Ina Garten Shares How to Ice a Cake without Getting Crumbs in the Frosting (and It’s Pretty Ingenious)

ina garten cake frosting tips: ina garten in a black shirt and scarf preparing ingredients at a cutting board
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Have you ever wanted to ask Ina Garten how to roast a chicken, make a killer cosmo or grow your own herbs? (For us, the answer is yes, yes and yes.) Plenty of her Instagram followers sent in questions for her new “Ask Ina” series, where she offers tips and hacks for conquering common kitchen conundrums. In her latest video, she answered one Q every baker has wondered: How do you ice a cake without getting crumbs in the frosting?

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The Barefoot Contessa prepared her famous Beatty’s chocolate cake to show how she tackles this issue.

“If you have a cake plate, you don’t wanna get the icing on the plate,” she says in the video. “So, what I do is I take pieces of parchment or wax paper and put it down on the plate…then put the first layer of the cake right on top, so when the cake is iced you just have to take the pieces of wax paper out and you have a beautiful cake and a clean plate.”

Now comes the frosting. “Put a little icing right on top, and I use an offset spatula to spread it out. And the key about not getting crumbs in the icing is you always go in one direction; you don’t go back and forth, I think we’re really tempted to do that. If you push the icing from the top, you’ll never get crumbs in it.” The more you know.

She then offers a bonus tip that some home bakers may have never considered. “And the second layer…do you want a rounded top or a flat top? Flat top tends to be a little more professional looking.” She then turns the second layer of cake over so the bottom faces up, resulting in a flat top.

ina garten cake frosting tips: ina garten on stage smiling with a microphone in her hand
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She then continues to frost the cake. “I start on the sides and again, I always go in one direction…We’re making a mess here, but the good news is I have parchment paper on the plate, so if I make a mess nobody will ever know.”

On that note, icing is your friend when it comes to covering up flaws in your dessert. “Icing is very forgiving; you can always fill in holes, if the cake cracks you can cover the cracks. And you know what? It doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s gonna be just as delicious,” Garten adds.

Finally, she frosts the top of the cake. “We just wanna push it out from the middle; don’t go back and forth, just in one direction, and you’ll never get crumbs in the icing. Go all the way around and make sure the edge is sharp.”

Because she has no shortage of clever tips, the Queen of Chambray offers yet another hack. “If you wanna make it really professional…you heat up the [spatula] in hot water and then take the water off…if you just go around and apply it, it’ll end up with a smoother, shinier edge.”

As for removing the paper, Garten runs a knife around the bottom of the cake and pulls out the parchment without removing the icing along with it. To cut the cake, she uses a warm knife and slices from the middle out with the blade for a razor-sharp edge and easy removal.

“One more tip,” she wrote in the caption. “Make the cake in advance, refrigerate it and the icing will be easier to spread.” Good looking out, Ina.

taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...