Cakes, Informational Articles

How to Do a Crumb Coat

Making a good crumb layer, or crumb coat is one of the most crucial steps in decorating a cake. For professional results, check this out!
A complete crumb coat.

Hi Bold Bakers!

I am often asked how to do a crumb coat and, more importantly, why someone would need to take that extra step! I’ll be the first to admit that cake baking and cake decorating are two very different animals. Baking, frosting, and decorating a beautiful cake involves a whole set of skills that are completely different than any other baking techniques.

Decorating a cake takes practice, technique, and confidence! (I can’t stress that last tip enough). That said, there are tricks of the trade that even pros swear by. One of my go-to tricks for decorating both rustic and professional-looking cakes is to always start with a Crumb Coat (aka crumb layer).

What is a Crumb Coat?

When you frost a cake with just one thick layer of frosting, tiny stray crumbs usually get caught in the frosting and spoil the finish. A crumb layer prevents that from happening by picking up any loose bits of cake and evening out the surface. Technically, it is the first coat of frosting. This crumb layer will allow you to build up to the smooth finish you see in all of your favorite bakeries.

How to Do a Crumb Coat

Wait until your cake is cold before applying it. It’s actually better to work on a cake that is a day old, as it is much easier to decorate and is still fresh! 

  1. Spread a thin layer of frosting between the layers and all over the cake. There’s no need to worry too much about what the cake looks like at this point. This is really just a base layer, a good foundation for your finish.
  2. Once the whole cake has been covered in its crumb coat, allow it to chill, in the fridge, for at least one hour. Then you are ready to really get creative and add your finishing layer on top, covering all the loose crumbs, nooks, and crannies.
  3. Check out my great frosting tips on How to Use Piping Nozzles (Bold Baking Basics). You will see the difference a crumb layer makes, your friends and family will be amazed, and you will have a much easier time achieving your desired look!

What a cake looks like after applying a crumb coat following the directions on How to Do A Crumb Coat

Tips and Tricks on How to Do a Crumb Coat

  • Best to use day-old cakes as they are easier to frost
  • A cake that has been refrigerated also is easier to work with
  • Less is more: you don’t need a huge amount of frosting to apply the crumb layer. Remember this is just the first coat
  • Use a large palette knife which will make it easier to decorate in one fell swoop
  • Catch as many crumbs as you can in the crumb coat
  • Don’t worry about how it looks after the crumb coat is finished
  • Chill the crumb coat for a minimum of 1 hour but up to 24 hours

Want some easy cake decorating tips for bakers of all levels? Check out 4 Easy Ways to Decorate a Cake and How to use Piping Nozzles.

And, don’t forget to follow Bigger Bolder Baking on Pinterest!

Submit your own photos of this recipe

0 Images
most useful
newest oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 months ago

Hi Gemma,
How long can I keep the crump coated layer cake in the fridge? Can I keep it for a week?
How should I keep my fully decorated cake for a week in the fridge? Is it possible?

Aliya akthar
Aliya akthar
7 months ago

Hello gemma.. Yu have mentioned it’s good to decorate cake which is a day old. So how do I store the cake. In the fridge or just let it sit out until the next day

9 months ago

I want to do a monster cake with piped monster hair out of buttercream do I do a crumb coating first ?

10 months ago

Hi, I like to make more cakes but sometimes Haven’t got time to cook them is it possible to make any cake mixture one day leave it in fridge and cook it the next day ?

11 months ago

Hi Gemma,
Everytime I am crumb coating the cake, mosey of the little crumbs get locked in, but sometimes, if the cake is very soft, suddenly as I am.doing the Crumb coat, a large chunk of the icing gets detachef from the cake, onto my spatula, along with a little cake, leaving behind a little crater in the Crumb coated cake. Any suggestions?

11 months ago

Hi Gemma, I am baking for one and I haven’t found a good portion buttercream frosting recipe for mug cakes. You recommend we eat mug cakes immediately but can I use still these techniques on a mug cake? It would be good to practice but also if you had a mug cake size buttercream frosting recipe, that would be great too.

1 year ago

yes!!! now i won’t ruin my cake cause it is gonna be my first decorated cake and cause i read this. thank u so much!!!!

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for my FREE weekly emails and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!