Monday, May 7, 2012

How to Level, Fill and Crumb Coat a Layered Cake

Calling all cake-o-holics.  I have a bit of a dilemma on my hands.

When I got back from Paris last week, I learned that I needed to have a layered cake made, filled and crumb coated for this Wednesday, as I had missed the cake decorating classes (offered at the WIWC) in which we had done this while in Paris.  And it absolutely had to be done within the week, as we are learning how to cover our cakes with fondant this week (yay for future beautiful cakes!!).

Which led to the first of several dilemmas.

The first, and most minor, was finding the time to actually make and put together a layered cake.  I didn't want to leave this to the last minute.  You know how this goes with kids.  You try to whip it together the night before and you burn the cake.  Or you realize that you have no flour left and your neighbours, knowing that you're on a hunt for flour, all have their lights turned off.  Or your kid completely foils any cake decorating plans by coming down with the flu.  We've all been there, right?

And nothing was going to wreck my cake decorating adventure, so I got on top of making these cakes right away.

Which led me to my second dilemma.  My instructions were to make a tiered cake, fill and crumb coat it and leave it in the freezer until the day before class. However, there was no way on God's green earth that a layered cake was going to fit anywhere in my "can barely close it even with a case of Diet Coke on top of it" deep freeze.  Fast forward to my good friend Heather, who always bails me out in a pinch, who happened to have some space in her freezer (where my cake still happily sits - I hope!!! - as I type this).

However, the much bigger dilemma is what to do with a three layered cake once it is thawed and decorated??? Having already been in the freezer, it can't be frozen again. And there is no chance that the two of us will be able to come anywhere near finishing a 3-layer cake that I think weighs more than Chloé (in her carseat!) in the few days that it will stay fresh...

Any takers??  

I don't promise that it will be beautifully decorated, as I'm still learning.  But I can promise that it will be relatively delicious.  I made the baking soda-less version of  Katie's chocolate sour cream cake.  It was divided and baked in two 9-inch pans.  Plus, I had a third layer, since I also used this recipe to make cupcakes for Logan's birthday for daycare, leaving me with half a batch of cake batter.

One thing that I learned in cake class is that to cover a cake with fondant, you need to pick a recipe that makes a relatively dense cake (such as the above recipe, or a pound cake, etc.).  

Once the cakes have cooled, you generally need to level them so that they stack nicely on top of one another.  The chocolate sour cream cake without baking soda is perfect for this, since it doesn't rise.  You just need to be sure to smooth out the batter nicely so that it is flat going into the oven.   

However, if you need to level your cake, you can buy a cake leveler.  Or, alternatively, you can pick the lowest point of the cake, insert a toothpick, and progressively rotate the cake, inserting a new toothpick every few inches around the cake.  This will then help guide you as you level your cake with a knife (proceed with caution!).

Once your cakes are level, you need to pipe some buttercream icing around the outside edge of each cake (except the top one).  This creates a sort of dam so that the filling doesn't run out and down the side of the cake.  To do so, you can just use your piping bag with a coupler only (no tip).  I used the Wilton's buttercream icing recipe with only 2 tbsp. of milk for stiff icing.  For my 3-layer cake, I needed to do this on 2 of the 3 cake layers.

I watched this video to be sure that I was doing this properly.

I then filled the cakes with store-bought cherry pie filling. 


I had dreams of hunting down a delicious recipe for some Oreo cream filling, but we had just gotten back from France and I also needed to make some cupcakes for Logan's birthday.  So store-bought cherry pie filling it was.

Somehow, despite watching the video, and despite trying to not overfill my cakes, I still managed to do so, as the filling was leaking out the sides a tiny bit after I crumb coated them.  Lesson learned for next time... My teacher let me know that the only way to fix this is to take the layer off and scoop out a bit of the filling.  Ugh.  Still have yet to do this.

So the next step was to crumb coat the cake, which is basically spreading a thin layer of buttercream icing over the entire cake.  The purpose of doing so is to catch any crumbs that will lift up into the icing in this layer so that there won't be any crumbs in your final icing layer.  You do so using a slightly thinner buttercream icing (I added 2 more tablespoons of milk (for a total of 4 tbsp.) to the Wilton buttercream icing).

I watched this this video to learn how to properly crumb coat without getting too many crumbs everywhere. 

And then the cake was taken to Heather's and put in the freezer.  

We made a few fondant decorations last week.  This week, we are learning to cover the cake in fondant and add the decorations.  Can't wait to make Miss Maddykins' first birthday cake next month!!


Ashley said...

Mmmm... I would gladly eat it if I could :

Kristy said...

I had the same thought Ashley!

Kristy said...

also, i'm kinda jealous that there are going to be gorgeous cakes at the party and Ashley Farrar and I won't be able to eat them. And I can't really think of a cake I can make that we both can eat!