How to Ganache a Cake



Introduction: How to Ganache a Cake

About: Hi, I'm Jen! In my free time I'm a crafter, food lover, and cake decorator. I have a genuine love and appreciation for all things creative and handmade.

Applying ganache is by far the most important part of making a successful cake. It will provide a sturdy and shapely foundation. If you are applying fondant to finish a cake these next few steps are especially important.

This technique is a breakout lesson from my Cake Decorating 101 collection. If you are interested in learning more about cake decorating please take a look!

If you need to know how to make ganache check out my Easy Chocolate Ganache Recipe!

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Step 1: Prepare Cake & Crumb Coat

Applying a crumb coat is exactly what it sounds like! It traps in all the cake crumbs to make the final application of ganache perfectly smooth.

You will need:

  • prepared chocolate ganache (consistency of whipped cream)
  • off-set spatula
  • serrated knife (steak knife will work well)
  • prepared cake


1. Check your ganache to make sure it is the consistency of whipped cream. It should not fall off an off-set spatula when held upside down, but should be soft like whipped cream. If it still seems too soft or runny let it sit a while longer. If it has gotten too hard to easily spread over the cake you will need to pop it in the microwave for 3-5 seconds on high (it melts very fast). Remove it from the microwave and stir it well. Repeat if necessary.

2. Using a serrated knife trim all sides of the cake off. About 1/4 of an inch around the entire cake. Use a gentle up and down motion and take your time. Buttercream will inevitably stick to your knife. Wipe it clean and continue.

3. Clean up any crumbs that have dropped around the base of the cake.

4. Apply a thin layer of ganache to the sides and tops to secure all of the cake crumbs.

5. Smooth out ganache one last time making sure no areas are beyond the 6-inch cake base. Place cake in the refrigerator for approximately 5-10 minutes to allow ganache to set.

Step 2: Make a Guide

While the cake is in the refrigerator we can prep the guide for the final layer of ganache.

You will need:

  • 6-inch round cake board
  • 8x8 inch piece of parchment paper
  • chocolate ganache
  • off-set spatula
  • bench scraper (if you don't have a bench scraper a clean plastic ruler will work nicely)


1. Trace around a cake board onto a piece of parchment paper and cut the circle out with scissors about 1/4 inch smaller than the traced line.

2. Apply a small amount of ganache to the right side of the cake board (this will be the white side if using cardboard boards) and center the parchment circle on the cake board. Press to flatten and secure.

3. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and apply a very thin layer of ganache to the top of the cake only. Place the cake board, parchment side down, on the top of the cake doing your best to center it. If you hold the bench scraper with it touching the top and bottom cake boards you will see a gap. We will fill in this gap with ganache in the next step!

Step 3: Final Ganache Layer

This is my favorite part of preparing a cake for decorating! It's enjoyable to get the ganache perfectly smooth!

You will need:

  • bench scraper
  • crumb coated and cooled cake
  • off-set spatula
  • prepared ganache


1. Gently hold down the top guide with your left hand (if you are right handed) and apply a generous layer of ganache in an upward motion to secure the cake board on the top. Keep adding until you have coated the entire cake. It will look lumpy and uneven. This is what you want!

2. Hold your bench scraper flat against the top and bottom cake boards and scrape away the excess ganache. Move all around the cake wiping the excess back into the bowl.

3. On your first pass around you may notice some low spots or holes. Fill them in with more ganache and scrape again until everything is even. Repeat as many times as necessary.

4. Place the cake in the refrigerator for approximately 15-20 minutes or until you can touch the ganache without making any fingerprints.

Step 4: Smooth and Level the Top

Now that the sides of the cake are firm and set the cake board needs to be removed and the top needs to be smoothed and leveled.

You will need:

  • paring knife
  • off-set spatula


1. Using a sharp knife cut a seam between the ganache and the cake board. Press the knife in about half way (taking care not to gouge into the cake) and gently lift until the cake board breaks away.

2. The parchment may or may not stick on the cake. If it does just lift an edge with a knife and peel it back and off the cake.

3. The top of the cake will look rough and a chunk of cake may even pull off with removal of the parchment. Using your offset spatula spread a fair amount of ganache on the top of the cake filling in any holes.

4. Smooth and level the top by spinning the turntable while holding the spatula level with the cake. The ganache will spread over the edges creating a lip. Use your bench scraper again and very precisely go around the entire cake again. Remember that the guide is now gone so you could accidentally gouge the cake!

5. The lip of ganache should now be sticking straight up. Using your offset spatula drag it from the lip to the center of the cake. Repeat all around the cake. Congratulations! You have a perfectly ganached cake!

Place leftover ganache in the refrigerator, uncovered. We will use it later in the class to make dark chocolate truffles!

You have completed a fully ganached cake! Pat yourself on the back! We will use this cake to complete Lesson 7: Decorated Drip Cake.

You will also need to complete another fully ganached cake for Lesson 9: Decorated Party Cake by repeating lessons 2-5. It should be a breeze since you have done it once before. I encourage you to try out new flavors for your next cake!

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