How to Assemble and Frost a Layer Cake

We share our tips and tricks for stacking and frosting a beautiful, professional-looking cake every time.

If you've ever wondered how to stack and frost a cake without ending up with a lopsided, gloopy mess, these steps will guide you. With these tips and tricks, you'll have a gorgeously smooth cake that looks professionally baked.

What You Need

  • Cake layers
  • Cake stand
  • Parchment paper
  • Frosting
  • Offset spatula

If you don't have a cake stand, turn a large, wide-bottomed mixing bowl upside down and place a plate on top of it. Frosting is easier when the cake is elevated and closer to eye level.


Put a dab of frosting on the cake stand: Dab a couple of tablespoons of frosting on the stand before putting down the first cake layer. This will prevent the cake from sliding.

Place the first cake layer on the stand: Put the cake layer on top of the frosting right-side up so that the flat bottom sits on the stand.


Cool your cake layers upside down to help flatten them out, which will make your final cake much prettier and easier to assemble.

Put a few strips of parchment paper under your cake: Tuck overlapping pieces of parchment paper under the edge of the cake; this will help keep your stand clean as you frost.

Start with 1 to 1½ cups of frosting: Using an offset spatula, put a big dollop of frosting—about 1 to 1½ cups—on top of the bottom layer.

Spread the frosting just beyond the edge of your cake: Using the spatula, start in the middle of the cake and spread the frosting evenly over the top and just past the edge of the top surface. The overhang of frosting will help you frost the sides of the cake.

Place the second layer top-side down: Place the second cake layer on top and press gently to make sure it sticks. Take a step back and check that it is level and centered.

Use 1 to 1½ cups of frosting for the second layer: Put a big dollop of frosting on the center of the cake and, using the offset spatula, spread it to the edges. If you get crumbs in the frosting, simply scrape the dirty frosting off your spatula into a separate bowl.

Frost the sides in sections: Think of the cake in quarters and tackle one quarter at a time, turning the cake stand as you go. Aim to get the cake covered with frosting first.

Smooth out the frosting or create any look you like: Once the cake is frosted, you can go back and beautify. Smooth out the frosting or create swirls or other textures. Remove any excess frosting. Gently pull away the strips of parchment paper to reveal your beautifully frosted cake.

Be generous when you start to frost. You can always scrape off the extra if you end up with too much, but if you start with too little, you risk pulling crumbs from the cake into the frosting.

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