How to ganache a cake: a beginner’s guide


We’ve got your decorating basics covered with a video tutorial, chocolate ganache recipes and comprehensive guide on how to cover a cake with chocolate ganache!

Are you looking to create the perfect ganache covered cake for an upcoming sophisticated birthday celebration? Maybe a major anniversary milestone? Whatever the occasion, CD&S have the perfect guide for you!

Check out our handy video tutorial detailing precisely how to cover a cake with chocolate ganache and achieve the perfect, straight-edged finish.

How to ganache a cake

Once you know how to put ganache on a cake, you'll need to know how to make ganache for a cake, won't you? Read on for the perfect chocolate ganache recipe, along with the smoothest, silkiest white chocolate ganache recipe. Are your mouths watering yet? 

We know you've probably still got loads of questions on how to ganache a cake, so we teamed up with The Cake Professionals for their expert advice on how to make ganache for a cake and how to cover a cake with ganache. We follow their advice with answers to any and all of the ganche-related questions you could possible have, including how to ganache a cake with white icing and practical advice on how long you leave ganache before putting it on a cake. 

Ready? Let's dive in....

How to ganache a cake

Video tutorial: how to pour ganache over a cake

How to create the perfect chocolate ganache

The perfect white chocolate ganache recipe

The best chocolate ganache: ask the experts

How do you put ganache on a cake?

Can you freeze ganache?

How long do you leave ganache before putting on a cake?

How to fix split ganache?

What is the difference between ganache and buttercream?

What else can I use ganache for?

Tutorial: how to pour ganache over a cake


How to create the perfect chocolate ganache

For a 6-inch round cake

Melted chocolate for ganache

You will need

  • 500ml double cream
  • 250g good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 250g milk chocolate, finely chopped

Method

  1. Bring the cream just to the boil in a saucepan.
  2. Remove from the heat and add all chopped chocolate once the cream has stopped bubbling.
  3. Gently shake the saucepan to cover the chocolate with the cream and allow to sit for a few minutes. If there are any stubborn bits of chocolate that won’t melt, you can place the saucepan back onto a VERY low heat and constantly stir until all lumps are gone.
  4. Gently stir until all the chocolate has melted and combined with the cream, leaving a smooth and shiny finish.
  5. Decant into a glass bowl and leave to cool. Once cool, cover with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight to set.

Did you know? If you can’t wait for the ganache to set overnight, you can speed up the setting process by putting the ganache in the fridge. You will need to keep a close eye on it though, giving it plenty of stirs to ensure it cools and sets evenly and smoothly.

The perfect white chocolate ganache recipe

For a 6-inch round cake

White chocolate ganache recipe

You will need

  • 160ml double cream
  • 500g white chocolate, finely chopped

Ratios advice: double cream and good quality chocolate in a ratio of three parts white chocolate to one part cream makes the dream ganache, no matter how much or little you make (as recommended by The Cake Professionals).

Method

  1. Pour the cream into a saucepan and gently bring to the boil.
  2. While the cream heats, place the chopped white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and microwave for around a minute to soften it. Keep a close eye on the chocolate in the microwave and stir it if it is softening unevenly.
  3. Once the cream has reached a gentle boiling point, remove it from the heat and pour over your softened white chocolate, making sure the chocolate is fully covered.
  4. Allow the cream and chocolate to sit for five minutes.
  5. Use a whisk to gently and carefully combine the chocolate and cream, making sure you don't whip it.
  6. Pour the combined mixture into a shallow dish or tin and leave it to set, covered with cling film to prevent a 'skin' forming on the top.
  7. When you want to ganache your cake, simply give the set ganache a stir and apply. 

Did you know? Gently whisking the cream and chocolate together rather than whipping it stops any air getting into the mixture, which can upset the delicate texture of your ganache. 

The best chocolate ganache: ask the experts

The Cake Professionals spill the (cocoa) beans

How to ganache a cake the cake professionals

If you're running a cake decorating business, no matter how big or small, we know there's a lot to handle, from bookings and events to methods and more! We've teamed up with the dynamic duo behind The Cake Professionals to get you the best advice on how to ganache a cake. They want to see cake businesses (and their owners!) flourishing all across the UK. Whether it's a full-time job for you or sweet side gig, the whole point is to see your cake business, big or small, really flying.

