Putting the cakes together
I'm going to start off by saying up front that I really underestimated how much work would go into making two party-worthy cakes that would look even half as good as they would taste! In doing so, I had zero time to take pictures of the process, so I'll give you links to some blogs that
made this process go 100 times smoother than if i just faked my way along i used as resources- they have fantastic step by step photos for cake assembly and decorating! I relied heavily on Smitten Kitchen's page of Cake Layer tips. I don't think I would have ever thought of most of these tips on my own. Like the wax paper strips to keep your cake boards clean...genius!
The assembly and decorating was the fun (albeit time consuming- 8 very long and messy hours) part of this process. I made my cake layers a few days before the actual reception, and I used a flash freezing method to freeze them. I've never frozen cake before, and honestly, I think it made the cakes even better!
To flash freeze: Each layer needs to be in the freezer, unwrapped, for 30-45 minutes or until it is solid. I put the cakes in the freezer on the cooling racks still in the pans for about 15 minutes, then turned the layers out onto plastic wrap on the cooling rack and threw the whole rack back in the freezer for the 30-45 minutes. At that point, I wrapped each layer in 3 layers of plastic wrap, and placed them back in the freezer separated by cake boards.
When it came time to assemble and decorate my cakes, I made my fillings first so that they could chill if necessary while I was making the buttercream. The assembly part isn't difficult, but I did find another great tip that worked wonders to keep the filling out of the buttercream. Savory Sweet Life's How to Frost a Cake post, while it sounds obvious, was an absolute lifesaver! SSL's site will be much more helpful to you than mine will be!
Here's the short and sweet instruction list:
- Use a cake board with a dollop of frosting in the center to hold your bottom layer in place.
- Place wax (or parchment) paper strips under the cake layer to protect your cake board.
- Unwrap the first frozen cake layer, and place it on the cake board.
- Level the cake with a serrated knife, if necessary. (This is SO easy with frozen cake!)
- Brush top of cake with a sugar water mixture. Bakerella clued me into this, and i think this added another excellent dimension to my cakes.
- Pipe a 1/2 " dam of frosting around the top of the cake (check out the Savory Sweet Life page)
- Pour or spoon your filling into the dam, taking care not to spill over the edge.
- Unwrap second frozen layer, lightly placing on top of the first. Check placement from all sides- even though you used the same size pans, somehow the layers won't be uniform!
- Trim if necessary (Yay for frozen layers!)
- Push down on layer to make sure everything sticks together.
- Repeat above steps with 3rd layer.
- Once your cake is stacked, run an offset spatula around the edge- you'll have bits of your frosting dam that have squished out.
- Crumbcoat with a light layer of your frosting- this helps keep the crumbs where they need to be, and you've got a smoother surface to work with for your final layer of frosting.
- Refrigerate for 45 min- 1 hour to set frosting.
- When you can touch the cake without frosting sticking to your finger, it's ready for the final coat of frosting.
- Plop your frosting on top of the cake, and spread on top and down the sides. Add more if necessary. Smooth frosting around the sides with the offset spatula. Decorate any way that you'd like- I just played with the piping tips I had and improvised.
Here are the resources I used, again, for good measure. They're awesome- and have great pictures and more in depth instructions.
Bakerella's Sugar Water Spray ( The sugar water directions follow the yellow cake recipe)