How to Bake & Frost a Cake

Get step-by-step instructions for making a luscious layer cake with rich and creamy frosting.


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Classic Cake

    Nothing marks a special day quite like a cake. On the following slides, we'll show you how to make a three-layer cake that's sure to make any celebration delightfully sweet.

Makes: 16 servings
Prep   25 mins 
Bake   30 mins  to  35 mins  350°F 
Stand   30 mins 
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Separate the Eggs

    First, separate the eggs using an egg separator or by passing the egg back and forth between the egg shell halves. Allow the egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes (reserve yolks for another use).

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Butter the Pans

    Meanwhile, butter three 8 X 1 1/2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper by placing the bottom of the pan over the parchment paper and tracing it with a pencil. Cut out the rounds and fit into the pans.

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Flour the Pans

    Butter the parchment paper and lightly flour the pans. Gently tap the sides of the pans to shake out the excess flour.

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Begin Mixing the Batter

    In a medium bowl stir together the dry ingredients -- flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high for 30 second. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until well combined.

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Add the Eggs

    Add egg whites all at once. Beat on medium-high speed for three minutes to thoroughly incorporate the eggs into the butter mixture.

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Incorporate Remaining Ingredients

    Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low after each addition just until combined and scraping down the bowl as needed.

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Pour Batter into Pans

    Divide the batter among the prepared pans. If you do not have three pans, refrigerate remaining batter until you're ready to use it. With an offset spatula spread batter even in the pans. Bake cake as directed.

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Begin Cooling

    When the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool slightly in the pan. Run a spatula around the cake edges to loosen the sides. Turn it out onto a cooling rack.

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Finish Cooling

    Peel the parchment paper from the bottom and allow it to cool completely. Cooling makes the cake easier to frost because it has a chance to set up and won't crumble as you frost it. A cool cake also won't melt the frosting.

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Assemble the Layers

    To avoid crumbs in your frosting, brush cake layers with a pastry brush before assembling. Spread about half a cup of frosting over the first layer, then carefully top with the next layer. Repeat until cake is assembled.

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Add the Crumb Coat

    Next, add a "crumb coat" by spreading a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake. Your technique doesn't have to be perfect -- this step is to keep cake crumbs out of the frosting. Let stand for 30 minutes to set up before adding the final layer of frosting.

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Finish Frosting the Cake

    Using an offset spatula or butter knife, generously spread remaining frosting over the top and down the sides of the cake, swirling as you go. Once the cake is frosted, go back and add swirls as desired.

Serving size: about 4-1/2 cups
Prep   10 mins 
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Serve the Cake

    Once the cake is frosted, top with candles or decorate as desired. Serve the cake within two hours or refrigerate to store.

Makes: 16 servings
Prep   25 mins 
Bake   30 mins  to  35 mins  350°F 
Stand   30 mins 
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Try it with Chocolate

    Use the cake making skills you just learned to make our best-ever chocolate cake recipe too. Top it with our Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting or Vanilla Sour Cream Frosting.

Makes: 16 servings
Prep   30 mins 
Stand   30 mins 
Bake   30 mins  to  35 mins  350°F 
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