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Stacked layer cakes are some of the most popular and traditional options for any kind of bake. They are easy to make and, once stacked, can be made to look like almost any shape you like.
For a beginner, stacking a cake can be a difficult task. If your cakes have come out of the oven with domed tops or if you don’t use the right frosting, then the layers won’t stack together properly. This can make the cake look messy and even cause it to collapse.
Stacking a cake is a simple process that can go wrong if you’re not careful. Here are some easy steps to follow:
1. Add a small amount of buttercream to the center of your chosen cake stand or board.
2. Place the bottom layer on top of the buttercream.
3. Add a layer of buttercream on top of this (about half an inch should do)
See, it’s not a very complicated process but it can still take a while to master a perfectly stable and well stacked cake.
But don’t worry, here are a few tips and tricks to remember so that you can stack your cake perfectly (and rescue it if anything goes wrong).
For a cake to be stacked properly, it needs to be level. The least wasteful way of ensuring this is to make a slight dent in the batter before the cake goes in the oven.
Cakes always rise highest in the middle, so adding a dent will mean that the whole cake will rise at the same height.
Make Sure It’s Level
If this doesn’t quite work, you can always level off the cake when it is out of the oven. When the cake has cooled, take a knife and simply cut off the top so that it is level. (Make sure you don’t waste these pieces, they can be made into cake pops or just eaten as they are if you want to taste the cake before serving it).
Another way to make the cake level is to bake one large, deep cake and cut it in two. This will require a very deep baking tin and might not be suitable for all cakes. The thicker and denser the cake, the longer it will take to bake. This technique is best for light, fluffy cakes.
To cut the cake in half, you can use a knife but this can be difficult and messy depending on the size of the cake. The best thing to do is to take flavorless floss, hold it taut, and push or pull it through the center of the cake. This will give also give you perfectly even cakes, so you don’t have to worry about one rising higher than the other in the oven or weighing separate batters beforehand.
Use the Right Frosting
The frosting is what keeps the layers of the cake together. Using a frosting that is too thin or not the right consistency can cause the cake layers to slip or not hold their shape.
There are many different kinds of frosting and the best for stacking a cake is buttercream. Anything else, such as fondant frosting, won’t be tacky enough and won’t keep the cake together (it also won’t taste very nice and a bad tasting cake has no purpose).
Buttercream is quite a difficult frosting to master as the consistency is very changeable, but this can also be a good thing. Buttercream can easily be made thinner or thicker as needed and can also be colored and flavored however you like.
One of the downsides to buttercream is that it can easily melt. If the buttercream isn’t of the right consistency or isn’t kept cool, then it will melt and cause the cake layers to slip.
The buttercream itself should be quite thick, but don’t put too much in between the cake layers or it won’t stack properly. If the buttercream between the layers is too thick, it will be uneven and the layers may fall or be difficult to handle as you decorate the outside.
If you chose to cut your cake to level it off before adding the frosting, then buttercream is an even better option. Cutting the cake will produce a lot of crumbs which will be impossible to get rid of as the inside of the cake will simply keep producing them. Buttercream will pick up the crumbs and make it less messy.
Another way that buttercream can help with stacking a cake is right at the start of decorating. Once you have decided what you will present your cake on, spread a small amount of buttercream in the middle and place the bottom layer on this. The buttercream will act as a glue to stick the cake to the surface and keep it steady for stacking and frosting.
If you’re really struggling with keeping your cake steady, then there is another option. Using wooden dowels is a great way of keeping the stacked layers together, especially if you’re planning on carving the cake into a specific shape.
Dowels are sort of like kebab sticks but thicker and sturdier. The dowells can be placed into the cake at any angle, but for stacking cakes the best option is to place short dowels in between the layers so that they slot into each other.
Dowells are also useful if you want some height to a cake and can even be used for wedding cakes to add space between the tiers.
One important thing is to not forget that the dowells are in there, especially if you’re serving the cake to others!
So, now you know all the ways to stack a cake and make sure it stays stacked. The most important thing to remember is to be patient and follow the recipe. You can’t go wrong if you’re following an expert.
But also remember, a messy cake can still taste nice and that’s the most important thing!
For more frequently asked questions, visit our index of food-related questions and answers. Here are a few suggestions for you: