Icing a cake isn't difficult, but it does require patience. Remember that after you take the cake out of the oven, it is very delicate and will fall apart if you try to work with it. Let the cake cool completely, and you'll be able to slice it into layers and cover it with icing without stray crumbs marring the surface.
Removing from the Pan
Most cake recipes direct you to let the cake cool anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes in the pan. This gives the cake time to firm up without becoming soggy. Run a metal spatula or butter knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Then put a plate or cardboard cake circle over the pan and invert the pan so the cake falls out onto the plate or cake circle.
Cooling on a Rack
Let the cake cool on a rack until it is no longer warm to the touch. Keep in mind that icing is fat-based. Any residual heat can melt it and cause it to get runny. This can take a few hours, depending on the temperature of the room and the size of the cake.
Chill the Cake
When the cake is cool, wrap it in two layers of plastic wrap and chill it in the freezer for eight hours or overnight. This will make the cake very firm and easy to frost. If you don't have time to freeze the cake overnight, chill it for at least an hour or for as long as you can.
Remove the cake from the freezer 20 to 30 minutes before you are ready to frost. When it is partially thawed, use a serrated knife to even the top and sides of the cake and to slice it into layers. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush away any stray crumbs. Use an offset spatula to frost the cake with a thin layer of icing. This preventd crumbs from showing through the final layer of icing. Return the cake to the refrigerator or freezer for10 to 20 minutes until the icing is set. When you remove the cake, it's ready for the final layer of icing and decoration. By the time you're finished decorating, it should be completely thawed and ready to serve.
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