How to Stack a Cake - For Beginners

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Melinda Strauss
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I am definitely an amateur when it comes to stacking cakes but I also love to test the limits of my creativity. So when I had the idea to stack a cake for my son’s birthday party, I knew research was necessary! What I realized while searching the Web for tips was that the advice coming from professionals seemed so complicated. Sometimes the best person to give a beginner advice is another beginner. So I’m here as an amateur cake stacker with simple and easy directions!

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With some great advice from Melissa at Lil’ Miss Cakes and more tips from the Web,I was ready. You want to start with a good recipe. See my Rainbow Layer Cake recipe on Joy of Kosher. Since you will be stacking two cakes, just double the recipe. I chose to make my cake with red and yellow layers so after mixing the batter, I separated it in to two large bowls and whisked in red gel food coloring in one and yellow in the other (gel food coloring won’t change the texture of the batter).

A few tips: Bake the bottom cake in three 9-inch round pans and the top cake in three 6-inch round pans. Line each pan with parchment paper then spray with cooking spray to ensure the cakes come out of their pans easily. Once the cakes have cooled completely, use a serrated knife to slice off the rounded dome on top of the cakes to even them out. You don’t want uneven layers or the cake will be lopsided. Save that extra cake for cake pops!

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When the cakes are completely cooled, you are ready to stack the layers. On a 9-inch round cake board, place the first layer of cake bottom side down. Use a cake revolving plate so you can turn the cake as you frost. Dollop a large amount of buttercream on top and spread with an offset spatula to the edges of the cake. Top with the second layer of cake, repeat the process then top with the third layer, this time bottom side up for an even top to the cake. Using another large dollop of buttercream, “crumb coat” the cake, which means you are coating the cake with a thin layer of buttercream to cover any imperfections and set any loose crumbs. This process does not need to be pretty! Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

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Follow the same process with the 6-inch tier (on a 6-inch cake board) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

The bottom layer should be ready to decorate at this point!  Place a large dollop of buttercream on top of the cake and spread the frosting cleanly around the top and sides. Keep a cup of hot water nearby to dip in the offset spatula, wipe with a towel then smooth on the buttercream with the hot utensil.

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To cover your cake in sprinkles like mine, place the sprinkles in the palm of your hand and press them against the buttercream. Open up the rolled fondant, scoop out ½ teaspoons and roll in to balls. Place the balls all around the bottom of the cake in alternating colors. Bonus:  covers any imperfections!

To decorate the top cake, I used colored fondant to make superhero cutouts. Use any cookie cutter you want to make fun shapes. Sprinkle powdered sugar on the counter and the rolling pin so the fondant doesn’t stick. Roll out the fondant, cut out the shapes and set them aside.

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Remove the top layer from the fridge and using more buttercream, cover it completely. Place your fondant shapes on the cake and set it aside.

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Next, stabilize your cake to hold the top layer. You can either buy plastic dowels or use wide straws. Place them in towards the center of the bottom cake and cut off the excess. Gently place the top layer over the dowels, making sure it’s centered on the cake.

Create more fondant balls for the edges of the top layer and you are done! Refrigerate uncovered for up to 3 days. Please comment below if you have any questions or tips.

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Check out the layers!

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