How do you put ganache on a cake?

How to ganache a cake

Speak to pretty much any cake maker and they all share a mutual love/hate relationship with ganache. They LOVE the firm base it gives for decorating cakes… but HATE the mess and the worst bit is making it. We had plenty of ganache related tears and tantrums as we wrestled with how to make lots of it quickly, reliably and cleanly. We got there eventually and discovered three golden rules for perfect ganache every time…

How to ganache a cake: rule one

How to ganache a cake rule 1

Control the temperature. Chocolate is a sensitive soul and does not like to be shocked. It particularly does not like being overheated. Here's how you can help your ganache keeps its cool:

  1. Invest in a thermometer with an alarm: they don’t cost a fortune and enable you to set an alarm to let you know when things are just the right temperature.
  2. Boil and cool your cream: the first step in making ganache is to bring the cream to a gentle boil and then leave it to cool to 40 degrees C.
  3. Gently melt your chocolate: while the cream is cooling, melt your chocolate in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. The water MUST NOT touch the bottom of the bowl, just steam. Stir the chocolate occasionally to make sure it's all melted. Once the chocolate is smooth you can turn off the heat to the pan. Once the cream reaches 40 degrees, move on to the next rule.

You now have cream and chocolate that is roughly the same temperature. That means that when you put them together, they are more likely to do a happy dance together and combine well.

How to ganache a cake: rule two

How to ganache a cake rule 2

Treat your ganache gently. The trick now is to bring your cream and chocolate together. The secret here is to do it gently. Don’t just throw them together and stir vigorously. That way lies lumpy chunky ganache and a very sad baker. Here's how to avoid that problem:

  1. Pour your cream into a bowl big enough to hold all the cream and chocolate combined.
  2. Pour a third of the melted chocolate into the cream.
  3. With a spatula, stir it in using a folding motion.
  4. Be patient and keep doing this until it starts to come together
  5. If the ganache seems a bit grainy, use a hand blender to combine it.
  6. Pour in the next third and repeat the process.
  7. Pour in the final third and repeat the process.

Hopefully you now have a silky-smooth ganache!

How to ganache a cake: rule three 

How to ganache a cake rule 3

Let it mature. This final step is the easy bit. Just let the ganache mature at room temperature for a day. Inside the ganache, all kind of magic is happening to ensure you get a lovely smooth ganache. Here's how you can help:

  1. Line a shallow tin or tray with cling film which should come up the sides of the tin. There should also be enough cling film hanging over the end to fold back over the tin.
  2. Pour in enough ganache to fill the tin to 1cm and cover it with the rest of the cling film.
  3. Leave for 24 hours at room temp.

Can you freeze ganache?

In short, yes! If you are making ganache in advance and need to store it for some time, you can keep it comfortably at room temperature for a couple of days. It will last around a month in the fridge and a little longer in the freezer. A great idea is to spend a day making loads of ganache and then you have it stored and ready to go.

This is just a guide to storage times and can depend on the ingredients used, so use your own discretion as well when storing ganache. Here's what to do to make your frozen ganache ready for use:

  1. Simply break up the frozen ganache into chunks and put it in a microwaveable bowl.
  2. Remember rule one... you don’t want to make ganache soup!
  3. Melt the ganache in 15 second bursts. After each burst give the ganache a stir.
  4. Soften it just enough that you can use a hand blender on it and then blitz it smooth.
  5. You are now good to go!

Making ganache is more of a science than an art. Think of it as a particularly tasty form of chemistry! Follow the rules exactly and you will get great results (like this!) every time.

How to ganache a cake finished

Top tip: If you do freeze the ganache, you can simply lift it out the night before you need it and it will be ready to go in the morning.

Special thanks to The Cake Professionals for their expert advice, be sure to check them out!

Any other questions?

How long do you leave ganache before putting on a cake?

How to ganache a cake drip cake

Good question! It depends what you're planning to use it for.

