I am no expert. But cakes are my favorite item to both make and eat, and I have learned a little during my adventures about putting one together.
In the past month, I was hired to make two cakes (!!!!!). Coincidently, both of them were black forest, so I know my way around a black forest cake pretty well as of now, even though I’ve never tried the flavor. But anyway. Since it’s a bit of a complex cake to put together, I thought it was a prime oppurtunity to share my notes on cake assembly.
If you make a lot of cakes, you may want to invest in a rotating cake stand and a 13 inch angled spatula, which are both extremely helpful in frosting a cake. I took a Wilton course so I have their whole cake decorating set, one that includes everything I’ll ever need to decorate anything. But that’s not really necessary. A few couplers and decorating tips would be helpful, if you want to be fancy. Also, I always use a cake circle underneath the cake to present it.
The first step I always take is to smear a dab of frosting into the center of the cake circle, which sits on the cake stand. This frosting will glue the cake to the cake circle and keep it from sliding. Then I take four strips of foil and arrange them around this dab. The cake will sit on the edges of the strips, to keep the circle clean, and will be pulled out later. Carefully take your first layer of cake and sit in on the frosting so it is centered.
If your cake has a filling, like the cherry filling in a black forest cake, fill a piping bag with the frosting you are using or a quarter batch of vanilla buttercream. Pipe a ring around the outside of the cake. This ring of frosting will act as a dam to keep the filling from spilling out the sides of the cake. If you are just putting frosting between the layers, spread on a good amount.
Either way, carefully place the next layer atop the first. Take the piping bag and frost the crack between the cake layers, if there is one. This is where the rotating cake stand comes in handy.
See how I frosted the empty space between the layers? I usually flatten it with my spatular afterwards.
Repeat the filling process for every layer until you reach the top.
Here, you may wish to crumb cumb the cake- meaning spread on a very thin coating of frosting to seal the crumbs to the cake. Place the cake in the fridge for fifteen minutes after doing this to let the frosting set.
Some people say to frost the sides first, but I frost the top. I’m not so sure it matters. Use your angled spatula to frost the entire top, and then the sides of the cake. To make it smooth, keep a tall glass of hot water next to you as you work and dip your spatula in it to clean it, wiping it with a paper towel after. Or, after the cake has been frosted, place a piece of parchment paper on the top and run your spatula across it. Lift it carefully, and the frosting should be smooth.
Then decorate the cake any way you like!
I usually do a border on the bottom and something on the sides, and little puffs on top using tip #21. On the black forest cake I sprinkle shaved chocolate on top and press it between designs on the sides. Also, if you’re decorating, the frosting does not need to be completely smooth! Which is a plus.
After you finish all the decorations, carefully pull the foil from beneath the cake. Store it in the refrigerator overnight, covered, or in the freezer if you are keeping it for more than a few days.
I hope this helped some of you having trouble putting together cakes. When I first started baking, I had no idea what to do, but I’ve learned tips from various sites and from the Wilton class I took. Practice is a big factor, so keep baking and don’t be discouraged if it’s not perfect!