How to ice cake?

Back in my college days, a final exam-addled dorm mate conducted a poll just before the holidays. The choices were “love fruitcake” and “hate fruitcake.” Responses on both sides of the issue were staggeringly vehement, and if I remember correctly, far more than half of those polled seemed unequivocally opposed, although I can’t promise there wasn’t a little ballot stuffing.

We could take the same poll with marzipan. But with this almond-paste confection, in addition to “love it” and “hate it,” we’d have to add the third category of “never heard of it.” For the uninitiated: If you’ve ever seen a candy dish filled with tiny fruits that look like they’re made out of Play-Doh, or wondered about an ultra-thin, ultra-smooth layer of icing on a wedding cake, odds are, you’ve been in the presence of marzipan.

During the holiday season, marzipan pops up in a number of guises. Chocolates are filled with it. Pink marzipan pigs are said to bring good luck at New Year’s. Yule logs are garnished with tiny marzipan berries and leaves. I’ve even seen sweet creche scenes with solemn little marzipan wise men lined up at the manger. Store-bought marzipan fruits make a festive stocking stuffer or hostess gift, and kids love to hand-sculpt marzipan figures as a special gift or holiday centerpiece.

In the German method for making almond paste, blanched, skinned almonds and granulated sugar are ground through marble rollers, cooked, stirred, cooled, and then a sugar syrup is added. The French start with ground almonds, to which they add a cooked sugar syrup. To this point, the product in both methods is still called almond paste. Confectioners’ sugar is added — as is egg white in some recipes — and it is ground further to make it officially marzipan. Depending on the final product’s intended use (filling, rolling or modeling), the amount of confectioners’ sugar is adjusted to create a dough of the proper stiffness. For the product to be genuine marzipan, the sugar content cannot exceed 68 percent.

Disputed beginnings

While Americans are still growing accustomed to marzipan, Europeans have loved the stuff for centuries. The latter have created sundry conflicting stories of its origins.

One German tale of 1407, as told by Albert Kirchmayr of Kirchmayr Chocolatier, locates it in famine-wracked Lubeck. Hungry townspeople feared locally stationed troops would gobble up what little food remained. In desperation, the magistrate authorized a search of ships and ships’ warehouses. A forgotten larder housed an extravagant stash of almonds and honey; and an enterprising baker promised he could fashion a suitable baked good to feed the masses. True to his word, the troops were fed, the war was won, and everyone had fond memories of the almond delight.

Fast forward to 1806 in Lubeck, when entrepreneur Hans Niederegger, capitalizing on the locals’ collective fondness for almond sweets, began churning out almond rolls. To this day, Lubeck is the marzipan capital of Germany, and the Niederegger name remains, by Albert Kirchmayr’s account, “the Hershey of marzipan.”

Not to be outdone, the French claim marzipan for their own. The Ursuline order of nuns at Issoudun is said to have perfected the recipe during the chaos of the French Revolution. The novelist Balzac then popularized the sweet in Paris, opening a confectionery shop that specialized in the “massepains,” or marzipan candy, he had raved about in his book, “La Rabouilleuse.”

We could go on: Another story has its beginnings in Sicily, and still another pegs marzipan as a longtime product of the Middle East, dating back to the Saracen people during the Crusades. Whatever its true provenance may be, marzipan today is made expertly all over Europe and by specialized bakers in this country. The home cook can even make it with relative ease with just a little practice.

Roll your own

Both Albert Kirchmayr and another local sweet virtuoso, Joseph Poupon of Patisserie Poupon, wax enthusiastic about the high-quality, store-bought almond paste and marzipan. Both men relate stories from the culinary dark ages, when the making of almond paste was laborious and inexact. Painstaking efforts with marble rollers or even a mortar and pestle yielded a finished product that might crystallize inappropriately, be too stiff, or fall apart. So, you may want to begin working with store-bought almond paste or marzipan.

