Learn how to make the quintessential layer cake. I’ll teach you how to build a 4 layer cake that looks professional and elegant with no wonky layers or lopsided frosting.
Unlike almost every page of Baking Sense, this post is not centered on a single recipe, but rather illustrates how to assemble a beautiful 4-layer cake. No separating layers, no unsightly brown edges and no lopsided cakes.
You can decorate the cake or do a casual “Betty Crocker” swirl. Either way your guests will be impressed.
How to build a 4 Layer Cake
- Gather your tools for building a layer cake.
- A cake turntable is not necessary for building a layer cake, but it makes it much easier.
- A long serrated knife is needed for trimming and torting the cake.
- You’ll use an offset spatula and a bench scraper for icing the cake, although you can certainly ice a cake with any type of spatula or even a butter knife.
- A pastry bush is used for brushing a layer of flavorful syrup on the cake layers. This is not a mandatory step but does keep the cake moist and flavorful.
- The brown crust on a cake that’s eaten without icing, like a pound cake, can be quite nice. But the crust can get gummy within an iced cake.
- Start by using your serrated knife to trim off the domed tops of each cake. By cutting off the domed top of the cake you’ll end up with a beautifully level and symmetrical cake that is as lovely to see as it is to eat.
- Hold the cake on it’s side and use a steady sawing motion to trim the brown edges from the sides of the cake.
- Flip the cake over and trim the brown bottom crust. You have a nicely trimmed cake.
- Split each cake in two (this is called “torting) for a total of four layers.
- Torting the layers creates a more balanced bite of cake with even layers of cake and filling rather than two thick layers of cake and one layer of filling.
- Place your cake layers on a cardboard cake circle or on a serving plate. If you are using a cake turntable set the cake onto the turntable. Gather your frosting and syrup if you are using one.
- Brush the first layer of cake with syrup. In the bowl, separate the frosting into about 2 equal portions. Use 1/3 of one portion for the first layer.
- Spread the frosting so it is even on the layer.
- Continue with the other 3 layers, reserving about half the total frosting for icing the cake.
- Start by covering the sides of the cake. Spin the turntable as you apply a thick layer of frosting.
- Cover the top of the cake with the rest of the frosting. Spread so the top frosting meets the sides.
- Use your spatula to swirl the frosting on the sides of the cake into a pretty pattern. Spin the turntable as you go. Try to keep the sides of the cake straight and you frost.
- Swirl the frosting on the top of the cake, spinning the turntable as you swirl to get an even layer.
- If you’d like to smooth-ice the cake like you see in a bakery, watch this video that shows how to ice a cake like a pastry chef.
- No turntable? No problem. You can use the same technique with the cake on a plain plate. Just turn the plate like you would the turntable. It’s not quite as easy without a turntable, but it does work.
- Use the edge of a bench scraper or a butter knife to scrape away the excess frosting around the bottom of the cake as you spin the turntable.
- Transfer the cake to a serving platter or cake stand.
Watch the video to see how to assemble a 4 layer cake:
If you find this information helpful, I’d love a 5-star review
How-to: Build a 4 Layer Cake
- Trim the sides, bottom and top of each cake then split the cakes in 1/2 horizontally so you have 4 layers.
- Flip the cakes so that the flat side of one cake is facing the bottom and the flat side of the other cake is on top,
- Divide the buttercream in 1/2, reserve one 1/2 for icing the cake, use the remaining for filling
- Place the bottom layer on your cardboard cake circle or serving platter. Brush the layer generously with rum syrup,
- Place 1/3 of the filling buttercream on the layer and spread it evenly to the edges. Repeat with the next three layers.
- Ice the sides and top of the cake with the reserved buttercream.
- Serve at room temperature
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.