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Four-Layer Cake with Buttercream

Scott Phillips

Yield: Yields one four-layer cake

Servings: twelve.

This is the basic method for assembling and frosting a four-layer cake. For inspiration, see Vanilla Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream & Raspberry Jam, or Orange Marmalade Layer Cake with Grand Marnier Buttercream, or choose your own favorite flavor combinations.


  • 1 recipe Vanilla Butter Cake 
  • 1 recipe Buttercream  (your choice of flavor)
  • 3/4 cup seedless jam or marmalade (optional)
  • 3 Tbs. liqueur, such as brandy or Grand Marnier (optional)

Nutritional Information

      Nutritional Sample Size based on twelve servings
      Calories (kcal) : 800
      Fat Calories (kcal): 460
      Fat (g): 52
      Saturated Fat (g): 32
      Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
      Monounsaturated Fat (g): 14
      Cholesterol (mg): 205
      Sodium (mg): 350
      Carbohydrates (g): 80
      Fiber (g): 0
      Protein (g): 7


Assemble the layers:

  • Level the cakes, if necessary, and slice each cake into two layers making a total of four layers of cake.
  • Place the bottom layer on a flat serving platter or a cake stand lined with strips of waxed paper to keep it clean while assembling the cake. Top the layer with a scant 1-1/2 cups buttercream, spreading it evenly with a metal cake spatula almost to the cake’s edge. If your’re using jam between the layers, stir together the jam and liquer in a small bowl. Spread a third of the jam on the next cake layer, then lay it, jam-side down, over the buttercream filling. Repeat with the next two layers.

Frost the cake:

  • First apply a light coat of frosting (called crumb coating) to seal the cake crumbs in: Spoon about 1/2 cup buttercream into a small bowl. Spread it in a very thin layer over the entire cake with a small metal cake spatula. You should be able to see the cake layers through the icing. Chill the cake for about 20 minutes or until the icing is firm.
  • Spread the icing thickly and evenly over the entire cake with a large metal cake spatula. Don’t worry about getting a smooth, perfect finish; just make sure the cake is completely covered and the frosting is spread uniformly. You shouldn’t be able to see the layers underneath the buttercream.
  • With the back of a teaspoon, smear the icing and pull it upward to form curls and swirls over the entire cake.


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