Layer Cakes – Decadent Desserts That Feed a Crowd

When it comes to decadent desserts that feed and impress a crowd, layer cakes are hard to beat. They add height and visual impact to a buffet spread and offer an elegance that you can’t get from sheet cakes.


A Moda Fabric Layer Cake contains a set of 42 fabrics, each 10 inches square. Learn how to use this specialty cut of fabric to create stunning designs that you can’t accomplish with strips alone.


A layer cake is a dessert consisting of multiple stacked sheets of cakes, held together by frosting or other types of filling, such as jam. It is commonly made for snack time or for once-in-a-lifetime events such as weddings. Regular sponge or butter cakes are commonly used in making layer cakes, but just about any cake recipe can be transformed into a layer cake.

Unlike a single-layer cake, a tiered layer cake serves more people because the portions are larger. The number of servings can vary depending on the shape and size of the cake, and it’s easy to get a good idea of how much a particular cake will serve by looking at its ingredients list.

For an elegant look, this simple layer cake has layers of fluffy German chocolate cake topped with creamy coconut-pecan frosting. A sprinkle of poinsettia cookies makes it perfect for the holidays, but you can decorate it with any flower or color that suits your occasion.

This is a classic American version of a layer cake that was popularized in Appalachia where store-bought sugar was scarce. By substituting homemade jams and berries for the sugar, these cakes offered rich flavors that sugar alone could not provide. This simple recipe is sure to impress guests and seal your reputation as a baker.


The filling portion of a Layer cake is what goes between the layers. This can be anything from frosting to mousse, ganache, fruit preserves, whipped cream, or even pudding! The options are endless, and can really make or break the flavor of your cake.

The best way to get a smooth, even filling is to use either a buttercream or whipped cream frosting. This is because these types of frostings are more stable and will hold up to the weight of the other ingredients inside.

If you’re making a traditional cake with multiple layers, you’ll want to trim the tops of each layer and torte it (if needed) so it will be flat. This will help to ensure that the cakes are even and will stack well. It also helps to have the filling ready before you start assembling the cake so that it can cool down and set.

For example, if you are using lime curd as your filling, you’ll want to prepare it in advance by chilling it. This will allow the curd to set up and will prevent it from leaking down over the sides of your cake when you add the next layer.

Once you’ve filled your cake, you’ll need to let it set for several hours before adding the outer covering of icing. This process is called’setting’ and will help prevent icing ridges around the cake and buttercream blowouts.


A layer cake’s frosting is what really takes it to the next level, says Menzies. “It’s like the icing on your favorite little black dress—you can make it casual or fancy.” Fresh flowers are always a great way to go, while lots of intricate piping or even a fondant wrapper can elevate a simple cake to something more dramatic.

Before adding the final layer of frosting, build a crumb coat on the entire cake. This is a thin coating of frosting used to smooth out the shape of the cake, lock in any stray crumbs, and give you a clean canvas to work with before you add the final layer. This step is essential if you plan to cover the whole cake in fondant, as it will prevent any crumbs from transferring to the smooth surface.

After you’ve applied your crumb coat, let it chill for an hour or so. This will give the frosting a chance to firm up, making it easier to smooth out with a spatula.

Once your crumb coat is set, you can begin assembling the layers of your cake. Place your first layer on a flat cake board (or plate, if you prefer). If you’re using a soft filling like fruit preserves or lemon curd between the cakes, be sure to build a frosting dam around the edge of this layer before adding your fillings to keep it from leaking out the sides as you add other layers.


A cake isn’t complete without some decorations. You can add anything from flowers to a simple sprinkle coating to make your cake look spectacular. Before you begin decorating, make sure the cakes are completely cool. This will prevent the frosting from melting or sticking to the cake while you decorate.

To prepare the cake, line the bottom of each pan with a circle of parchment paper or round silicone baking mats. You can also use bake-even strips, which go around the outside of the pans to help each layer bake evenly and with a minimal dome.

Next, stack the layers and spread with frosting. You can use any flavor of frosting you like, but buttercream is a classic choice that’s easy to work with. If you’re worried about piping swirls or other details, practice on a piece of paper first. If you’re making a wedding cake, consider adding a few well-placed edible embellishments like cookies, fresh fruit or dragees (decorative sugar balls in various shapes and colors).

After you’ve added all the layers and fillings, cover with plastic wrap and chill the whole thing for several hours. This process, called’setting’, helps the cake settle and keeps it from developing icing ridges or buttercream blowouts while you’re working on it. If your cake is taller, you can also place wooden dowels or big straws through the layers to keep it standing up straight.