How to Ice a Cake – Ombre Cake

by Pamela

How to Ice a Cake - Ombre Cake

The ombre cake still seems to be riding a bit of a high after all these years (all, like 3 of them). But why shouldn’t it? Whether you make the ombre cake as a colorful cake or the ombre is in the icing, it still makes for a really pretty cake. The other great thing about an ombre cake is that it’s so easy to make. Sure, it may look like it took forever to get those colors just right…but it really doesn’t. I’ve got a quick post to show you how to ice a cake in the ombre style so you too can impress your friends and loved ones.

This tutorial starts out as a really basic how to ice a cakeany cake.

How to ice an ombre cake

Bake your layers and even them up so that you’ve got a flat surface to work with. If your layers are lumpy or uneven, your cake may slide apart. (Definitelyย  not impressive…especially to the person it falls on.) Tear off 4 strips of wax paper and lay them under your cake (so that they stick out over your cake board). This leaves you a nice clean cake board when you’re done frosting because you pull the papers out.

Once you’re layers are even, you’ll want to spread a good layer of frosting on the bottom layer then lay your next cake layer on top of the frosting. Make sure you put the flattest side of the cake facing up (this may actually be the bottom of the cake). I only did two layers for this cake because they were thick layers that I made in my 6″ pans.

How to ice an ombre cake

This is the important part of how to ice a cake…the crumb coat. I know, some people go all crazy and just go with a thick layer of frosting at this point but it’s so much easier on yourself to do a crumb coat of frosting. All this means is that you coat the outside of the cake with a thin layer of frosting (you can see cake through it in some spots) so that any wayward crumbs from the cakes surface get caught in this layer of frosting and not your final layer of frosting. Trust me, picking out flecks of cake from your finished masterpiece is no fun.

After you’ve let the crumb coat dry for a few hours (I usually let it dry overnight), it’s time to start making your ombre cake.

How to ice an ombre cake

I start at the top of the cake with my lightest color (in this case, white frosting). This is the time to frost the cake the way you like it (lots of frosting or minimal frosting). Cover the top and go down the sides a bit. I wanted this layer to be smooth, so I did my best to smooth out the top at this point.

How to ice an ombre cake

Next add food coloring to the frosting. Just a little…don’t go crazy, because you’re going from lightest to darkest. (If you want to go dark to light, you’ll need to separate out your bowls of frosting before adding the color to them.) Stir up the frosting and make sure it’s the color you like. Then begin to frost a line of it just below, but slightly overlapping your top row of frosting. If you want your lines to be less “organic” then you can measure and mark exactly where to put your frosting. I prefer the more organic look.

How to ice an ombre cake

Add more color to your frosting to get the next darkest color and frost like before. You can keep doing this for as many colors as you like. I just used three colors of blue for my cake.

How to ice an ombre cake

Once all your ombre colors are on your cake you’ve got a couple of options. (For all of these I recommend using an offset spatula – it will make your life a lot easier). You now need to figure out what texture you want for your cake. You can leave it as is, you can make lines going around the cake with your spatula or you could make it smooth. Smoothing out the frosting will blend all of the colors together where their lines match up (that’s what I did on this cake). To smooth the cake and blend the colors just place your offset spatula perpendicular to the side of the cake and gently run it along the side to smooth it out. Do this in small sections and scrape off your spatula after each section.

Now you should have smooth and blended ombre cake.

How to ice an ombre cake

Since the ombre cake is a bit of a showstopper all its own, I go easy on the decorations. I kept up with the nautical blue theme and went with shells.

Easy Icing Recipe
Prep time
Total time
This easy icing recipe makes icing a cake a breeze. It's soft, smooth and creamy so it's easier to get that smooth finished cake you're looking for.
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1
  • 1 Pound Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Cup Shortening
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  1. Add all ingredients to the bowl of your mixer and beat until smooth and creamy.
I don't recommend this icing for making decorations as it's so soft. You should mix up another batch with only ¾ cup of shortening for decorating icing. And you can always add some cream of tartar to firm up a too soft icing.

So don’t be afraid of the ombre cake. You can definitely do this!

Welcome to My Man's Belly! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the site or if there's a recipe you'd like to see here. Have a great day.


Maureen | Orgasmic Chef May 8, 2015 at 3:19 am

Someone gave me a box of those chocolate swirly shells and it’s just sitting there unopened. I think my mother-in-law would like this for Mother’s Day lunch. Yours is really pretty.

Pamela May 8, 2015 at 6:49 am

Thanks Maureen, This would be a great cake for Mother’s Day and you could decorate it with the swirly shell chocolates.

Sippitysup May 7, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Frosted cakes are not usually my thing but this one is so minimal and sophisticated it has me rethinking the whole genre. GREG

Pamela May 7, 2015 at 5:07 pm

Greg, this cake is right up your alley. It would be perfect for one of your parties.

Brooks May 6, 2015 at 9:35 pm

A great tutorial here, Pamela, and a lovely cake too! The minimal decorations let’s the ombre shine.

Pamela May 7, 2015 at 9:14 am

Thanks Brooks! You just made my day. ๐Ÿ˜›

April @ Girl Gone Gourmet May 6, 2015 at 8:42 pm

I’m pretty bad at frosting cakes (no patience), but I need to make one for a special occasion coming up so I’m going to give this a try — love the ombre look and your tips/instructions are great ๐Ÿ™‚

Pamela May 7, 2015 at 9:14 am

This cake will be perfect for you then April. No patience really required because it doesn’t require perfect lines. ๐Ÿ™‚

georgie May 6, 2015 at 10:26 am

WOW! Just wow! Super lovely cake!

Pamela May 6, 2015 at 10:50 am

Thanks Georgie!

John@Kitchen Riffs May 6, 2015 at 10:22 am

Really useful tutorial! I’m one of those too impatient to apply a crumb coat. I know better, but I still resist. Gotta start, I know. Anyway, really good stuff — thanks.

Pamela May 6, 2015 at 10:51 am

tsk tsk tsk John ๐Ÿ˜‰

That crumb coat makes such a difference. I finally have just sucked it up and do it. Thankfully, I’ve discovered it can be put on pretty quickly because it doesn’t have to be neat.

Crista May 5, 2015 at 9:23 pm

it’s so pretty – and easier than i thought it’d be! thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

Pamela May 6, 2015 at 8:50 am

Thanks Crista,
Yes, it really is pretty simple to do. Can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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