Buttercream Stencilling Basics

Gather your supplies!

You will need:

  • Flexible head silicone spatula (I use the Jamie Oliver brand, it comes in a pack of three)
  • Medium consistency, room temperature buttercream (all types of buttercream)

    The consistency is similar to room temperature,  smooth peanut butter spread. Make sure your buttercream isn’t too soft though, or the buttercream will smudge underneath the stencil.

    Stencilling is all about achieving the right consistency buttercream. Before stencilling onto your cake, mix the buttercream by hand to knock out any air bubbles that may have formed. This ensures a nice smooth final look.
  • A cake scraper

    I prefer the Caking It Up acrylic cake scraper. The bevelled edge is particularly helpful in removing excess buttercream from the stencil, giving the perfect finish. 
  • An iced buttercream cake

    Your cake needs to be very cold/firm to the touch before attempting to stencil onto it. When buttercream is applied to a very cold cake, it immediately starts to set the stencilling in place, giving a clean crisp look once stencilled. Ideally, your cake should be chilled in the freezer 25 minutes prior to stencilling. It’s best to have all of your supplies ready to go before taking your cake out of the freezer.


You’re ready to stencil!

  • Gently hold the stencil to the cake. If you’re stencilling a round cake, be mindful how long you’re holding/pressing the stencil with your hand/fingers to the cake. Your warmed hands will melt the buttercream underneath. Try using the very tips of your fingers or you can wear heatproof cotton gloves. 
  • If you’re worried the stencil may move, you can use a pin either side of the stencil to secure it to the cake, just make sure the stencil is firmly pressed up against the cake before pinning. I suggest poking the pins through the stencil first, so you don’t ruin your buttercream finish trying to make a hole in the stencil when it’s placed against the cake. Once you’ve stencilled, remove the pins and store them well clear of the cake. 
  • Work quickly so your cake remains cold.
  • Don’t put too much buttercream on the spatula at once, just add small amounts at the tip of a flexible head spatula when necessary.
  • You only need a thin coating of buttercream. Applying too much risks smudging the stencilling.
  • Once enough buttercream has been applied to the stencil, it acts as a glue, helping to hold it in place as you continue to apply buttercream to the areas you’d like stencilled.
  • Once you’re happy with the coverage, using a cake scraper, gently scrape off the excess buttercream. This just gives an even finish.
  • Don’t press/push the cake scraper into the cake or you’ll smoosh your beautiful stencilling under the stencil. Just a few gentle swipes is all that is needed. 
  • Let the stencil pull away naturally at first, if this doesn’t happen, from the top corner gently and slowly pull away the stencil in one direction. 
  • If there are a few rough edges, where the stencilling has gone above the top lip of your cake, place the cake in the fridge, set up the buttercream again, then attempt to remove/clean them up. If you try to fix any slight imperfections when the buttercream is warm, you may risk smudging the stencilling. 
  • If you’re wanting to stencil an entire round cake, after a full panel of stencilling is completed, place the cake in the freezer for 5 minutes to set up the stencilling before adding your next panel of stencilling. 

Produced by Casey from Cake by Casey Lee