How to Make a Cake

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 Today, I'm going to show you how to make a cake! If you are new to making or decorating cakes, this video is a great place to start.

What You Will Learn

In this video, we'll show you how to successfully mix & bake a cake, how to wrap and freeze cake layers, trim cake layers, & settle the cake.

Then, I'll show you how to apply the crumb coat & pipe a simple ruffled buttercream design.

We'll show you key baking and cake decorating tips and tricks that will help you to become a better baker and cake decorator!

You can apply most of these methods to any cake that you are preparing. Have fun experimenting!

Part One: Mix, Bake, Freeze

Part Two: Settle, Crumb Coat, Decorate

Materials: How to Make a Cake

We used this White Almond Sour Cream Cake Recipe (which uses the conventional creaming method)

Buttercream (our classic vanilla buttercream and fluffy vanilla buttercream are both good options)

Cake Pans (Today, we used two 8 inch cake pans)

Digital Scale (optional but helpful)

Wilton 104 piping tip

Cardboard cake circle

Recipe FAQs

The layers are done when they spring back when the center is lightly touched...or the toothpick test comes out clean (or with just a few crumbs.)

After removing the cake layers from the oven, place pans on elevated wire rack for about 10-15 minutes before flipping cake layers onto the foil-wrapped cardboard cake circles. (we wrap the cake boards so that we can re-use them later)

We wrap and freeze cake layers all the time. This will allow you to work well in advance, as wrapped layers stay fresh for up to three months in the freezer!

As an added bonus, when the layers are wrapped while still slightly warm, we find that it makes them even more moist!

To freeze, allow the cake layers to cool down to slightly warm (or room temperature). Then, wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil. Freeze up to three months.

To thaw, move the layers, still wrapped, to the kitchen counter. Allow to thaw for 30-45 minutes before unwrapping. Thaw to desired amount for decorating. Some decorators prefer to assemble their cakes while the layers are still partially frozen. They are less fragile this way.

We usually do not need to trim our cake layers on top or around the sides. Our scratch cakes rarely bake up with a dome, and we use the same pans for all of our layers.

However, sometimes it is necessary to do a little trimming to make things level. Using a serrated knife, level the domes off of the cake layers if needed. You may find it helpful to slowly rotate the cake layer on a turntable while you hold your knife steady and cut away the excess. (Some decorators use cake levelers for this.)

Also, when the cake layers are filled and stacked, you may see areas on the side of the cake that need a bit more trimming to even things out. Gently trim with a serrated knife as needed.

Place bottom cake layer on cake board, add filling filling or frosting. If you are using a very soft filling like whipped cream, it is a good idea to pipe a frosting dam first.   

You can do this by adding buttercream to a disposable piping bag and snipping the tip away. Outline the top of the cake layer (about ¼ inch from the edge). Then add your filling within the dam.

Repeat for your remaining cake layers.

Settling the cake is an optional step but one that we find to be helpful in preventing the bulges of frosting around the sides of the cake that can appear over time. This is especially noticeable when your cake is frosted with a smooth finish (rather than a design with lots of texture or piping). 

To settle your cake, wrap the filled, unfrosted tier with plastic wrap & apply a weight to the top. This should add a light, steady pressure over the top of the cake.

The weight could be a smallish book or a cake pan or two. Settle the tier for at least three hours or overnight. If your cake filling is perishable, do the settling step in the refrigerator.

*When I am not going to settle the cake, I will at least gently push down a few times on top of the cake (light, steady pressure). I think of it as "speed settling".

After filling and assembling your cake layers (and settling if you are doing that step), we apply a thin layer of frosting all over the cake. This "catches the crumbs". If you are completely covering the cake with piping (ruffles, rosettes, etc), go ahead with that step right after the crumb coat, so that the piping will easily attach.

However, if you are not covering the cake with piping, we recommend chilling the cake for 15 minutes in the freezer (or longer in the refrigerator) to firm everything up before applying the final coat of frosting.

