I grew up watching my Mom make cakes. She shaped lovely cut out creations for our birthdays that were miniature works of art. I have pictures of me smiling with a coconut covered white elephant and a pretty pink butterfly. My aunt was also a cake decorator. I watched her ice cakes until they were as smooth as glass, and place silver balls in intricate flowers with a pair of tweezers.
You’d think with all that watching I would have learned a thing or two in the cake department. Well, I’ve learned a thing or two…but mostly through a series of monumental disasters!
My cut out cakes for our boys ended up looking less than stellar. After slaving away on a monster truck cake with donut wheels, my sweet little 5 year old said,
“It’s ok, Mommy. It just looks like it’s already been in a wreck!”
It was a very happy day indeed, when I realized that my boys could care less what the cake looked like. They just wanted it to taste good!
So, I made my very first Vanilla Cake with Butterscotch filling and Buttercream icing.
The rest is history. This will forever be the “birthday cake” tradition in our family. Although I’ve offered to try other flavours, this is always the chosen one.
I’ve now made this cake over and over…and learned lots in the disaster department. So, if I can help any of you from making the same mistakes I’ve made (on birthday days, no less!), then my efforts are all worth it!
So, here we go:
How To Assemble a Filled and Iced Layer Cake:
Before you do anything, properly prepare your cake pans for baking. I made this little Youtube video to show you the process I use:
Disaster Alert! Make sure you test your cake with a toothpick to see if it’s completely done before removing it from the oven. It should come out completely clean if it is done.
If you think that it might taste even yummier if it is slightly underdone and gooey, be warned: The middle of your cake will sink into the cooling rack until it becomes a puddle of goo. (Yep. Done that.)
Also, let your cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan before trying to remove it. Then, run a knife around the edge and flip it over. It should come out like a charm.
Once you have all the elements for your cake made, it’s time for the fun to begin. You’ll need:
- Two cake layers
- Filling (this one is butterscotch)
- Thin icing for the crumb coat
- Thicker icing for the top coat
- Your favorite spreaders
Disaster Alert! It is imperative that all parts of these ingredients are completely cool before you start. If you have warm cake, the icing will melt as you put it on. If the filling is warm, the top will slide off the bottom. (Yep, done both of those things…) If you have the time, it’s easiest to ice cake when it’s frozen.
Step One: Place the first layer of cake with the flat side up on the cake plate.
Step 2: Spread the filling on the top of layer one, stopping about 1 inch from the edge.
Try to get it as even as possible. You may even have a bit of filling left over.
Disaster Alert!: If you layer on the filling too thick, it will seep over the edges…
Step 3: Place layer 2 on with the flat side down.
Disaster Alert: Do not think that it would make much more sense to put the rounded side down so that it would be flat on the top. If you do, the top layer will slide off just before your dinner guests arrive and you will need to hold it together with a giant skewer…
Step 4: Trim off the top to make it flat.
Honestly, I hardly ever do this step. My family doesn’t seem to mind if the cake is slightly rounded on the top. But, since I knew I would be showing you these steps, I thought I’d be all fancy-like this time…
Step 5: Ice cake with a crumb coat
A crumb coat is a thin layer of icing that’s underneath the top layer of icing. It’s a thinner consistancy so that it spreads nicely and “seals” in the crumbs on the cake.
Step 6: Spread on the top layer of icing
I forgot to take pictures of this step, since I was doing a Facebook live of this part. So, you can watch it in real life time here:
Top off the cake with sprinkles!
You can go all cake boss and get really fancy, but I just throw on a few sprinkles…
And I’ve given up on perfection. It’s ok if it isn’t perfect.
It’s a birthday, after all.