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How to make a layer cake
What Is A Layer Cake
A layer cake is any cake that is made up of more than one layer. There are 2 layer, 3 layer, 4 layer and even 7 layer layer cakes!
The layers are most often made from the same recipe but sometimes a baker will use different types of cake for the different layers. For example, one type of layer cake has a layer of yellow cake, a layer of buttercream, a layer of crispy meringue, a layer of buttercream, and then a layer of yellow cake.
Generally a layer cake will be a circular cake made in eight or nine inch pans, but some are made in square or other fancy shaped pans.
Tips for a Great layer Cake - Every Time
The keys to a good layer cake are a good recipe and careful measurement of ingredients. Here are some other things to do:
- Be sure to have ingredients at room temperature
- Use cake flour not all purpose flour
- Don't over-mix
- Use standard measuring cups and spoons
- Preheat oven to exact temperature
- Don't overcrowd pans in the oven
Kitchen Aid to the Rescue!
Steps To Making A Good Layer Cake
- Preheat the oven
- Grease pans and sprinkle with flour. Shake pan so the flour coats the pan completely, bottom and sides.
- Stir the flour and lightly spoon it into the measuring cup. Level off the top gently with a knife.
- Follow recipe exactly.
- Measure half the batter into each prepared pan and level top. Batter should only be about halfway up the sides of the pan.
- Bake until done.
- Let cool in pans for ten minutes, run a knife around edge to loosen the cake, and then turn out on counter to finish cooling.
- When the cake is cool, if you have time, freeze it for easier frosting.
- Slice off the rounded part on the tops of the layers to even them out.
- Place the first layer, cut side down, on the cake plate.
- Put about 3/4 cup of the frosting in the center of the cake and spread to the edges.
- Place the next layer on top, cut side down.
- Frost top and sides of cake with a thin layer of frosting. Freeze for about 30 minutes.
- Finish the cake by smoothing the rest of the frosting over it. Smooth sides and top.
- Decorate if desired.
How To Make a Chocolate Cake
Basic Yellow Cake Recipe
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 8 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup half & half
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract if desired
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 inch pans. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition, then stir in the vanilla and almond. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the cream. Do not over-mix. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly tapped. Cool 15 minutes before turning out onto cooling racks.
Basic Frosting Recipes
Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting
1/2 cup butter
4 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
1 pound confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup cream
Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler. In a large bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, vanilla and 1/2 cup of the cream. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture. Add remaining cream, a little at a time, until desired consistency is achieved. Let stand until spreadable . Frosting will thicken as it cools.
Basic Cream Cheese Almond Frosting
8 oz cream cheese room temp
4 tbs butter
3 c confectioners sugar
1 tsp almond
1/2 tsp vanilla
Beat butter and cream cheese together until mixed. Add rest of ingredients and beat until fluffy. Add a little cream if needed to get the right consistency.
Common Causes of Failure in Layer Cakes
There are several things that may cause a layer cake to not be all that it should be. Some of the more common ones are:
- Hard crust- temperature was too high
- Sticky top crust- too much sugar, too short a baking time
- Cracked top - too much flour, over-mixing
- One side higher- oven heats unevenly, batter was put in pan unevenly and not smoothed out.
- Soggy on the bottom- too much liquid, under-beaten eggs, under-mixing, too short of a baking time
- Fallen-too much sugar, to little flour, too short of a baking time, cake was jarred during baking
- Coarse- insufficient creaming of butter and sugar, all purpose flour was used rather than cake flour
- Tough- too much flour, over-mixing, too many eggs
- Heavy texture- too many eggs, over-mixing, too little leavening
- Crumbly- under-mixing, too much flour, too much sugar, not enough butter, pan was not greased properly
Like anything else, making a good cake consistantly takes time and practice. Be patient, keep trying, and before long you will be turning out better than bakery quality cakes that you will be proud to serve.
Once you have the basic method down try other, more complex recipes to keep challenging yourself and to hone your skills.