Learning the Basics of Assembling and Decorating Multi-Layer Cakes | Lynn April | Skillshare

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Learning the Basics of Assembling and Decorating Multi-Layer Cakes

teacher avatar Lynn April, Self-taught baker and food photographer.

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:26
    • 2. Supply List

      1:28
    • 3. How To Assemble a 3-Layer Cake

      2:48
    • 4. How To Assemble a 2-Layer Cake With a Filling

      2:29
    • 5. How To Apply A Crumb Coat

      2:32
    • 6. How To Frost A Cake with a Smooth Finish

      2:30
    • 7. How To Frost A Cake with a Textured Finish

      2:55
    • 8. Practicing Piping Techniques

      5:15
    • 9. How To Put Borders On A Cake

      1:03
    • 10. Your Project

      0:21
    • 11. Final Thoughts

      1:52
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About This Class

In this class, you will learn the basics of assembling and decorating multi-layered cakes, including the proper way to add a filling between layers of a stacked cake. This class is geared toward beginners, but is appropriate for anyone who wants to level up their basic cake assembly skills and learn some simple piped border techniques.

For this class, you will need, at minimum:

  1. Two (2) (or more) cooled cake layers
  2. Three (3) cups of frosting
  3. A rubber spatula
  4. A serrated knife or cake leveler
  5. An offset spatula (ideally a small one for 6” or large one for larger cakes)
  6. A cake turntable
  7. A bench scraper

If you want to learn some simple decorating skills, you will need:

  1. Sprinkles
  2. A cake stand
  3. A plate to practice your piping skills on
  4. Piping bags + couplers + piping tips
  5. Scissors

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Meet Your Teacher

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Lynn April

Self-taught baker and food photographer.

Teacher

Hi, I'm Lynn! I'm the owner of Fresh April Flours, a website where I share all of my favorite (mostly) dessert recipes. I'm a self-taught scratch baker who loves to make cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and bread, and I want to help YOU become a better baker, regardless of where you're starting. 