Odense makes both in 7-ounce logs, available in the grocery section of many local grocery stores, such as Fresh Fields and Sutton Place Gourmet. For the holidays, Sutton Place also carries big blocks of almond paste that can be cut to the desired weight. Both products will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator if well wrapped. Buy almond paste if you wish to add flavorings or use it as an ingredient in a pastry; buy marzipan if you wish to model with it.

The purist may want to disregard the experts’ warnings, and try his hand at making almond paste from scratch. Here’s how: Grind 8 ounces of blanched, skinned almonds in a food processor. To that, with the motor running, slowly add 1 pound of sugar cooked to the “soft crack” stage (270 to 290 degrees Fahrenheit). Scoop out the resulting dough and spread it thinly on a baking sheet to speed cooling. To this, you may add more sugar syrup or egg white to make it more pliable, or confectioners’ sugar to make it stiffer.

Whether you make marzipan or buy it, it’s fun to get the whole family involved in modeling marzipan shapes. Make sure all hands and surfaces are clean and dry, and go to work. Marble and stainless steel are the easiest surfaces to work on.

For fruit shapes, begin by dividing the dough into equal small portions. You may want to set out real fruit to use as models. Roll a piece of dough in the hands to create a sphere (in the case of bananas, make a snake), then start modeling the dough with your fingers or with a small paring knife. Use the back of the knife to create the indent on the side of peaches; use a toothpick to texture the surface of strawberries; roll lemons and oranges on a cheese grater to texture the skin.

New Year’s pigs can be fashioned the same way, creating little balls for the head, feet and even suckling piglets. Marzipan roses are a classic cake decoration, achieved by flattening out numerous petals and attaching them at the base.

Coloring can be achieved in two ways: You can simply knead in food coloring to the dough before modeling, or you can hand-tint the surface of the dried, finished shapes with a paintbrush.

Here are a few other tips for working with marzipan:

* Don’t use aluminum mixing bowls to blend almond paste or marzipan — they will discolor the dough.

* When working the dough, keep the unused portion in a bowl covered with a damp cloth.

For years, I found it difficult to cover a cake with marzipan. What was especially difficult was one, creating a perfectly round shape after rolling the marzipan out, and two, getting the marzipan to fit the cake on all sides. However, the more I practiced, the more I got the hang of it, and eventually found a way that worked best for me. I’m sure this will be the same for you. Today decorating my cakes with Marzipan is something I love to do. Marzipan is so incredibly delicious, as it is made with almonds. I find that it complements a vanilla cake that is filled with fresh fruit, whipped cream, and vanilla cream; like my “Norwegian Cream Cake”

Watch the video below how to cover a cake with marzipan.


  • powdered sugar
  • Crumb coated cake
  • Large Rolling pin
  • White marzipan, you can find the recipe here.
  • fondant smoother
  • sharp knife
  • Your beautiful hands
  1. Dust a clean surface with powdered sugar, remove the marzipan from the bag
  2. Dust your working table with powdered sugar.
  3. press the marzipan into a round flat disk. If you start with a round disc shape is will be easier to maintain the round circle at the end.
  4. Dust the top of the marzipan and a large rolling pin with some powdered sugar.
  5. Using the rolling pin, roll the marzipan from the center out.
  6. After each roll lift the marzipan and rotate approximately 45 degrees.
  7. Roll only once after each rotation.
  8. Making sure to roll from the center out to maintain a circle shape. Dust your work area periodically with powdered sugar so the marzipan does not stick.
  9. Roll the marzipan until it reaches the thickness of approximately ¼ inch (3 mm).
  10. Use a fondant smoother to smooth the surface, if you happen to have any air bubbles, you can remove them by using a pin to pop any trapped air.
  11. Place your cake on a silicon mold.
  12. Carefully lift the marzipan and unroll it on top of the cake, make sure there is enough marzipan to cover each side, if not quickly remove and do it again.
  13. Use your beautiful hands or a fondant smoother to smooth the top of the cake, do this quickly, or the rest of the marzipan could break off.
  14. Use your fingertips and the palm of your hands to flatten the marzipan around the cake, pulling the marzipan on the sides at times to make sure that are no bubbles, quickly and gradually work your way down to the bottom.
  15. Use a single-edge blade razor or a sharp knife to trim the excess marzipan all around the cake making sure to cut close to the sides of the cakes.
  16. Use your beautiful hands or a fondant smoother to smooth the entire cake.
  17. Your cake is now ready to be decorated into your own unique masterpiece.

