LET US CONTINUE OUR TOPIC OF BASIC CAKE MAKING TOGETHER!
FILLING: FILL' ER UP!
While you can stay simple by using your frosting as the filler between the layers, consider other options for a fun combination of flavors and textures.
Lemon curd is a great filling in between layers, for a touch of flavorful brightness, bitterness, and tang. Also consider using jams and jellies in the center for a sweet, fruity filling.
Chocolate ganache is rich and decadent. For just a hint of indulgence, you can use cooled ganache as a filling, and decorate the rest with a buttercream frosting.
If using more liquidy fillings like jams and curds, I recommend piping a small border of frosting around the edge of the cake first – this creates a barrier to prevent the filling from oozing out, keeping the outer appearance of the dessert looking clean and neat.
DECORATIONS: THE FINISHING TOUCHES
The cherry on top, so to speak, is what you want for the finishing touches.
Want to stay modern and minimal? You can make a sleek statement by displaying your dessert with only the frosting, and no extra decorations or borders.
Top and bottom borders create a more complete presentation. We’ll go over the ins and outs of piping borders in more detail in the tutorial below.
Rainbow sprinkles or chocolate jimmies are classics that will never get old.
You can even make your own homemade sprinkles with royal icing by using a decorating technique called the transfer method – you pipe small dots or lines with the royal icing on parchment paper and let them dry until hardened.
Play around with this transfer method by piping different designs with royal icing, like piping rosettes if you want decorations that are feminine and delicate.
But if you want some extra pizazz, use garnishes that complement or enhance the flavors of your finished dessert.
For example, fresh fruit on top gives the dessert an extra pop of color, and balances the richness from the icing. Use chopped chocolate to highlight the chocolaty decadence of a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and ganache. Or top your vanilla confection, Black Forest, or Chocolate Mole Cake with homemade maraschino cherries.
For the spring and summer, use candied flowers as a dainty, elegant garnish.
GET AHEAD WITH THE PROPER TOOLS
A cake is only as good as the tools used to make it! Read our list of tools that you will need to have on hand. We explain some of these items in more detail in a separate review.
Offset spatula or metal bench scraper
Serrated bread knife or cake leveler
Piping bags and tips
Washcloths or paper towels
Now that you’re equipped with all the right tools, let’s move on to how your cakes need to be prepped before decorating!
PREPPING YOUR CAKE
Now that you have all of your tools and ingredients ready to go, it’s time to focus on prepping your baked bases for decorating.
Keep reading below – we share all of the details that you should keep in mind.
It really is tempting to decorate as soon as your baked items come out of the oven.
Here’s my advice:
Don’t do it.
You must wait for cakes to be completely cool before you start decorating. This is because the final texture and crumb are still developing as they cool.
More importantly, your baked items must release all of their heat before you apply any toppings.
After all, frosting is a mixture of butter and sugar – two ingredients that melt very easily.
When applied to a hot dessert, the icing that you put all of that hard work into making will melt. Everywhere.
Avoid a hot, gloopy, melting mess by waiting for your cakes to cool completely.
CUT THE TOP FOR A FLAT SURFACE
In order to end up with a finished dessert that has perfectly even and angled edges, there is one essential step to take, well before you frost your dessert:
Take a look at your cake rounds. If the tops are curved with a little hump or mound, it is absolutely necessary to cut off the tops.
I may have failed shop class in middle school, but I do understand that it is much easier to build off of a flat structure than one that is rounded.
From a visual standpoint, your finished product will look cleaner, neater, and more professionally designed with all of those gorgeous right angles!
To achieve this perfect pastry plateau, use a serrated knife or cake leveler and carefully saw the rounded portion off of the top to make a flat surface.
Go at a slow pace – especially if you are using a serrated knife – to ensure that you are a cutting an even line across the entire round.
After gently brushing off any crumbs, your layers are ready for decorating!