How to Correct Badly Iced Cakes

Written by michael cohen
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How to Correct Badly Iced Cakes
Correctly icing a cake is more difficult than it seems. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Icing a cake correctly is more challenging than it seems, and unfortunately once a mistake has been made, it's difficult to erase. Issues such as overly-warm frosting or a crumbling cake can turn even the best tasting confection awry. Whether the problem is a crack, sloppy lettering or crumb-filled frosting, the fix is the same.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Cake
  • Offset spatula or long flat-bladed knife
  • Icing

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  1. 1

    Remove as much of the existing icing as you can using the offset spatula or long flat-bladed knife by carefully scraping the icing off of the cake in long, steady motions. If the cake is a layer cake, and you have already put the layers together, do not attempt to separate them. Don't scrape too hard, and don't worry if there is still a thin coating of icing left.

  2. 2

    Place the cake in the refrigerator, uncovered. Allow the cake to chill for at least one hour.

  3. 3

    Transfer the cake to the freezer for 15 minutes once it has thoroughly chilled in the refrigerator. Quick-chilling the cake in this way will cause its exterior to become extremely firm, without freezing the inside.

  4. 4

    Prepare a new batch of icing while the cake chills. Follow whatever recipe you used to create the original icing. Do not attempt to apply a different type of icing to the cake.

  5. 5

    Re-frost the cake. Begin by applying a "crumb coat" if necessary. A "crumb coat" is a thin layer of icing which traps in crumbs, and creates a smooth surface for the final coat of icing. If you were successful in scraping the majority of the failed icing job off of the cake, you will need to add a crumb coat. If a thin coating of icing still remains on the cake, it's better to skip the crumb coat. Apply the crumb coat as a very thin layer (less than 1/4 inch). Begin with the top of the cake, working the icing out from the centre in long, broad strokes. Once the top is completely covered, move down to the sides.

  6. 6

    Return the cake to the refrigerator for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. This cool-down will allow the first layer of icing to set and become workable. If you did not apply a new crumb coat, there is no need to re-chill the cake.

  7. 7

    Remove the cake from the refrigerator and apply a top coat of icing. Apply the top coat in exactly the same manner as the crumb coat, working from the top down to the sides.

Tips and warnings

  • When all else fails, you can apply garnishes (such as strawberries) to the cake to mask any inconsistencies in the icing.

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