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Lynn, April recipe blogger at FreshAprilFlours.com, where you'll find all of my favorite recipes from appetizers to sweets, but really mostly desserts. I am a completely self-taught baker and I taught myself how to bake from scratch after graduating from college with a biology degree. My then boyfriend, who is now my cookie loving husband, was still in college and I needed a hobby for evenings and weekends. I took a cake decorating class, and I learned how to make cake and frosting completely from scratch, and I absolutely fell in love with baking and decorating. I started my own custom cake baking and decorating business in 2011, but it eventually became too much to manage with a full-time work schedule. Once I stop baking cakes for other people in early 2014, they started asking me if I could share my go-to recipes with them so they could make their own cakes and cupcakes at home. And that's when my website, Fresh April Flours was born. While I still love to bake cakes and cupcakes, I also love baking cookies, yeast breads, and all kinds of other goodies. But mostly I love helping people learn how to bake from scratch and sometimes even make those treats look extra awesome. Blogging is now my full-time job, and while I miss my science at a lab bench, I see baking and decorating as my new kind of science in the kitchen. I love being able to spend so much more time with my family and giving into all the special requests I get from our two boys for their birthday cakes. In this class, I want to help you learn how to create a beautiful stacked two or three layer cake, even if you have zero experience, zero fancy decorating tools or zero clue where to start outside of a sheet cake that stays in the baking pan. Believe me, when I showed up at my first cake decorating class, I could barely even get the cake out of the pans. And honestly, I've had to improvise with cakes gone wrong even into my professional cake decorating career. Let me show you how to start with the basics by breaking it down step-by-step and showing you multiple ways to approach the same desired outcome. I have faith that you'll wind up surprising yourself with what you can create if you learn where to start and how to execute something that can sometimes look a little intimidating. Are you ready? Let's get decorating. 2. Supply List: For this class, you'll need two or three layers of cooled cake, preferably chilled. You'll need some frosting and a filling if you'll be using one. If you're doing an eight or nine inch cake, you want about three to four cups of frosting. And if you're doing a smaller six inch cake, you'll want about three cups of frosting. You'll also need a cake turntable and any cardboard rounds that you might want to put your cake on, you'll need a rubber spatula, a small offset spatula, a large serrated knife or cake leveler, bench scraper, some piping bags, a pair of scissors, any kind of piping tips you'd like to use, and couplers if you'd like to use those. A cake stand, a flat surface of any kind like a cutting board or a plate to practice your piping skills, and then any kind of sprinkles you'd like to decorate your cake at the end. In our first instructional section, I'm going to show you how to stack a three-layer cake without a filling and a two-layer cake with a filling. We won't be frosting the outside of the cake just yet, so you'll only need your cake layers and choice of cake leveling tool if your cake layers aren't leveled yet, your frosting, your turntable, and your spatulas. If you're going to be filling a cake with me, then you'll want to grab your filling, a piping bag, and a pair of scissors. 3. How To Assemble a 3-Layer Cake: Before starting any layered cake, you will need to level the cakes, meaning you'll need to remove the dome. that happens occasionally during baking. Sometimes you'll find that your cakes are already flat. This can depend on the recipe, on your oven or on the baking pan. If your cake layers are already flat, lucky you. If it's not, you have a couple options. You can either use a serrated knife to level it by sight and by hand. But I'm not doing that because I don't even do it remotely well. But my favorite and most recommended way is to use a cake leveler. This ensures you have a smooth cut and an even surface all the way across the top of your cakes. Now, don't get rid of your cake scraps. We'll talk about how to use them later. Once you have your cake layers leveled, spread a tiny bit of frosting directly onto your turntable or cardboard round to act as glue for the bottom layer. Then place the bottom layer cut side up directly onto your turntable or cardboard round, pressing it down very gently into that dollop of frosting. Use your rubber spatula to drop about a quarter cup of frosting onto the cut surface of the cake. Use your metal spatula to spread the frosting to the edges of the cake, adding more frosting if needed or desired. You can make this layer of frosting as thick or as thin as you want. I should note that it is recommended that your spatula is always making contact with frosting. Otherwise, you will pick up crumbs in the frosting on your spatula or run the risk of ripping your cake. If you get crumbs on the frosting on your spatula, wipe it off in your bowl in a designated section. We will use that crumby frosting later. Once you're happy with the frosting layer, place the second cake layer cut side down, adjusting it so that it is directly over the bottom layer, then press it down gently to secure it in place. Repeat the same process of frosting with this layer, then place the third layer, cut side down, on top. If there is any frosting peeking out of the sides of the cake, blend those in with your spatula. If you see gaps between layers, don't worry, we will fill those in later. This cake is now ready for a crumb coat, but we want to make sure it's nice and sturdy before we do that. So if you're able to, stick the cake and the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. This is not a requirement, just highly encouraged because I think it's always easier to work with a slightly chilled cake because it's sturdier than one at room temperature. In the next section, I will be stacking a two-layer cake with a filling in the middle. 