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How to Make a Layer Cake

Prep work is key to a sturdy, pretty layer cake. Check out our secrets to this cake-decorating technique, including how to level the cake layers and how to keep a clean cake platter.

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-I??m Sue with Better Homes and Gardens. When we frost a layer cake here in our test kitchen for photos, we follow a few basic steps for prepping the cake beforehand. Let me show you our secrets to success. First, we always begin by leveling or crowning each layer. To do this, hold a serrated knife parallel to the work surface and using a gentle sawing motion cut off the rounded dome. This will help keep all the layer straight and level when they??re stacked. Next, put a small amount of icing right in the middle of your cake platter. It will act as a kind of glue so your cake doesn??t slide around as you frost it. And here??s our secret for keeping your cake plate clean and frosting free. Before you put the first layer down, place 4 strips of wax or parchment paper along the edges of the plate to form an empty square then position the cake in the center to cover the square. When you??re finished frosting, you can just pull the strips away. Now using your pastry bag filled with icing, make a border and then fill it in with more icing using an offset spatula. This border is just one more insurance for the perfectly leveled cake. Finally, add the second layer making sure the layers are aligned. If adding a 3rd level, repeat with a border of icing filling in the center and then adding the final layer. The cake is now ready to be frosted. These are behind the scenes secrets to success for beautiful photo worthy cakes. It all starts with the prep.