Assembling layer cakes

Assembling layer cakes

By
From
Boutique Baking
Photographer
Georgia Glynn Smith

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
cake leveller or large serrated knife
non-slip turntable
flat metal disc, that is larger than the turntable
cake card, the same size and shape as the cake
pastry brush and jug
large flat palette knife
metal side scraper

Method

  1. Evenly trim the tops of all the cake layers using either a cake leveller or large serrated knife.
  2. Discard the trimmings. For light sponges, also trim the bottom off the middle layer to remove any dark crumb: this is not required for a dark chocolate cake. If any dark crumb is left on top of the cake after trimming, rub the surface in a circular motion using your hand held flat until the majority of the darker crumbs have come off.
  3. Centre a flat metal disc on top of a non-slip turntable, then place the cake card in the middle, securing it to the disc with a dab of buttercream or ganache. Spread a thin layer of buttercream or ganache over the cake card.
  4. Lay the bottom cake layer on the cake card with the crumb side facing downwards. If required by the recipe, brush the cake layer with sugar syrup.
  5. Spoon the filling onto the middle of the cake layer. Using a large flat palette knife, spread the filling evenly outwards from the middle by turning the turntable against the direction of the palette knife. Hold the palette knife edge parallel with the cake, but with the blade tilting upwards slightly. Spread the filling evenly to a thickness of approximately 3–5mm.
  6. Lay the middle cake layer on top of the bottom layer; for a light sponge, this is the layer that has been trimmed on both top and bottom. If required by the recipe, brush the cake layer with sugar syrup.
  7. Spread the filling over this middle cake layer, as in step 5, then lay the top cake layer on top of the middle layer with the crumb side facing upwards. Press down gently with your hand held flat to remove any air pockets between the layers.
  8. Spoon a generous amount of buttercream, frosting or ganache on top of the cake.
  9. Using a large flat palette knife, spread the buttercream, frosting or ganache over the surface of the cake as in step 5. Apply enough pressure to spread the coating thinly until the dark crumb shows through and the excess coating overlaps the edges.
  10. Holding the palette knife vertically, push the overlapping coating down the sides of the cake. Spread the coating sideways using a back-and-forth paddling motion while turning the turntable against the direction of the palette knife.
  11. Once the cake is covered, take a metal side scraper all round the sides in a single swoop to get them as straight as possible. Again, this should be a very thin layer that allows the dark crumb to show through.
  12. Clean the top surface of the cake by scraping any excess coating from the edges towards the middle using the palette knife in a ‘flicking’ motion. This first coat is called the crumb coat; its purpose is to hold any crumbs together and create a basic shape for the cake. The better the crumb coat, the better the final result. Chill the cake until the crumb coat has set, this may between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
  13. For the final masking coat, cover the cake top and sides with clean, crumb-free buttercream, frosting or ganache as in steps 9 and 10. Use enough coating so that no crumbs show through. You will need to work fast at this stage as the chilled crumb coat underneath will quickly set the fresh masking coat.
  14. Once the top and sides of the cake are masked, run a metal side scraper all round the sides in a single swoop as in step 11, holding the bottom edge of the side scraper against the cake card. If the results are not perfect the first time, repeat this step as it requires a little practise.
  15. Clean the top surface of the cake as in step 12. Chill the cake in the fridge for at least 1 hour or until set.
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