Facebook CommentsLaura Beth Drilling/Demand Media

Marzipan, made from almond paste and sugar, forms a sweet, pliable dough. Delicious and incredibly versatile, marzipan can be colored and flavored, baked into cakes and cookies, molded into candies or frostings, or sculpted into any kind of decorative figure you can imagine. If your marzipan has not been stored properly, it may harden, but you can get it back to a soft, workable consistency with a few methods.

Adding Liquids to Soften Marzipan

Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media

Knead the marzipan vigorously on a hard work surface.

Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media

Add a few drops of water or vanilla or almond extract if it’s still not soft enough. Marzipan already contains vanilla and almond, so this should not greatly alter the taste.

Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media

Knead the marzipan again, and add more of the liquid, if needed, until it’s workable.

Steam Marzipan to Soften It

Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media

Place your marzipan in the top of a double boiler

Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media

Add water to the bottom of the double boiler and bring the water to boiling.

Laura Beth Drilling/Demand Media

Let the water boil for 3 to 5 minutes or until it becomes pliable enough to knead. If you don’t have a double boiler, wrap your marzipan in aluminum foil and heat it in a steamer or a colander over a pot of boiling water.


To microwave the marzipan to soften it, place it on a microwave-safe plate and heat it for approximately 60 seconds. Remove it from the microwave and knead it well. If you have time to spare, put the marzipan in an airtight container with a few slices of fresh orange. Do not allow the orange slices to touch the marzipan. Let it sit in a cool spot for 1 to 2 days. Keep your marzipan fresh by storing it in airtight container kept in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and strong odors. Do not refrigerate or freeze marzipan.

Cake Decorating Timeline – When should I decorate my cake?

The most common questions that get asked when one has to decorate a cake are: when should I decorate my cake? How far in advance can you make a cake? When to ice a cake? Today I discuss the cake decorating timeline that I use to make sure I have a fresh cake, as well as enough time to decorate it.

Cake Decorating Timeline – How far in advance can I make my cake.

Making dessert cakes is a lot different than making custom decorated fondant cakes. I can decide in the morning that I want to serve a delicious chocolate cake for dinner today and that would be perfectly fine. I’d have to work hard, a little fast but in general, I can produce a very impressive chocolate dessert cake in a very short time.

But I can’t do the same with my custom decorated fondant cakes. Why not? If you are a new cake decorator, then you will find that you are suddenly confused about baking your cakes. This was what you were most confident about and now suddenly you are surprised that it does not work the same way.

So, you ask, how far in advance should I bake my cake? How far in advance should I decorate my cake? When should I crumb coat my cake? When should I cover my cake with fondant and when must my cake be ready for delivery?

On the other hand, most customers think their cakes are baked a day before the event. Right? Often they will make sure to tell you that they want their cake fresh. But in reality, the cakes are baked a few days ahead. Why is that?

Well, cake decorating is time-consuming!! So if we baked it at the last minute there is no way we will manage to do all the decorating work we do on that cake. Will we? Hence, it’s important to know when to bake your cake and when to start decorating it and plan your schedule accordingly.

A professionally decorated cake takes time

Technically, you can make a cake in less than 3 hours. Unfortunately, decorating the cake in such haste is very stressful and the outcome will not be very professional.