In today's tutorial, we used the Conventional Creaming method which involves creaming the butter and sugar, adding the eggs, and then alternating between dry & wet ingredients (beginning and ending with the dry ingredients/flour mixture).

Most of our recipes use this mixing method and its likely the method that you are most used to.

This is thought by some to be a more forgiving technique than the reverse creaming (although I like both). I find that cakes that use this method are often a bit fluffier than cakes that use the reverse creaming method.

The Reverse Creaming method (also known as the hi-ratio or two stage mixing method) is used in our recipes from time to time.

The ingredients are the same, but are added in a different order. With this method, the dry ingredients and the sugar are mixed first. Then the fats and a portion of the liquids are combined with the dry ingredients, followed by the remaining liquids.

The result is a velvety cake with a finer crumb. **The Reverse Creaming method is meant for recipes that have a greater amount of sugar than flour (by weight).

A few examples of reverse creaming method recipes are our Chocolate Cake from scratch, Yellow Cake from scratch, and Orange Dreamsicle Cake.

We highly recommend using a digital scale when making our recipes. We include the gram weight for this reason.

For the most accurate results, weigh your ingredients. This is especially helpful when it comes to measuring flour.

If you do not have a digital scale, you can still get a pretty accurate measurement by lightly spooning the flour into a measuring cup, and gently removing the excess with a knife. However, a scale makes the process much faster.

*Just remember to zero out the scale once you've place the bowl onto it.

Thanks for Stopping By!

Thanks so much for stopping by, we hope that you enjoyed the video! Now that you know how to make a cake, we hope you'll have fun experimenting with different recipes, cake designs, and more!

Don't miss our huge collection of hundreds of cake recipes and free cake decorating tutorials!

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27 Comments

  1. Hi Ethel Ann, Yes, the recipe does have 1 teaspoon of almond extract. It is listed in the recipe is in the recipe section, but was left out of the above recipe link, I'll make that correction. I am not a fan of almond flavoring that must be why I left it off as you would do if you wanted a vanilla cake. I am sorry about that, thank you for letting us know

  2. I am having a real problem with my cakes sinking in the middle. I researched this and found that opening the oven door can cause this and over mixing can do this so I make sure that I don't do either. I am baking the WASC into 8" and 6" pans at 350. I am not doing the reverse creaming method. I would really appreciate any help. I don't know how to fix this. It also happens with the chocolate recipe. ???

  3. Hi Terri, Well, I am sure this is so frustrating for you! Have you checked your oven temperature? I think you might need to buy an oven thermometer to see if you oven is actually heating to the temperature you have set. Let us know how it goes.

  4. Hi Bebe, thanks for your response. I do have an oven thermometer and my temp is 350. I baked 2 8" and 2 6" cakes. All 4 sank in the middle. It happens most of the time. My cakes never done. The cake mixes aren't expired. Do you think I should just use flower nails? Bake at a lower temp? The cakes look fine till they are almost ready to come out then they sink. Errrrr! I end up with half to 2/3s of a pan once I level.

  5. Hi Terri, OK, that is good, it is not the oven temperature. I thought your cakes were sinking after being taken from the oven. Sinking while still baking and almost done is not as typical a problem. I did some research and the most common reason for the cake to sink in the center during baking is too much flour. You are baking the WASC using a cake mix, right? When I measure the flour I lightly spoon the flour into the cup then level it off using the back of a knife. If you dip the measuring cup into the flour container and scoop out the flour you will be packing more flour into the cup than needed. Do you think that could be the issue? Another reason is not enough liquid to the amount of dry ingredients in the recipe but I thought since you are using a cake mix, this is probably not the cause. Let me know.

  6. Thanks a lot .I have learned a lot of new things and I will put it in practice.

  7. After reading this article, I could not stop to myself from making it. So i prepared it. It was too yummy!!!!
    Thanking You!!!!!

  8. I'm so amazing at what I saw on your blog,was searching for a nice site where i can bake a cake when i came across your blog. Your steps areeasy and simple to understandable.
    Thanks for creating this site.

  9. Hie Melissa I can't get access to the videos Fr making the cake from scratch and the strawberry cake