Kitchen 101: Ten Tips for Next Level Layer Cakes

February 6, 2015

So you want to make an impressive cake? Panic about cake baking, making and decorating is enough to plunder even a pastry pro. Beautiful, delicious cakes are about so much more than just smoothly slathered buttercream; they’re about knowing little tips and tricks for making the production prettier, tastier, easier, and more spectacular. As Bon Appetit senior food editor Dawn K. Perry says, “you can’t just put sprinkles on it and call it fun.” Here are my 10 best tips for next level layer cakes:

1.  Be Good to Your Batter: pros don’t “mix” batter, they fold. Fold your batter right from the beginning. This little video will help.

2.  Part Easily with Your Cake Pan: for easy cake removal, line your pans with parchment. Here’s a little tutorial on how to cut a parchment circle to fit your pan.

 3. Stay Cool: turn cakes out of their pans and pop them in the freezer to speed up the cooling process, and make icing a breeze. Frozen cake layers are also easier to cut. 

4. Stretch Your Layers: A 6-layer cake is so much more impressive than a 3-layer cake…. Slice frozen cakes in half again to create more layers for your cake. More layers are always more impressive (and deliver more frosting…)

5. Pin It Down: when you’re ready to decorate, dab a bit of frosting in the center of your cake stand to prevent the cake from moving. 

6. Keep it Clean: scoot parchment around and under the cake to prevent getting any frosting flung onto the cake plate

7. Mind the Measure: if you’re going for a layer cake, measure out equal amounts of frosting for each layer before you begin to make sure that all the layers are even. 

8. Soak it In: pro bakers know that the best way to keep a cake moist is to use a simple syrup or jam between the layers. This also packs a flavor punch and melds together all the flavors of the cake. You’re not actually going to “soak” the cake; instead, make a simple syrup, or add a small amount of water, bourbon, or lemon juice to preserves, or honey. Then poke little holes in the layers of your cake and drizzle (or paint with a culinary brush) over each layer before you frost. 

9. Show Some Skin: don’t feel like you need to frost the sides of the cake, especially a layer cake. It’s extra effort and hassle, and sometimes its just too much frosting.  Let those lovely layers peek through as in this tomboy cake

10. Cover Your Sweet A**: imperfect frosting job? Don’t sweat it. Pastry professionals “mask” or cover tiny mistakes with decoration all the time. Use chopped nuts, toasted coconut, poppy or sesame seeds to cover the frosting; it’s a surefire way to one-up your next cake masterpiece. 

I’m preparing a special new cake for a special occasion this week – recipe to follow this weekend! In the meantime, happy baking and cake making! – xo L

-feature image credit: popsugar.com

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