How To Stack and Crumb Coat a Cake

I recently made a wedding cake and decided to document some of the steps of assembling a layer cake. I've been making cakes for a few years (though I don't consider myself a pro by any means), but I can definitely say I've learned quite a few useful tips and tricks that have helped make things easier. 

Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.

Stacking and frosting are some basic cake decorating skills necessary for a good cake. I know all too well what happens if your layers are uneven, crooked, or if your filling layer is too thick...so many ways it can go wrong! But don't let that deter you-- it is possible! I'll show you how!

First, I have a video showing the entire process of stacking, and crumb coating the cake.

For those who aren't familiar with what a crumb coat is... It's when you apply a rough layer of frosting to the cake to seal the crumbs in. Think of it as primer under paint. It is especially useful for cakes like this one in the video, with dark crumbs and light frosting. You'd be able to spot chocolate crumbs in that frosting a mile away! So I crumb coated it first, and after it set in the refrigerator, I was able to frost on top of the cold hard frosting without any worries of crumbs! 

Please excuse my rookie movie editing skills. Hopefully you get the picture! And in case you didn't, I'm also including photos, along with detailed instructions. Beginning with how to cut your layers.

Cutting the layers: Start with cooled cakes. I prefer to freeze the layers, this makes cutting and stacking them much easier. Frozen, or chilled cakes are easier to handle. Using a serrated knife, mark the outside of the cake with the knife as a guide, and to make sure your line is straight. Hold the cake gently, but firmly on the top, as you start to cut through the side of the cake. Cut a little, and turn the cake. Cut, turn, cut turn, all the way around until you've cut all the way through.

Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.

Removing the cut layers: Gently remove the top layer. I use a large cake lifter. Other tools that work well: pastry blender, bench scraper, or even an offset frosting spatula works well. Remove and set onto a cake board until you need it. You can cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you're ready to use it.

Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.
Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.

Remove stray crumbs: Brush away any stray crumbs.

Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.

Fill layers: Scoop about 1 cup of frosting onto the layer. Using an offset spatula spread the frosting across the layer, being careful not to let the frosting pull up and spread crumbs into the frosting. A smooth, side to side motion works well. Add more frosting if necessary. Try to smooth out to a flat even layer.

Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.

Stacking the layers: Carefully lift the layer and use the cake board to help leverage it so it is centered, and gently place it on the frosting layer. 

Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.

Repeat steps to fill and stack the remaining layers.

Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.
Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.
Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.

Crumb coat: Using the offset spatula, add frosting a little at a time, smoothing side to side. Don't smooth the spatula to the edges of the frosting though, this will pull up crumbs. The key is to cover and smooth, but not to let any crumbs get pulled into the frosting. Some is okay, just try to keep it to a minimum. I think this step is easier explained in the video above.

Move around the cake, coating in a generous amount of frosting. Then go around and smooth with the spatula. This will also remove a lot of the excess frosting. Fill in any gaps you find as you go, and removing areas of excess. Continue until you get a roughly smooth, level, even coat of frosting. Refrigerate the cake to harden the frosting. 

Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.
Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.

And there you have it! That is how you stack, layer, and crumb coat a cake.

I hope my video and photos help explain things clearly, and I hope you try some of these tips the next time you make a cake!

Did you like this tutorial? Let me know any suggestions you have for future tutorials or videos!

Step-by-Step photos and video of stacking and crumb coating a layer cake.