For example – I always decorate my cakes at least 6 hours after it has been baked. I believe it needs some resting time. After I crumb coat and cover it in buttercream, I give my cakes another couple of hours to rest (even 4 hours). This helps all the gasses inside the cake settle. Then when I put fondant I don’t have to deal with bumps or bulges. Also, I dowel my cakes at least 4 hours before delivery so that I have enough time just in case something goes wrong at the last minute.

Cake Decorating Timeline – How far in advance can I bake my cake.

If you look at the cakes above in the collage, you will see that they are all similar (not the same) in size. Most of them are single-tier cakes. But each one requires a different timeline.

The bottom three buttercream cakes (see above image)

  • The simple ruffles cake (tutorial) took me two hours from start to finish – because buttercream cakes don’t necessarily need a lot of settling time.
  • The second princess cake is also a buttercream cake but the bottom tier does need a bit of resting time, and you need more work with stacking as well as piping. So while it is a buttercream cake it still needs more caution compared to the first ruffles cake.
  • The third floral cake (tutorial) looks very simple but is actually easier than the second. Why ? because the buttercream flowers can be made ahead of time. So you can make this cake from start to finish or in small parts.

The top fondant cakes (see above image)

  • The first is a simple small marbled fondant cake with a sugar flower that was made ahead of time. Because this cake is so small you can actually do a lot of it from start to finish without much resting time, unlike our tiered wedding cakes.
  • The minion cake (tutorial)- is simple but has a lot of work on details that can be done ahead or on the cake. This is a type of cake where often cake decorators tend to underprice themselves. Mostly because they do not calculate the amount of time that goes into creating these details. Read more about Pricing your cakes as well as underpricing your cakes.
  • The last handbag with shoes is actually a very easy cake. The shoe has to be done in advance because there is no way you can make a Gumpaste Stiletto Shoe at the last minute

Those are very simple cakes. While the wedding cakes below take extra effort to plan and execute. As you can see each and every tier has a very different timeline – depending on how much can be done ahead of time as compared to how much work is involved in the cake at decorating the stage. In this post, I don’t discuss these cakes in detail. And yet, if you look at Decorated Cakes – click on a cake and you will find useful information that I share regarding the process of making the cake.

Cake Decorating Timeline – How far in advance can I make my cake.

Planning ahead – when should I decorate my cake? (Save/Pin)

Cake decorating can be divided into what you can do before you bake your cake, and what you need to do after the cake is baked. There are a lot of things you need to do before you actually bake the cake in an effort to save time later. For example:

  • You can prepare your cake boards ahead of time. And this does not necessarily mean just wrapping them in decorating paper. I mean you can cover your cake board with fondant or add the extra elements that go on the board.
  • Decorations and cake toppers – Sugar flowers and figures can be made as early as two weeks ahead of time. Standard size cake boards and cake dummies work great to help with this. Use a dummy as a base for your figures until they are dry. Use a cake dummy to decide how many flowers you need. Or use a cake dummy to get the shape you need for your cake toppers.
  • Check on your supplies to make the cake – if your cake order has lace make sure you have the lace mold. Do you need to order? How long will it take to arrive? Perhaps you need to get back to the client with any change of plans.
  • Buy the necessary ingredients – sounds basic but when you make cakes often or not so often – your inventory can sometimes cause issues. Make sure you have the color or brand of your fondant.
  • Download any templates or information you need – Always do this in advance just so you do not lose what you searched for when you planned the cake.

Cake Decorating Timeline – When Should I decorate my cakes

Cakes are tastier when made from scratch

Did you know that if you bake from scratch the cake becomes tastier in the next few days? Because it matures into something more delicious. Now I can’t prove that, but mom used to say it, so; it must be true. Right?
I always bake from scratch. Whether you are a cake decorator or a novice, I bet you will find my collection of Layer Cake Recipes, coffee cake recipes, bundt cakes, sheet cakes useful.

