Cupcakes and pound cakes done – now it’s time for layer cakes before moving on from butter-based cakes.
Butter cakes are more dense than sponge cakes, so perfect for standing up to the weight of multiple layers of cake and filling.
I will admit upfront that my cake decorating skills are basic to say the least so please don’t expect pictures of jaw-dropping, architecturally designed creations.
According to Michel Suas, the key steps to cake assembly are splitting, filling, masking and icing:
- Splitting – most cakes can be split into two of four layers. Use a good quality serated knife to stop the cake tearing and wait until the cake is completely cooled. Cut the cake on a level surface and from one direction, turning the cake as you cut. The key to even, consistent splitting is ensuring that the angle of the blade is constant and doesn’t change direction.
- Filling – first, you must determine which layer should be in which position within the assembled cake. The most damaged layer should be used in the middle so that you can hide the problems with icing. The flattest layer, usually the bottom layer flipped upside down, should be reserved for the top. Place the filling on the centre of the cake and drawn out to the edge with a palette knife. Ideally, use a cake turntable to ensure an even spread.
- Masking – this refers to the process of putting a thing coat of icing over the sides and top of the cake. The purpose is to secure all of the crumbs so that none get into the icing. After cakes are masked, they should be placed in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
- Icing – as with masking, icing should be placed in the middle of the surface, and then worked out to the edges with a palette knife. A n even layer should leave some icing hanging over the edges, and this can be used to ice the sides. After the sides are done, there should be some now extended above the surface, so these will need to be removed to create vertical sides and a flat top.
For this cake, I went for a traditional vanilla cake and sandwiched it together with raspberry buttercream made from fresh raspberry puree.
I admit that I didn’t get as far as masking, but will definitely try this later down the track when my technique is a bit better.
Vanilla cake with raspberry buttercream
125g unsalted butter, softened
230g caster sugar
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon milk
1 cup fresh/frozen raspberries
Preheat oven to 180°C.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 mins. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl and mix together. Gradually fold into the batter, alternating with the milk until completely combined.
Prepare a 20 cm cake tin (I used a heart-shaped version) and pour in the batter. Cook for 25-30 minutes.
To make the icing – heat the raspberries in a pan over a low heat until macerated. Pass through a sieve to remove all of the seeds. Mix together with butter, sugar and milk until smooth and creamy.
Note – these quantities make one cake which can be split into two or four layers. I like the appearance of three layers, so didn’t use the fourth layer.