How to Stack, Fill, and Layer a Cake like a Pro!

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Everyone loves those cakes with the extra smooth surface, sharp edges, and realistic edible decorations. But on the flip side of that, we all dislike the cakes that have lumps on the sides, crackled dry fondant, and no exact shape to it.

how to stack, fill, and layer a cake.

On countless occasions, I’ve tried to master the outward shape and appearance of cakes, not knowing that the actual structure of the cake will determine the outside appearance.

supplies used to level a cake

That’s when I decided to do things differently and created my own process to achieve the look that everyone is going for.

So let’s get started!

Tools used to crumb coat cakes:

  • Cake board
  • Serrated Knife or Cake Leveler
  • Buttercream
  • Fillings
  • Turntable
  • Non slip mat (for under cake board on turntable)
  • Cake scraper
  • Offset Spatula

Step 1: Leveling the cake

Leveling a cake layer is very simple and at the same time the most important step that will ultimately determine the overall look of your cake.  The first step to creating a solid structure for the cake is making sure each cake layer is flat and even.

It would be very difficult to fill a cake that has a domed top because it would not be stable enough to stack on top of each other. The cake would ultimately lean over.

leveling a cake by hand

Using a Serrated Knife, start by cutting at the edge of the cake and begin to gradually work your way towards the center of the cake, while rotating the turntable at the same time.

using wilton cake leveler to even cake layers.

If you are using a Cake Leveler, start but cutting at the edge and slowly work your way across the cake towards the opposite side, while keeping the cake leveler flat against the surface or your workspace.

Once you have completely leveled out each cake layer, you can either toss the domed tops of cake into the trash or use it to make cake pops, which are really delicious!

Step 2: Filling The Cake

After leveling each layer of cake, it’s now time to fill it with frosting. You can either start filling the cake or add simple syrup to the layers of cake before placing the filling on top of the cake layer. Simple syrup basically adds more moisture to your cake, but try not to add too much because it will make the cake soggy.

filling a cake with buttercream

Once the simple syrup has been added the cake, you can now start adding your fillings to the cake. This can either be frosting, curds, nuts, chocolate ganache, or anything you have in mind to enhance the flavor of the cake.

It’s best to add your fillings directly in the center of the cake and then pipe two rims of frosting around the edge of the layer of cake, just to prevent any of the filling from spilling out of the sides of the cake.

But if you happen to have some of it spill out on to the sides of the cake, it’s not the end of the world. I will explain more on this trick later on in this post.

Step 3: Stacking The Cake

Stacking a cake is pretty much like a sandwich, you have to start with the bread (cake) then you’ll add your spread, lettuce, tomatoes, meat and cheese (icing and fillings) and then to complete the sandwich you will add a slice of bread on top of everything that you added to the sandwich (cake).

adding buttercream to cake board to glue the cake to the cake board

So you will start by placing a small amount of frosting on the cake board and then place one cake layer on the cake board. The small dab of frosting that’s on the cake board will help the cake to stick to the cake board and prevent it from sliding. After you’ve put that first layer of cake down, you’ll add the simple syrup to the cake layer and then add your frosting.

stacking a cake

Once you’ve added the frosting, next you will add another layer of cake and continue with the same process as stated earlier. Once you’ve added all of your cake layers, then you’ll move on to crumb coating your cake.

Step 4: Crumb Coating The Cake

Crumb coating a cake after it has been filled is a very important step. This helps to keep all of the moisture in your cake. It also helps to stop the cake, especially chocolate and red velvet cakes, from crumbling and loosing their shape.

scraping off excess buttercream

So once you’ve layered and stacked your cake, you can start crumb coating the cake by adding buttercream to the cake around the edges and top of the cake. Once you’ve added enough frosting to the cake, begin smoothing out the frosting with a Cake Scrapper.

A crumb coated cake

After scraping off the excess amount of buttercream, you can now place your cake inside of the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This will allow the cake to crust over, creating a firm surface to add the final layer of buttercream to the cake.

As I stated earlier, If you have any fillings that have spilled out of the sides of the cake, after its been crumb coated and placed in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, you can use a piping bag to pipe an outside layer of frosting on the the cake to cover the filling that was showing. You can also just cover it in fondant as well.

rosette cake

At this point, before adding the final layer of buttercream to the cake, you can also leave the that first layer of buttercream (crumb coat) the way it is as a naked cake. Naked Cakes have become very popular over the past couple for years for all types of events, especially weddings.

You did! We Just Crumb Coated a Cake! 

Now that you have just learned how to crumb coat a cake, you can now move on to making some really awesome and delicious looking cakes.  You can either choose to add the final layer of buttercream, smooth it out and add different types of sprinkles, toppers, or fondant to your cake.

You can also try different types of piping techniques with piping tips to create rosettes, flowers, ruffles, and more. Whether you decide to have plain cake or add a fun texture to it like a Rosette Cake, always remember that practice makes perfect. It’s best to keep practicing and the more practice you have, you will be able to fill, stack and crumb coat a cake in your sleep.


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