Caramel Apple Cake Recipe with Caramel Buttercream and Caramel S Pumpkin Cream Cake 12 Chocolate Mud Cake Recipe, Chocolate Mud Recipe, Chocolate Chiffon Cake with Kahlua Buttercream

Cake Decorating Timeline – when should I decorate my cake? (Save/Pin for later)

Often I get asked how far in advance can I make my cake? Over time, I have realized that the following schedule works best for me. Now there is no right or wrong here; with time you may develop your own schedule. For now, I’m happy to share with you my timeline so you can get started.

To better understand this timeline, let’s say that you need the cake to be ready for Saturday night.

Day I – Wednesday Night

  • Make Filling, Frosting including Fondant if I’m using a homemade fondant recipe.
  • Bake the cake. Cool completely. Wrap well in cling wrap and store in the fridge.
  • Prepare your cake boards. Dress the cake board – if using Fondant or Royal Icing on the whole board.

Day 2 – Thursday Morning

  • Bring cake, filling, and frosting to room temperature.

Day 2 – Thursday Afternoon

  • Level, Tort, fill and crumb coat the cake.
  • Let set in the fridge for 15 minutes, then cling wrap and let sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours. This helps settle the cake.

Day 2 – Thursday Night

  • For Buttercream cakes (how to get sharp edges on buttercream cakes)
    • Apply second and third coat giving enough time to chill between coats
    • Back to the fridge to rest.
  • For Fondant/ Sugar paste cakes (how to get sharp edges on ganache cakes)
    • Take cake out of the fridge – let rest for a few minutes
    • Novelty cake gets carved and shaped at this point.
    • Cover with Fondant (Tips for working with Fondant)
    • Leave at room temperature or fridge if using perishable fillings

Day 3 – Friday – The Fun Part

  • Complete design and decorating details including doweling the cake and setting up the tiers.
  • Decorating the cake board.
  • Adding the additional details like sugar flowers and setting up the figures.
  • All decorations are completed by night and the cake is left to rest overnight or (at least 4 hours just in case)

Day 4 – Saturday

  • Check cake for any last minute hi-cups like bulges or burps.
  • Photograph and pack the cake for delivery.

That’s my typical schedule. The exceptions to the rule would be if I have a novelty cake or a wedding cake that requires more decorating time. In that case, I would start a day early.

Share a picture of your work with me by uploading an image here below my image on this board. You can also find a collection of my tutorials and recipes here on Pinterest.

Cake Decorating Timeline – How far in advance can I make my cake?

A few tips from me

Organization – How far in advance can I make my cake?

As a cake decorator who does almost everything from scratch at home, as well as take care of two kids and manage the home, it is very important that I organize and plan my work correctly. For example; I prefer to bake twice a week, mainly Sunday and Wednesday. I dedicate one day to making my fillings and frostings including buttercream
One day to making my fondant if I’m using my homemade fondant recipe. That way I am not overwhelmed with too much to do for one cake.

For the Working Mom – When should I decorate my cake?

I know some of you are working mom who is not cake decorators but wants to make a celebration cake for the family or birthday cake for your kids.

  • You can bake your cake ahead of time, prepare your buttercream as well as your fondant and freeze these.
  • Two days before you want to start decorating, thaw it in the fridge first then on the counter.
  • It’s best to work with semi-frozen of chilled cakes. The torte and carve better too!
  • Once you finish decorating you can keep it on the countertop in a cool place or in the fridge.

10 Tips to prevent your cakes from drying out.

I often get novice bakers who push decorating their cake cose to the event as possible. The truth is you don’t have to. If you bake from scratch as I have explained above you can prepare your cakes a few days ahead and still have a delicious cake everyone will rave about.
As for your cake drying out? well, take the following precautions and your cakes will never dry out.

