How to Make a Layer Cake Like a Pro
An impressive layer cake is the hallmark of an accomplished baker. But really, with the right guidance, anyone can create a stunning layered cake. Whether you're a first-timer or a seasoned baker, Chef Eddy's enhanced tips will elevate your cake-making skills.
Ingredient Quality and Temperature: Always use high-quality ingredients for the best flavor and texture. Ensure ingredients like butter and eggs are at room temperature for better mixing.
Essential Preparation: Baking is a science. Use a kitchen scale for precise measurements, especially for ingredients like flour and sugar. Sift your dry ingredients to aerate your mixture, leading to lighter cakes.
Equipment Checklist: In addition to a spatula and parchment paper, ensure you have even-sized baking pans and an oven thermometer for consistent results. A good serrated knife or cake leveler is crucial for cutting even layers. Don't forget a piping bag and tip for those final, decorative touches.
Layering Technique: A layer cake follows a simple pattern: cake - filling - cake - filling. Apply fillings and frostings in thin, even layers. Too much can cause the layers to slide, while too little can make the cake dry. When assembling, spread a thin, even layer of frosting—aim for 1/6 to 1/4-inch thickness. Remember to give a thin crumb coat to lock in crumbs and then chill the cake briefly before applying the final layer of frosting.
Frosting Tips: Frosting is a baker's choice - whether you want a naked cake, a cake completely covered in frosting, or a drip cake where the icing oozes down the sides. No matter what type you use, choose a frosting that is firm enough to hold the layers together. Buttercream, chocolate ganache, sour cream frosting and cream cheese frosting are popular choices. Use a bench scraper or icing spatula for smooth application. Rotate the cake on a turntable to smooth the outsides of the cake. If you’re going for a rustic look, drizzle frosting just on the top; for a classic finish, cover the entire cake. Check out our Differences Between Frosting, Filling, Glaze and Icing article for more in-depth information.
Decorating Like a Pro: Simple decorations can enhance the appearance significantly. Try piping techniques or add garnishes like fresh fruit, chocolate shavings, or edible flowers. Dixie Crystals's Frosting Tips video on You Tube has lots of simple and easy ideas for how to decorate your cake. With crumbly cakes, it’s possible for the inner layers to flake off into your frosting. If you want a cake with a crumb-free frosting, it’s necessary to first give the cake a crumb coat. Spread a thin coat of frosting in your layers. Place the crumb-coated cake in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes until the crumb coat is solid, then frost it a second time.
Common Layer Cake Mistakes and Fixes
- Avoid a domed cake by spreading frosting evenly. If your cake does dome, trim it after it's completely cooled.
- Never frost a warm cake. Cool it thoroughly to ensure the frosting stays firm.
- If your cake layers crumble, apply a crumb coat, then chill for 20-30 minutes before adding the final frosting layer.
Advanced Planning and Storage: Layer cakes are a multi-step process. Bake your layers ahead and freeze them for time management. Wrap them well to maintain moisture. Then, on the day of serving, remove the cake layers from the freezer and frost them while they’re still frozen.
Recipe Inspiration: Now that you're armed with these professional tips, it's time to bake! Experiment with flavors and textures. Classic chocolate, zesty lemon, or adventurous caramel-pecan - the possibilities are endless.
Here are some of our favorite layered cakes to try.
Chef Eddy’s Hummingbird Cake Go beyond banana with your Hummingbird Cake. In this recipe, Chef Eddy has perfectly balanced pineapple, banana, vanilla and lemon for an extraordinary cake. Your sweet auntie would be proud!
This gorgeous Very Blueberry Cake is a showstopper! A blueberry lover's dream, this layered cake explodes with fresh fruit flavor. Chef Eddy starts with a light and fluffy vanilla cake baked with blueberries inside and frosted with a blueberry buttercream. Then the cake is topped with a homemade blueberry sauce that will drip down inside the cake when it is sliced, making for an even more impressive presentation.
Chef Eddy's Dulce De Leche Cake celebrates the lovely, nutty, mellow flavor of ducle de leche. A moist and tender brown sugar cake is baked into three layers. Next, a thick coating of smooth and creamy dulce de leche buttercream frosting is spread in between the layers and all around the cake. Then this decadent tower of flavor is garnished with almond slices and dollops of dulce de leche buttercream.
Chef Eddy's Lemon Poppy Seed Layer Cake is bursting with zippy lemon tartness and encased in a tangy cream cheese frosting. While we've shown the cake fully frosted, it could be minimally frosted in a "naked cake" style. Either way, top it with fresh blackberries, blueberries, candy, or edible flowers for an elegant presentation.
Banana Pudding Layer Cake takes all your favorite flavors from a traditional banana pudding and transforms them into a three-layer delight. Chef Eddy starts with a moist and tender yellow cake that's layered with homemade banana cream filling, sliced fresh bananas, and vanilla wafers. To complete the cake, a light, and dreamy whipped cream covers the entire surface.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Drip Cake is overflowing with deliciously moist chocolate layers are topped with a peanut butter buttercream layer and topped with chocolate ganache. It's a feast for the palate as well as for the eyes!
With a few professional tips and a slew of recipes, there’s no layer cake you can’t try. Remember, baking is an art that improves with practice. Enjoy the process, learn from your experiences, and soon, you'll be making cakes that are not just delicious, but visually stunning too.