How to Build a Crumb Coat?
Before this baking journey I began 5 months ago, I had no clue what a crumb coat was. Now, I can't imagine decorating without one.
So What is a Crumb Coat?
A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting on a cake so catch the crumbs from the actual cake and to help you create smooth creaseless layer cake. You create a crumb coat first and then set in the fridge/freezer to set the frosting. This catches any crumbs and prevents them from getting in your final layer of frosting. A crumb coat also helps layer cakes get those clean edges for a cleaner looking cake.
Here is everything I used and the steps I take to take my cakes from this.... to this.
What Do I Need For a Crumb Coat?
These materials are in no way required to make a crumb coat, but I highly recommend it! Having these tools just makes it so much easier. The materials I use are:
Kootek All-In-One Cake Decorating Kit
The Kootek decorating kit includes:
2 icing spatulas
12 numbered cake decorating tips
3 icing smoothers
2 Silicone piping bags
50 disposable pastry bags
Cake board are important for two reasons: support and display. If you are making a multi tier layer cake, it is important to have a cake board between each tier for support. It is also important to have a cake board on single tier cakes for cake transfer. It makes it very simple to move your cake from the turntable to your cake stand or travel case. Important note: Buy your cake boards BIGGER than the size of your cake. This is especially important if you buy scalloped edges like I did. I bought 9" cake boards and usually make 9" cakes. So my cakes are edge to edge with the cake boards. When I am trying to smooth out your frosting. you don't want to keep running up against the edges of the cake board. The scallop edges can cause you to have so indents in the frosting. Buying bigger cake board allows more room for decorating.
My turntable came in the Kootek decorating kit. Turntables are SO important for decorating. They make it soooo much easier. You can stay decorating in one spot but turning the turntable allows you to access all over your cake in one swift movement. This is a plastic one and there are nicer, stainless steel ones, but this one does the trick and I have no problems with this one.
The Kootek kit comes with two spatulas, an offset spatula and a straight spatula. The offset spatula is used to smooth and push down frosting on the top of the cake. Use a straight spatula for the sides of the cake.
There are three smoothers that come in the Kootek kit. One has jagged edges that can be used to put designs in frosting, like so:
The most important smoother is the straight edge one. This is what you will use to smooth your buttercream when frosting a cake. You can see this used more in the next section as I take through the steps of making a crumb coat.
Build a Crumb Cake
This cake you will see me make a crumb coat for is the chocolate peanut butter cake. If you would like to make this recipe, you can go here.
1. Set your cake board to the turntable. In order to keep your cake from moving around on the turntable, take a little bit of frosting and place the frosting between the turntable and the cake board. Place the turntable in the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes. This will set the frosting and keep the cake board in place.
2. Place the first layer on the cake board. Take the first layer of your cake and place it on the cake board. Then with a spatula or a piping bag, put a dollop of frosting on top of the first layer. Push the frosting down with the offset spatula. Spread a thick layer of frosting around.
If you have any candies, nuts, etc that you want in between your layers like so this is where you can add it.
3. Place your next layer. Place the second layer of your cake on top. I normally make two layer cakes so for me this is my top layer. If you have more than two layers, repeat the previous step - frost, spread, add layer until your final layer. Since the is the top, I always flip the last layer upside down. The very top of the cake will be what was inside the cake pan. This is to make sure the top of your cake has those clean, defined edges.
4. Begin your crumb coat. There are several ways to begin your crumb coat. Some pipe frosting all the way around the edges, but I have found easiest to work from the top down. Place a big dollop on top and with your offset spatula, push the icing down while you spread the frosting around. (I know this is randomly a different cake, but while baking the chocolate peanut butter cake, I forgot to snap a picture of this step so enjoy the Berry Mascarpone cake.)
To turn your cake and get your turntable toward you, take your non dominant hand a spin the turntable toward you. With your dominant hand you will be spreading the frosting.
5. Spread the excess frosting down the side. When you push the top frosting down and around the top, it will push the frosting over the edge of the top of the cake. Take your straight edge spatula and start spreading the frosting down the sides.
Make sure you spin the turntable. You can keep the spatula in one place and frost your cake by spinning the cake on the turntable.
6. Smooth and thin your crumb coat. Once your entire cake is frosted, it is time to smooth your cakes. Take the straight edge smoother and press it against the side of the cake. Spin the cake and smooth out your frosting. Make sure to keep the same amount of pressure while your smooth. You do not want little indents around your cake where you can see different pressure points.
Something I have learned is when you are using the smoother, you want to hold it at an angle. You don't want it straight on 90°, keep it more like 45° angle. This will also keep your frosting smooth. When you take the smoother to the side of the cake, it will have a build up of frosting. Make sure you wipe it off into a bowl to clean the tool and then go back to smoothing the cake.
7. Wipe the frosting off the top edges.The smoother will push the frosting upwards toward the top. We want to get rid of that. Switch back to your offset spatula. Take your offset spatular and wipe the frosting inwards to the middle of your cake. Clean that frosting off the spatular between each swipe.
8. Place in the fridge. Once your cake is as smooth and clean as you want it, place your crumb coat in the fridge for 30 minutes - 1 hour. I usually put it in for at least 45 minutes. If you are pressed for time and have a big freezer, you can place it in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Now you have a crumb coat and you are ready to continue decorating!