Thursday, June 28, 2012

Food : How To Fill & Frost A Cake

Last summer my mom and her sisters thought it would be fun to take a cake decorating class with their daughters.  So us girls pulled out our aprons, purchased our cake decorating kits and committed several week nights to honing our skills.

I'm by no means a pro, but I certainly learned a thing or two {or ten!} and I was reminded last weekend that practice makes perfect {hubby's birthday cake}.  While I was decorating, I thought it would be fun to do a post on filling and frosting a cake.  That was one of the most valuable things I learned last summer.   So here goes....  {Feel free to comment with questions if you have any. I'll do my best to answer.}

For hubby's bday cake I made a 6 inch gluten free chocolate cake and filled it with a raspberry filling and topped it with a homemade cream cheese frosting.  {you're salivating right?! I thought so. :)}  

The 6 inch cake pan is my absolute favorite!  Not only is it adorable and totally perfect for gifting a friend, but it's an easy and not so intimidating size to work with while learning to fill.  A 6 inch pan is a bit difficult to find in stores, so I ordered mine from amazon. {here}  When baking with a 6 inch pan, bake it at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 25 minutes.  {Be sure that your oven is at a legitimate 325 before inserting the cake and as tempting as it is to open the oven - don't touch that door! Let it completely bake for the required baking time.  This ensures you have a nice, fluffy cake every time.}

Use whatever size cake pan you'd like, I recommend something round for your first go at it.  Make your cake according to your recipe {I used a Duncan Hines Gfree Devils Cake box mix since I haven't found a great gluten free cake flour blend yet, and I doctored it up with a handful of semi sweet chocolate chips.}, thoroughly grease and flour your pan. {I use crisco - I know, gross.  But it's the best for guaranteeing your cake will completely come out of the pan.  I "flour" my pan with a thick layer of cocoa powder when baking a chocolate cake. I've used arrowroot powder or rice flour for a white cake.}  When baking time is up, remove from oven, transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.  I've learned the hard way to plan ahead.  There's nothing worse than spending lots of time and energy {and love} on a cake and then being rushed to decorate it and it's either a melty mess, lop sided, or sloppy.  I try to bake my cake the day before I need it.  

For my filling I used half a jar of store bought raspberry preserves with seeds {they look so pretty and fruity}.  You can use jam, preserves or even frosting - fruit preserves are usually my filling of choice.  

To make your filling use your preserve of choice + 1 tablespoon of butter.  Melt in a sauce pan over low heat, stir constantly.  Once it's a nice consistency, remove from heat and set aside.

Make your frosting.  My absolute favorite frosting is a classic cream cheese frosting.  Crisco based frosting is disgusting {in my opinion} but is amazing for decorating with, so I will occasionally make a batch of this for details such as flowers, but I usually douse my cakes in a nice, thick layer of cream cheese frosting.  Here's my go to recipe:

1 8 oz Package Cream Cheese, Room Temp
1/2 C Salted Sweet Cream Butter, Softened
2 C Powdered Sugar 
1 t Vanilla {be sure to use clear vanilla if you want a pure white cake}

Combine in a mixer and mix until smooth.  

With a spatula, fill a piping bag with your frosting and set aside till ready to use.  

I have a featherweight cake decorating bag and decorating tips that I use for frosting.  If you don't have those, a large plastic ziploc will do the job.  Fill the bag, snip a corner tip off {not too much} and twist the top of the bag.

If you only baked one cake and wish to cut into two halves so that you can fill it, you must cut the cake evenly.  This can be tricky.  Once again your cake must be completely cooled.  I have this nifty little cake slicer that gives me an even cut every time {and can be used to shave off the top of my cake if it's rounded}.  A large, sharp knife may be used as well, it's just a little more difficult to get an even slice.  

Cut your cake into two {unless you baked two cakes - if that's the case, even the tops and make them flat}.  Use your most even side for the top of the cake {if you can't get an even cut, turn the cake upside down and use the bottom side, this will be your top piece}.   

Ok now we're ready to fill & frost!

The trick to getting your filling to stay in the center of your cake and not ooze all over the sides or into your frosting is to create a barrier with your frosting first.  {I forgot this step as you can see in this pic.  I was so excited to get that filling on that I completely skipped this step.  Thank goodness I remembered and had plenty of room on the sides to correct my mistake.  

Move the bottom half of your cake to the cake stand or plate you wish to serve it on.  {You can see in a pic below that my cake stand is sitting on top of another white rotating cake stand.  This is similar to a lazy suzan (which would work perfectly if you have one lying around), and is used to turn your cake easily while decorating.  Or you may purchase one here.}  

With your bag of frosting, frost the edge of the cake with at least two layers of frosting.  {This is still a necessary step if you're filling your cake with frosting.}

Next, spoon desired amount of filling onto center and spread with a spatula.

Now carefully place your top half of cake on top.

With your piping bag, pipe frosting onto the top and sides of the cake and smooth with a flat spatula.  Let sit before decorating.  The frosting will "dry" {or somewhat harden} if you allow it to sit and will be much easier to decorate.  

A handy little tip for achieving a flat surface is let your cake "dry" and then with parchment or wax paper, lay on top and gently smooth with a light rolling pin or flat spatula.  If your frosting cracks, gently smooth it out and let it dry again.  

Viola!  You have a beautifully filled and frosted cake ready for decorating!  Mine's not perfect, but like I said practice makes perfect.  

I hope this was helpful to you!  Happy frosting!!

- all images via danya collyer. 
Please do not use without permission.


  1. Those pictures are mouthwatering, and I love the detailed instructions!

  2. A tip for cutting a cake evenly if you don't have a fancy cutter is to place toothpicks around the edges in the center to use as a guide for you knife! Looks delicious!

  3. I love it, Danya! You are so talented, and adorable :)

  4. Thanks Melanie and Sarah!!

    Chantal - That's a great tip! Thanks for sharing. :)


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