Now that we have the basics to start - aprons on…. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and we're off!
First bake your can in 2 or 3 pans (depending on how tall you'd like the final cake to be. You can use a boxed cake or your favorite recipe for now - later on we'll get into fancier cakes.
Hint: Take a level and put it in the center of the oven rack to make sure your oven is level. (Of course this is while the oven is off, but I'm sure I don't have to tell you that!) If it needs to be evened out carpentry shims work the best to lift the oven up a bit.
By doing this you will keep your cakes from being lop-sided. In addition to being easier to work with, your cake will have a much better appearance.
While your cake is baking start making your frosting and dye your accent colors for borders and lettering. Have a filling ready to go. Again, for now we are going to use whatever frosting you like.
Ding- dong! That's the oven telling you your cake is done, but as all ovens are a little different be sure to check. Allow your cake to cool completely before trying to decorate.
Hint: Although you may feel this would be a good time for a coffee break -make it Decaf. I don't drink a lot of coffee before decorating a cake... it makes for a steadier hand.
When cool, take the 1st cake and flip it out onto the back of the pan that you baked it in. This will act as a turntable. Next we will take our cake slicing knife and hold it level to where the "dome" begins at the top and where the "straight" side ends.
Start turning the cake pan and hold the knife in the same position. Keep turning the pan. Your knife will do the work and eventually cut the dome right off. Repeat for your second layer.
Now put one layer on the plate that you will serve it on. Grab your filling and an offset spatula. Your filling could be another layer of frosting or fruit or preserves or...
The key to your filling is to be generous, but not so much that it starts oozing when the second layer and frosting is on. You don't want it to seep through the frosting to the outside of the cake. Do this until it is spread out and then do a once over to even the filling. Then stack on your second layer, flat side up.
Hint: For the frosting, the first coat is a "crumb coat". A crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting that will catch any crumbs.
After you put on the crumb coat, put the cake in the refrigerator or even freezer until the frosting hardens. When we go to do the final frosting the crumbs are easier to deal with because they are locked in place.
Your cake is now frosted and beautiful and the only thing left to do is enjoy.
Do you want recipes for cakes, tips on frosting or decorating, hints on baking in general?
Just let me know what you'd like to do and I'll write it up for you. Baking should be fun and can be a family experience.
Have a question for our Expert Pastry Chef?
Send it to: