How to Make a Layer Cake: Expert Secrets, Revealed!

Show-stopping cake designs are only possible after you’ve mastered fundamental cake decorating skills needed. Knowing how to make a layer cake — from leveling and filling to stacking — is definitely a baking basic that needs to be honed to perfection!

Read on for our handy step-by-step guide on how to make a layer cake to perfection!

Discover our easy tips on how to make layer cakes

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How to make a layer cake

Materials needed:

  • Multiple layers of freshly baked cake (in our experience, a pound cake recipe works best)
  • Cake leveler or a high-quality large serrated knife
  • Spirit level (you can use spirit level apps on your smartphone or tablet too)
  • Disposable piping bags
  • Fresh buttercream
  • Good-quality preserve (optional)
  • Small angled palette knife
  • Turntable
  • Wooden skewer
Tips for assembling a layer cake How to level, fill and stack a basic layer cake

Step 1: Level the cakes

Once your cakes have baked and cooled, you should level them. This involves cutting away any uneven or domed parts from the top with a good cake leveler or a large serrated knife.

To level your cake layers, hold them on your counter top or turntable with one hand lightly pressing down on the top. Eye which sections you need to remove and carefully slice the offending lump or bump off. Keep checking and making sure your layers are all perfectly level with the help of a spirit level.

Top tip:

Don’t stress too much about perfection as long as your cakes and fillings are level and equal in size. If an edge or two of your layers fall or crumble off this can be filled in and straightened out with your crumb coat. After all, it’s cake, not cement and steel rods!

Step 2: Set up your space

Brush any excess crumbs away from your layers to ensure a clean and mess-free surface.

Place your first cake layer onto a work board on your turntable. A work board is pretty handy when it comes to chilling or transporting your cakes, plus it also frees up your turntable later on.

How to neatly fill a layer cake with buttercream

Step 3: Prepare your buttercream

Now it’s time to bag up your buttercream and fruit preserves into decorating bags. A lot of people still fill their cakes the traditional way: with a dollop of filling and a palette knife. But piping bags give you a tidy, even and clean look. They also help distribute an equal amount of filling per layer.

Piping Buttercream Between Cake Layers

Step 4: Pipe a layer of buttercream

Pipe your buttercream in concentric circles on top of the first cake layer. Once done, use a small angled palette knife to smooth the buttercream.


Top tip:

If you want to fill your cake with fruit preserves, buttercream is still a good idea. You can create a “dam” with buttercream piped around the edge of your layers. Add the preserve in the center and avoid any messy jam escaping out of the center of your cake.

How to Make a Layer Cake Tutorial

Step 5: Add more layers

When the filling is in place, top it with another leveled layer of cake. Press down ever so lightly, making sure not to push or squish your filling out.

Top tip:

If you’re going to be covering your layer cake with fondant, we recommend leaving your stacked and filled cake to stand for about 10-15 minutes before adding your crumb coat. Leaving your cake to sit helps it get used to its own weight, releasing any trapped air out of the cake and filling, avoiding annoying air bubbles.

Step 7:

Now place inside a refrigerator to chill and set!

Do you wish you could bake perfect cakes?

Turn your wish to reality and make delicious cakes minus crumbs, crowning or cracking, with The Wilton Method: Baking Basics online video lessons. Enroll Now »

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One Response to “How to Make a Layer Cake: Expert Secrets, Revealed!”
  1. Catherine Gallagher
    Catherine Gallagher

    The dried out dark thick crusts and domed tops are a dead give away that the cakes are way over-baked. I bet they were baked at 350°F, anodized aluminum baking or dark metal pan was used, and no cloth baking strips on the pans. Plus they were in the oven way too long. The top cake is burnt. Both are dried out hockey pucks. I don’t know where Craftsy find these so called “bakers”.