Article by Natalie Kelly Brown, Marian Cooper Cairns
Your layer cakes are ready for an encore with our secrets, tips, and a favorite tool.
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Frost It Right
We strongly believe that if something tastes great, it should look great too. Follow these easy steps for presentation perfection.
Step 1: Place one cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Gently slide pieces of parchment paper under edges of cake. Spoon about 1/2 cup buttercream frosting onto the bottom layer; push to edge leaving a 1/2-inch border. A swiveling cheese board is a great substitute if you don’t have a revolving cake stand.
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Place second layer on top of frosted cake. Spoon a good amount of frosting on the top of the cake.
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Spread frosting to the edge and down the sides of cake with a spatula or knife using a sweeping motion. Before serving, remove and discard parchment paper.
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About the Tool
The Test Kitchen loves this handy gadget called an offset spatula. The angled steel blade is flexible enough to keep your hands free of frosting and is perfect for spreading batter in a pan. They range in length from 6 to 14 inches. Our best advice is to use one that feels the most comfortable in your hand. Prices range from less than $10 to more than $30. This useful utensil is also called a bent icing knife.
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Try this clever serving idea for petits fours at your next party. Place each little cake in a shallow bowl or on a small plate, and then cover it with a clear wineglass turned upside down. The glass will keep the cake moist all during dinner, and the effect is guaranteed to draw as many rave reviews as the recipe itself. Match bowl colors to icing for a coordinated look.
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Cake flour is soft wheat flour with low protein content. What does this mean to a novice baker? It’s more forgiving than all-purpose flour. If you accidentally overmix the batter, the cake’s texture won’t be tough after baking. Less gluten is developed, and for cakes this is a critical factor―it means a soft, tender crumb. Cake flour also is bleached, which explains its very bright, white appearance.
If you use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, reduce the amount of flour called for by 2 Tbsp. per cup. Or make your own version of cake flour by whisking together 3/4 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 Tbsp cornstarch for each cup of cake flour.