  1. Do not over-bake the cake – keep an eye close to the baking time.
  2. After baking, cool the cake completely, then wrap the cake well in plastic and chill the cake in the fridge so it won’t dry out
  3. Brush the cake with simple syrup just before you layer it.
  4. Use a soft consistency icing between layers (not too stiff) if you live in high humidity make a damn around the edges and put soft consistency icing in between
  5. Wrap the cake in plastic and chill the cake after you stack the layers and crumb coat – this will prevent drying
  6. After crumb coat do not chill the cake for more than 30 minutes
  7. Frost the cake and chill between coats if necessary -once you have frosting on top and around the cake will not dry out.
  8. If you have buttercream frosting on the cake – wrap with cling wrap once the buttercream gets firm – this will prevent the buttercream drying out as well as prevent it from absorbing any other odor or smell of other foods in the fridge. wrapping the cake in cling wrap is not possible, place the cake in a cardboard box – this helps too.
  9. Thaw the cake for at least 2 hours before you serve. A soft room temperature cake is tastier than a hard stiff chilled cake.
  10. Once cut – cover the cut side of the cake with plastic to prevent the leftover of the cake from drying

This Cake decorating timeline was today’s Tip Thursday – in answer to your question When Should I decorate my cakes?
Save this Tip Thursday for later. You can find a collection of my recipes, tips, tutorials here on Pinterest

Timeline for decorating a Cake – When should I start decorating my cake.

Are you are new cake decorating professional?

You may like to see more

  • Cake Business Related Post Cake Pricing – A Beginner Guide (How much should I charge for my Cakes?),
  • I bet most of you are Under Pricing your Cakes
  • Where to find Inspiration for cakes,
  • How to find your Cake Decorating Style?
  • How to start a cake business from home,
  • Cake Decorating as a Profession or Hobby?
  • How to start a cake website

Vanilla Bean Cake Recipe aka Perfect Vanilla Cake Recipe Vanilla Cafe Latte Cake with Coffee Buttercream Frosting Spiced Chai Latte Cake with Vanilla Bean Buttercream Recipe Devil’s Food Chocolate Cake Recipe7

  • Paw Petrol Cake with Chase Cake Toppers – Video
  • Spring Buttercream Basket of Flowers – Video
  • Floral Buttercream with Russian Piping Tips – Video
  • Fondant Tree Stump Tutorial Pink Baby Shower Cake- Video
  • How to make a Pumpkin Cake – Video
  • How to make a Fire Truck Cake – Video
  • Gum Paste Princess Crown and Cake – Video
  • Buttercream Ruffles Cake – Short video
  • Fondant Cheese and Mice Cake
  • How to make a Doughnut Cake – Video
  • Ice Cream Sundae Cake
  • Paris Fashion Theme Cake
  • Giant Cupcake

30 Plus Layer Cake Recipes How do I adapt a cake recipe for the pan I have is often a dilemma. Which is the reason I had the calculated recipe PDFs already calculated for you? Now you don’t need me to calculate them because this recipe card does that for you. Here are 30 plus layer cake recipes for cake decorating whether you use it with buttercream, ganache or fondant. 30 Plus Homemade Buttercream Frosting Recipes Need a buttercream recipe in 5 minutes? Have a buttercream related question? Wondering what buttercream to use for your cake? It’s all here in one place. 30 plus homemade buttercream frosting recipes for you to explore. With recipes, tips, trick, and troubleshooting, as well as popular questions, answered. Cake Decorating Recipes for Every Cake Decorator Here is a collection of cake decorating recipes that every cake decorator needs to have in her collection. Whether you are looking for simple cake recipes, calculated cake recipes, homemade fondant recipes from scratch, homemade frosting, or in-trend products such as homemade edible sugar lace, sugar fabric, or homemade bean paste for sugar flowers.

How to Stack and Frost a Layer Cake

Follow These Steps

  1. Put a dab of frosting on the cake stand
    Dab a couple tablespoons of frosting on the stand before putting down the first cake layer. This will prevent the cake from sliding.
    Tip: 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.
  2. 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.
    Tip: Cool your cake layers upside down to help flatten them out, which will make your final cake much prettier and easier to assemble.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
    Tip: Be generous when you start to frost. You can always scrape some off if you end up with too much, but if you start with too little, you risk pulling crumbs from the cake into the frosting.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.