4. How To Assemble a 2-Layer Cake With a Filling: If you haven't leveled your cake layers yet, go back and watch the beginning of the previous section on stacking a three-layer cake. If your two cake layers are leveled, let's get stacking. Whenever I fill a cake, I like to use a piping bag to help me. In the previous section, I just use my spatula to get my frosting on the cake. But when we use a filling, we need to be a little bit more intentional about how we fill that middle section. Once you have your cake layers leveled, pipe a tiny bit of frosting directly onto your turntable or cardboard round. Then place the bottom layer, cut side up, directly onto that cake turntable or cardboard round, pressing it down very gently into the dollop of frosting. When we're putting a filling between cake layers, and by filling, I mean anything that isn't the same frosting that is going on the outside of the cake, we want to make a well. The outside circle of the well will be whatever frosting is going on the outside of the cake, and it acts as a barrier between the filling and the outside frosting to prevent leaking or mixing of frostings. You can use a piping bag with a tip in it, but I find that just snipping the corner off of the piping bag is sufficient to make that well. Pipe a thick outline around the edges of the cake layer going almost all the way to the edge of the cake. Stop piping when you who have gone all the way around. Next, fill your well with your filling of choice. I'm just using vanilla frosting. Use a spatula to spread the filling all the way to the edges of the well, being careful not to overfill the layer. Don't fill higher than the border that you piped. Once you're happy with the filling, placed the top layer cut side down, adjusting it so that is directly over the bottom layer. Then press down gently to secure it in place. If there's any frosting peeking out of the sides of the cake, blend those in with your spatula. If you see gaps between layers, don't worry, we'll fill those in later. This cake is now ready for a crumb coat, but we want to make sure it's nice and sturdy and that filling is set before we do that. Stick the cake in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes before moving on to the next section. In the next section we will discuss what exactly a crumb code is and why it's important. Then I'll show you how to apply a crumb coat, which is our last step before decorating. 5. How To Apply A Crumb Coat: The crumb coat is, in my opinion, a very underrated element of cake decorating. It is simply a thin layer of frosting used to seal the cake layers together and also lock in any stray crumbs. Remember that designated section of crumby frosting? We will be using some of it here. Starting with your sturdy stacked cake directly in front of you, grab about a quarter to a half a cup of frosting with your spatula and drop it on top of the cake. I recommend grabbing all of that crumby frosting if you have any, but you can also use fresh frosting. Use your spatula to spread the frosting out to the edges of the cake. Since we're only spreading a thin layer frosting on the cake, it is highly likely that you will pick up lots of crumbs. That is okay. Just be sure to scrape your spatula off in that designated section of your bowl before grabbing new frosting. Continue spreading frosting on the top of the cake until the top is completely covered. If some frosting falls over the edge, that's okay. Once the top of the cake is completely covered, we'll work on the sides of the cake. Grab some new frosting with your spatula, again, using some of the crumby frosting if you have any available. Place your spatula on the side of the cake opposite of you and off to the side so that you are constantly pulling frosting toward you. Pull the spatula toward you while pushing the turntable away from you to spread the frosting all over the sides of the cake. Use your wrist to move the spatula on an angle back and forth, wiping the crumby frosting off before getting any new frosting. When every surface is covered with a thin layer of frosting, go around and smooth out the frosting as much as possible. We're going to refrigerate this cake before applying the final layer of frosting, so any lumps or bumps will harden where they are. Once the crumb coat is completely finished, refrigerate your cake for at least 30 minutes. In the next two sections, we will be covering our cakes with the final coating of frosting. I will be frosting my vanilla cake with a smooth finish and my chocolate cake with a textured finish. The initial process of applying the frosting will be the same, so you can follow along with either cake depending on your desired final finish. If you still need time to refrigerate your cake, pause the instruction here and I'll see you when you're ready. 6. How To Frost A Cake with a Smooth Finish: It's time for our final coat of frosting. For this vanilla cake, I will be doing a smooth finish. Starting with your chilled crumb coated cake directly in front of you, grab about half a cup of fresh frosting with your spatula and drop it on top of the cake. Use your spatula to spread the frosting out to the edges of the cake until it is completely covered, grabbing new frosting whenever you need it. I encourage you to push frosting over the edge of the top of the cake so that it falls down onto the sides. Once the top of the cake is completely covered, we'll work on the sides of the cake. Grab some new frosting with your spatula, then place your spatula on the side of the cake opposite of you, and off to the side, just like you did with the crumb coat, so that you are constantly pulling frosting toward you. Pull the spatula toward you while pushing the turntable away from you to spread the frosting all over the sides of the cake. Use your wrist to move the spatula on an angle back and forth, grabbing new frosting whenever you need it. When your cake is totally covered, we will use our bench scraper to make all of the frosting smooth and straighten out the edges. Holding the bench scraper completely upright and off to the side, gently push the scraper into the frosting while pulling the scraper toward you and pushing the turntable in the opposite direction with the other hand. As frosting collects on the scraper, remove it by wiping it off with a spatula. When you are happy with the sides, move to the top of the cake. Place the scraper at the top of the cake opposite of you, then gently pull the frosting toward the center of the cake, removing frosting after each scrape. Continue this process as many times as necessary until the cake is completely smooth. When you are happy with the frosting, you can transfer the cake to a cake stand with your hands or a couple of large spatulas. Now it's ready for decorating. In the next section, we will be finishing our chocolate cake with a textured finish. 