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Episode 1: Leveling and Splitting Layer Cakes

Sarah Breckenridge; videography by Gary Junken and Cari Delahanty; edited by Cari Delahanty
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The most beautiful cake decorations will be lost on your guests if they are distracted by a cake that’s lopsided or lumpy. This video demonstrates to build a great base for your cake: how to level, split and layer the cakes with filling so that they are straight and sturdy.

Get Erin’s Recipes:
Devil’s Food Cake
Vanilla Chiffon Cake
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream (with variations)

More Episodes in this Series
Episode 1: Leveling and Splitting Layer Cakes   Episode 2: Crumb Coat for Fondant Cakes   Episode 3: Buttercream Effects
Episode 1: Leveling and Splitting Layer Cakes
  Episode 2: Crumb Coat for Fondant Cakes   Episode 3: Buttercream Effects
Episode 4: Fondant-Coated Cake   Episode 5: Doweling and Stacking Multi-Tiered Cakes   Episode 6: Fruit Leather Decorations
Episode 4: Fondant-Coated Cake   Episode 5: Doweling and Stacking Multi-Tiered Cakes   Episode 6: Fruit Leather Decorations
Episode 1: Leveling and Splitting Layer Cakes   Back to Series Intro   Erin Gardner
Episode 7: Simple Fondant Shapes   Episode 8: Stamping   Back to Series Intro
Great Cake Decorating by Erin Gardner

To start: apply a small smear of buttercream to a cake cardboard that’s the same diameter as your cake.

Next you need to level off whatever domed top has formed on your cake. Place it on the cake cardboard, then turn the cake pan upside down and place it next to the baked cake. This way, it can be a guide to keep your knife straight as you saw off the domed top.

Now split the cake into two layers: use a ruler to find the center point of your cake, and mark it by lightly scoring the cake with a knife.

With a serrated knife in one hand, and your other hand on top of the cake to keep it steady, use a smooth sawing motion to slowly cut around the cake from the outside edges toward the center, rotating the cake as you go, until the knife is all the way through.

Next, layer the cakes with filling. One common problem with layer cakes is the “muffin-top” look, where the filling either isn’t spread properly, or it’s too soft to support the cake above it evenly, so it develops a bulge on top. To avoid this, if you’re using buttercream frosting for your filling, spread the buttercream on the bottom layer, and take it to 1/4 inch away from the edge.

Then place the next round of cake on top, and press down, starting from the center and moving out to the edges. This forces the buttercream to fill in the space between the cakes evenly, without oozing over the edge.

If you’re using a softer filling, like jam or lemon curd, first pipe a thick ring of buttercream around the side of your bottom layer. This will act as a dam to keep the jam in place.

Spread the jam inside the ring, and add the next cake layer on top.

Want to check your work? Use a hardware-store level to make sure that your cake is completely straight before moving on to frosting them. If anything is out of whack, you can adjust by pressing down on one side or another while the fillings are still soft.
Once it’s perfectly level, put the cake in the fridge and let it set for at least 2 hours before you frost or finish it.


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