  • For general covering: you want it to be spreadable but not too liquid, so aim for a peanut butter-like consistency. This generally needs at least 12 hours but, as the Cake Professionals recommend, 24 hours is best. 
  • For cake drips: you'll want to pour your ganache on cake almost immediately if you're wanting to create a drip cake (so on trend, we can't get enough of them!). 

Psst, if you love to keep up with trends in cake decoration, you won't want to miss our tutorial on how to make a sprinkle fault line cake

How to fix split ganache?How to fix split ganache

Be vigilant for broken or split ganache. This happens when the cream and chocolate don’t combine smoothly (this process is called emulsification). How do you know if ganache has split? It won’t have a beautiful shiny finish and instead will look dull and be grainy. You might also be able to see the fat in the chocolate separating from the solids. But have no fear, all is not lost!

  1. Your first move to rectify the split is to use a handheld blender and gently blend the ganache mixture until it becomes smooth. Once it is smooth, stop immediately or you can incorporate too much air and you don’t want a bubbly ganache!
  2. Don’t worry if this doesn’t work – there are more options! Add a splash more cream and mix, which should help bring the ganache back to together. Do bear in mind that by adding more cream, your ganache won’t set as firmly as you would like. This is especially important to remember on a hot day!
  3. A final way you can try and fix a split ganache is to put it in the fridge and stir every ten minutes (ish… don’t panic if you can’t do every 10 minutes on the dot!) and see if this helps the ganache to emulsify correctly.

If all else fails, you can try again and put it down to experience… you could grumpily eat the split ganache out of spite and to show it that it hasn’t defeated you, although we don’t recommend how that will taste!

What is the difference between ganache and buttercream?

What is the difference between ganache and buttercream?

Without sounding snarky, there are massive differences between ganache and buttercream:

  1. Ingredients: Buttercream is a smooth mixture of butter and icing sugar (sometimes with added cream). Ganache, as you've just learned, is chocolate and cream.
  2. Uses: Buttercream is best used to sandwich cake layers together and provide a base coat around the whole cake. Ganache is more decorative and easier to make look neat and tidy. However, buttercream can also be highly decorative, so don't write it off until you've seen the amazing things you can create with buttercream!

That's a very short round-up of the differences. Why not check out our article on buttercream and have your mind blown? 

What else can I use ganache for?

If you’re looking for more uses for your ganache, perhaps you have some leftover that you don’t want to sit in front of the telly with and devour from the wooden spoon like an animal that solely survives on melted chocolate and cream and hasn’t had a taste of that sweet, sweet deliciousness in weeks… what we’re trying to say is, there are many more uses for ganache than just for smooth full cake coverage!

Chocolate ganache cupcakes

how to cover a cake with ganache

Ganache makes a delicious and ever so elegant decoration for cupcakes. Make any shape you desire using your favourite pipe head and create delectable cupcakes that no one can resist!

Rough chocolate ganache

How to ganache a cake: Ganache covered brownie

While we’ve only been talking about using ganache for a really smooth and elegant finish, you can also use it very roughly to create a gorgeous messy topping for a really naughty brownie (we mean naughty as in lots of chocolate, nothing else… tut tut!). Serve as is or top with some fruit or a sprig of greenery to fancy it up a bit.

Chocolate ganache truffles

How to ganache a cake: Ganache covered chocolates

Because of the versatile way ganache sets, both hard and soft at the same time, it’s perfect to use if you’re a chocolatier! Cover truffles or hardened chocolates with a layer of ganache, keeping it as messy or tidy as you like to create a stunning professional finish for you homemade choccy delights!


Knowing how to ganache a cake is a tricky skill but, once mastered, it's perfect for a plethora of occasions and bakes, appealing to the most clean and simple of decorating styles to the most extravagant. This guide is here forever to help show you how to cover a cake with ganache and the recipes for how to make ganache for a cake will never let you down.

Now you know how to cover a cake with ganache, why not check out our delectable collection of chocolate recipes to adorn with your perfect chocolate ganache?

Or, if you’re looking to cover your ganache up, then we’ve got another super helpful video guide on how to cover a cake with sugarpaste (or fondant, we cater for a global audience after all!). If you prefer something a little softer, you won't want to miss our guide on how to make white buttercream