s hard enough just baking a cake that doesn’t sink, is perfectly cooked in the middle and isn’t burnt around the edges! But icing is a whole different kettle of fish. It’s hard. In fact I’m not going to lie to you… it’s really hard to begin with.

When I first started out, I found that the internet was my friend. There are some great tutorials out there which give you some helpful tips on how to get your cake looking like it’s been iced by a professional. But please be assured, the ability to ice a cake perfectly comes with plenty of practice, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t get it straight away.

To help you along, here’s my step-by-step guide on how to cover a cake first with marzipan (if you’re covering a fruitcake, then this is a must), and then with fondant. Good luck!

Covering your cake with marzipan

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  1. Once your cake is out of the oven, sit on on a wire cooling rack until it is completely cold.
  2. Next, warm some apricot jam with a little water in a saucepan until just boiling. Take it off the heat and allow to cool. Use the apricot jam to stick your cake to the surface of whatever your cake will be sitting on (usually a cake board or plate). This will prevent your cake from moving around while you’re icing it.
  3. Level your cake if necessary using a sharp knife.how-to-ice-a-cake-2
  4. Brush the cake with jam so that your marzipan will stick to it.how-to-ice-a-cake-1
  5. Dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out your marzipan to about 0.5cm thick. I use the bottom of my cake tin to check I have rolled it out to the right size. You’ll need about 4 inches extra around the edge of your tin, as shown in the photo above.how-to-ice-a-cake-3
  6. Now it’s time to lift your marzipan onto your cake. I usually reach underneath and pick mine up with both hands, although if you prefer, you can roll it over your rolling pin, pick it up and then gently unroll it on top of your cake.how-to-ice-a-cake-5
  7. Smooth the marzipan over your cake with your hands, tucking it in nicely around the bottom.how-to-ice-a-cake-6
  8. Use an icing smoother to make sure your marzipan is neatly smoothed down on the top and on all edges.how-to-ice-a-cake-7
  9. Trim the excess marzipan with a sharp knife.

 

Covering your cake with fondant

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  1. Dust your work surface with corn flour and then knead your fondant for about 5 minutes or until soft and pliable. Roll the fondant into a ball and then flatten slightly with your hand so that it’s easier to start your rolling.how-to-ice-a-cake-10
  2. Dust your rolling pin with corn flour and roll out your fondant to a circle large enough to cover your cake and about 0.5cm thick. Using the same technique above, I use the base of my cake tin to check it’s large enough. I usually allow an extra 5 inches around the edge for fondant, just to make sure I’m not left with any gaps. It’s better to have too much and trim the excess than not have enough.how-to-ice-a-cake-12how-to-ice-a-cake-13

     

  3. Use an icing smoother to make sure your icing is completely flat and smooth.how-to-ice-a-cake-14
  4. Brush your marzipan covered cake with a clear alcohol such as vodka. This helps the fondant stick to the marzipan. Alcohol is better than water for this because it dries out and doesn’t leave you with sticky icing. If you’re icing a sponge cake, you should crumb coat your cake with buttercream, rather than use vodka.how-to-ice-a-cake-15how-to-ice-a-cake-16
  5. Lift the fondant onto your cake using the same method described above for the marzipan. Smooth down with your hands, and the trim the excess with a sharp knife.how-to-ice-a-cake-17
  6. Use an icing smoother on the top and sides of your cake. It’s really handy to have two icing smoothers for this part, one with a straight edge and one with a rounded edge. To get nice sharp edges on your fondant, use the two smoothers together, pressing the straight edge one down the side of the cake at 180 degrees (straight edge on the bottom of the work surface) and the other one pressing down on top of the cake. Push the two smoothers together quite firmly at 90 degree angle to one another. Repeat this the whole way around your cake and you should end up with a nice flat top and sharp edges.how-to-ice-a-cake-18
  7. Trim off any more excess from the bottom. Ta-da, you have a perfectly iced cake ready for decorating!