7. How To Frost A Cake with a Textured Finish: It's time for our final coat of frosting. For this chocolate cake, I will be doing a textured finish. Starting with your chilled crumb coated cake directly in front of you, grab about half a cup of fresh frosting with your spatula and drop it on top of the cake. Use your spatula to spread the frosting out to the edges of the cake until it is completely covered, grabbing new frosting whenever you need it. I encourage you to push the frosting over the edge of the top of the cake so that it falls down onto the sides. Once the top of the cake is completely covered, we'll work on the sides of the cake. Grab some new frosting with your spatula, then place your spatula on the side of the cake opposite of you and off to the side, just like you did with the crumb coat, so that you are constantly pulling frosting toward you. Pull the spatula toward you while pushing the turntable away from you to spread the frosting all over the size of the cake. Use your wrist to move the spatula on an angle back and forth, grabbing new frosting whenever you need it. When your cake is totally covered, we will use our spatula to make a swirled effect around the sides and top of the cake. Place the tip of your spatula at the top of the side of the cake. With gentle pressure, press the spatula into the side of the cake, pulling the spatula toward you while pushing the turntable in the opposite direction. As the cake moves around, slowly move the spatula down the side of the cake until you get to the bottom of the cake. You can wipe frosting off your spatula anytime it gets too messy. After the sides are done, move to the top of the cake. Starting on the outer edge of the top of the cake, gently press the spatula into the frosting, pulling it toward you and pushing the turntable in the opposite direction. As you go around, move the spatula toward the center of the cake. You can also start in the center and move outward if that's more comfortable for you. When you've completed the swirl, you can transfer the cake to a cake stand with a couple of large spatulas. Now it's ready for any additional decorating you might want to do. In the next section, we will cover some simple piping techniques for borders, and I'll show you how you can practice before putting it right onto a cake. 8. Practicing Piping Techniques: Whenever I use a tip in a bag, I always like to use a coupler, but it is not essential. A coupler is a two-part plastic insert that allows you to switch out tips, which I tend to do a lot of, so that's what I'm going to use for this demo. Whether you're using a tip or a coupler, you'll want to push that thing all the way to the bottom of the piping bag, then score the bag with scissors where you want to cut the tip off. If you're using a coupler, you want to ensure that bag goes past the threads so you can attach the ring and hold the bag securely in place. If you're just using a tip, aim for about a third of the way up the tip to score the bag. Wiggle the coupler or tip back, snip off the tip, then squeeze the coupler or tip into the opening. If you're using a coupler, attach the tip you'd like to use, screw on the ring, and you're ready to go. Fill the bag with your frosting using your hand or a tall cup as a guide. Press out all of the air, twist the top, and squeeze frosting to the edge of the tip. The borders I'm going to cover are the small shell border with a 21 or small closed flower tip, a large shell border with a 1M or large open star tip, round pearl border and small scalloped border with a 12 and 1A, or small and large open circle tips, a rope border and rosette border with a 2D or large closed flower tip, and a scattered dollop method, which can be done with a 2D or large closed flower tip, 1M or large open star tip, or a 4B or large open star tip. Grab a large plate or cutting board or any other flat surface to practice these borders along with me. So I'm doing a small shell border with the 21 or closed flower tip. Start by squeezing with medium pressure, allowing the frosting to balloon out, and then gently flicking your wrist to push that frosting into a small mound. Pull back on the pressure on the bag and cover the tail of the shell in front of it. You can also do a shell border with a larger tip, and in this case I'm using a 1M or large open star. So again, you want to squeeze with medium pressure, allow the frosting to balloon out, and then flick your wrist back to make a tail. The next border we'll do is a small round scalloped border with a 12 tip, which is a small open circle tip. We're gonna do the same motion that we did for the shell border, we're just using a round tip for that. So start squeezing and balloon out, pull back, and make a tail. You can also do this with a large 1A or large open circle tip. You can also use the small or large round open tip to just make a simple dot border. You can also use the 2D or closed large flower tip to make a rosette border, which is essentially just little flowers as your border. Next, we're gonna do a rope border with the 2D tip. This one is essentially just an upright circle. So you want to work from the side and just make circles. For our last scattered dollop method, I'm just going to show it to you right on top of the cake using my 1M or large open star tip. So I like to use this tip just to sort of cover the top with some interesting dollops. It doesn't need to be anything fancy. There doesn't need to be any pattern to it. It just gives a little bit of texture to the top and can cover some spots. 9. How To Put Borders On A Cake: I'm going to continue using this 1M tip to pipe my large shell border on the side. Add your sprinkles before your frosting hardens. And now it's done. If you want to keep your cake simple and not add any borders, I like to add colorful sprinkles to just give the cake some character. 10. Your Project: Now it's time to talk about your class project. And it's really simple to make a short video of you frosting and decorating your cake or take a selfie with your newly decorated cake. Now, upload your project. Make sure you're on your desktop or laptop. Go to your projects and resources tab at the bottom of this video and upload your project. There. 11. Final Thoughts: In this video, we learned all about how to level cake layers, stack and decorate book a three layer and a two layer filled cake. Apply a crumb coat, frost the outside of a cake, and how to decorate with or without any piping goals. And remember when I said I would show you what to do with your cake scraps and crummy frosting. I highly recommend using your cake scraps to make homemade birthday cake, ice cream, or cake top, which are both recipes and tutorials you can find on my website. Just go to fresh April flowers.com and use the search bar at the top to search for those recipes. I'm really excited to see what you can do with your new skills. And even if it's a flop, I still want to see it. That's how we learn by making mistakes and maybe not the prettiest cakes that burst. So please check back in with me as your skills get better, I'd love to see your progress from practice to final product. Also, please stay connected with me on social media. I'm on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. Be sure to tag your pictures and videos with the hashtag, baking with fresh flowers so I can find your Bakes. And remember, it's just cake, even if it falls apart, break it into chunks and serve it in parfait cups, throw it in a trifle dish and make a spoon desert. Or just laugh about it and go at it with your friends or family with some works. Can you tell I've had my fair share of cake fails. I hope you'll leave this class feeling more confident in your abilities to create beautiful stacked cakes. If you liked the video, comment and leave a review. Let others know what you liked about this video and encouraged them to jump in here and learn for themselves. Thanks for watching and thanks for trusting me to teach you about layered cakes. I'm looking forward to staying connected with you and watching your cake decorating skills flourish.