It’s your child’s birthday and while you could go buy a cake from the grocery store, you would like to do something a little more special because this is a big birthday. This is their big 16.
You could make a simple sheet cake but you like the idea of a layer cake instead. Layers can be a little bit harder to work with but they’re not impossible if you know what you’re doing. You just have to take a few extra precautions.
To help you make the perfect cake for your kid’s big day, here is a complete guide on creating the ultimate layer cake!
1. Prepping the Cake Pans
Like with any cake, you need to make sure you prep your pans so it doesn’t stick. Since you’ll be taking the entire cakes out of the pans so you can build the layers, you’ll need to take extra measures. Use parchment paper with a mixture of butter and flour.
Use Parchment Paper
Nothing sticks to parchment paper so putting this in the pan is the one surefire way to make sure the cake comes out of the pans in one piece. You can go about this in two ways.
The first way is to set your pan on a sheet of parchment paper and cut around it. The second method is to cut out extra work by buying round parchment paper sheets.
Grease them with Butter and Flour
Even though nothing sticks to parchment paper if you really want the cakes to slip out of the pans with no issue, you’ll need to create an extra barrier. You can do this by greasing the pan with butter and then sprinkling a little bit of flour into it.
If you want a cheaper option than this, you can also spray the parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Bake Even Layers
If you don’t bake even layers your cake will be doomed to lean or fall over after you frost it. Not only will this not look great but it can also get pretty messy when you start cutting into it. The best ways to make sure all your layers are even with a flat top are to measure the batter and reduce the temperature when you start baking.
Measure Your Batter
The easiest way to make sure that your cake layers are the same size is to measure the batter as you pour it. If you feel like you’ll be baking a lot of layer cakes, go ahead and invest in a digital kitchen scale.
Reduce the Temperature
There are a variety of kitchen tools that you can use to make sure your cake comes out with a flat top. For the sake of simplicity though, reduce the oven temperature and increase the baking time.
Doing this will slow the oven spring and stop your cake from coming out with a dome top.
3. Storing the Layers
You won’t be able to build and frost your cake layers as soon as they come out of the oven mainly because a warm cake is impossible to work with. You’ll have to store them in your refrigerator or in the freezer for a little while first.
In the Fridge
If you’re going to be building your cake within a few hours or even days, you can store the cake in your fridge in the meantime. Wrap the layers up individually in plastic wrap and pop them in until you’re ready to use them.
In the Freezer
If your work schedule has forced you to make the cake layers more than a few days in advance, you’ll have to store them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them. As long as you wrap them in plastic you should be able to keep them in there for up to a month.
When you are ready to use them, take them out of the freezer and let them sit on the counter side by side until they are room temperature. Make sure you keep them in the wrapping until you start building the cake.
4. Assemble Your Cake
Setting the cake on a cardboard cake round and using a turntable isn’t required but it does make things a lot easier. If the cake is built on the cardboard you’ll be able to transport it from place to place a lot more seamlessly and frosting it on a turntable will cut your work time in half.
Put your first layer top-side down on whatever surface you decide to work on. Just be sure that it’s a smooth surface.
Next, you’ll top this layer with one cup of your frosting. Keep this process going until your cake has been completely built.
5. Frost the Cake
Once your cake has been built, it’s time to frost it. You’ll be giving your cake both a crumb coat and a final one.
The crumb coat is probably the most important part of frosting your cake. If you’re not familiar with what it is, it’s a thin layer of frosting that is used to hold all the crumbs in place. Without this layer, your final product will look incredibly sloppy.
Start from the top of your cake and apply the coat. If your frosting is considerably thick you’ll need to thin it first. Put some of the frosting in a bowl and splash in a few tablespoons of milk.
Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes and then put it on the cake.
Finish the cake up with a thicker layer of frosting. Same rules apply here with the application process. Start at the top and work your way down.
There is only one slight difference and that is that you want to use long easy strokes to ensure that the frosting is smoothly set. Again, the simplest way of doing this is by using a turntable to rotate the cake as you put the frosting on.
Once the cake is looking good enough to eat, put it in the fridge for half an hour so the frosting can set.
6. Common Mistakes
That’s the basic step by step process to creating a layer cake. Now we’re going to go over some of the largest mistakes that you can possibly make so you can avoid them.
Even if you do all you can to ensure that you have the best, most even layers, sometimes they still come out of the oven with a dome top. Don’t shrug it off and attempt to build the cake anyway.
You will waste a bunch of cake if you do because it will end up lopsided and it could possibly fall over. Trim the cake until all the layers are even and then frost it.
Trimming Warm Cake
Speaking of trimming, while it’s perfectly acceptable to do this, you don’t want to do it while the cake is still warm. Always chill the layers and then trim them. If you don’t the cake will tear and crack.
Frosting Warm Cake
Not only do you not want to trim the cake when it’s warm but you also don’t want to frost it. While you probably don’t like thinking about this, the main ingredient that frosting is composed of is fat.
When you spread fatty substance on a warm cake it won’t be able to hold its form. This means that it will start to soften or melt and cause a huge mess.
Not Sealing Thin Fillings
Say your loved one really loves fruit so you decide to use jam as your filling rather than frosting. This is fine but jam isn’t exactly solid so if you don’t seal it in it will start to leak out of the sides.
To seal in some of these thinner fillings, do a layer of frosting around the outer edge of the cake. This will create a dam so your filling will stay where it’s supposed to.
Your Guide to Making the Perfect Layer Cake
Making the perfect layer cake isn’t difficult but it is very easy to ruin. If you don’t make them just right they will topple over or come out a crumbled mess. Use these tips to make sure your cake ends up in stomachs and not on the floor.
Trying to create your dream cake but you have a million questions on how to do so? Contact me and we’ll walk through it together!