cake1 If you bake a little (but not a lot) like me, making a layered cake may seem a daunting task. But, that’s only until you’ve done it once. About a year ago my dear friend asked me to make her wedding cake. Prior to that, I had never made even a double layered cake. The layers seemed tricky and like trouble. But, faced with making three layer cakes and then stacking them on top of each other (and then transporting them across the state), I figured out how to make one pretty quick. Since then, I’m happy to whip up your standard double-layered birthday cake whenever a party is in need. And that’s exactly what I did recently for my lovely friend Sara’s birthday party. I thought it would be fun to document the process and write up a few cake-stacking tips.

The Right Tools for the Right Job

  1. I find having a cake board (or some sturdy surface) on which to stack, decorate, transport, and serve your cake is important. Moving it minimally is important.
  2. Be sure you have room in your fridge and freezer to place cooling cakes and bowls of frosting.
  3. An offset spatula will really make decorating your cake a lot easier.
  4. You don’t need piping bags and tips, but even one tip and a Ziplock bag can take your cake to another level.
  5. At least two springform cake pans of the same size is really helpful (I like 8″ pans, the resulting two layered cake can easily feed 12 people but up to 20 if you do thin slices).

cake4The Little Cake That Could

Be sure the cake recipes you choose is for a sturdier cake (not something to crumbly or delicate). My go-to is my own variation on this classic chocolate cake . Just like in the recipe, I make two 8″ rounds in spring form cake pans.

Be sure to grease and flour (or cocoa, as the recipe above indicates) your pans! It’ll make your life so much easier.

cake3Stay Cool Icing, Stay Cool

Be sure to cool your cake completely and then stick in the freezer for a little while before decorating for good measure.

While it’s in the freezer, make your icing and then stick it in the fridge to get cool as well (not the freezer). But, be sure not to put in in for too long, you want it firm, but spreadable.

When your cake is ready, trim any rounded surfaces or bumpy edges, place the bottom layer on your cake board, spread your filling or some icing on top (but leave about two inches at the edge clean so it doesn’t seep out) and then place the top layer squarely on top (the icing or filling will act like glue – I like to combine fresh fruit compote and some of my icing for a tasty and useful filling).

Stir your cold frosting well and then, using your offset spatula, spread that delicious stuff all over your cake. I like to do one thin (messy) layer, and then refrigerate it for about 10 minutes to firm it up. Then do a top, neater, layer with some intention.

Some very simple decorations can make your cake look really lovely. I like to drag the spatula up the sides to give a super easy, shabby chic, look. Then I swirl the top and generally put on shaved chocolate or fresh fruit or some other lovely decoration to hide the imperfections. Finally, I put my final bit of frosting in a plastic baggie with a cheap plastic piping tip stuffed into the corner and pipe an edge around the bottom of the cake to help it look party-ready!