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When you join two halves of sponge cake (as in this photo) which way round are you supposed to do it? The instructions I've used seem to assume what comes out of your two cake tins are two fairly even, level cakes.

In my case I always get quite domed results.

Am I supposed to

a) squish the top one down on top of the bottom and disguise the poor join with filling

OR

b) turn the bottom one over, for a good join, but a wobbly cake, but sort of works if you firm the bottom one down

OR

c) cheat and slice off the dome of the bottom cake

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I've actually done some cake decorating (non-professional, but I did take a few classes), and I'll go with an option you didn't give:

  • Only bake one cake and split it in half (reduce the temperature of the oven, longer time, and if necessary, use cooling strips).You'll likely need taller pans for this -- you'll want light colored aluminum, 3" high for most general purposes. (dark pans absorb heat too quickly, so the sides set before it's risen properly). Level the cake (trim the domed-ness of the cake off), and stack the cake upside down, so you have the nice cake-pan edge on the top layer.

If the cake is too far domed, trimed it down some and save the removed bit. Stack the cakes (again, upside down), crumb coat it, and take the removed cake, crumble it up into some icing, and then pipe that as a sort of filler around the bottom of the cake. to make up the gap.

If you're going to be filling the cake with something like a pudding or custard, stack the first layer like your answer C, pipe a ring of icing around the edge to hold it in, fill the custard in, then stack what had originally been the bottom of the cake (again, upsde down). But make sure to make it thick enough in consistency, and thin enough in height -- I had an incident once where it formed a slip-plane, and the cake started ejecting the top layer off of slices.

To level the cake, you have two options -- they make special devices for doing it, which is basically a wire cutter on adjustable legs, that you can pull through the cake at a fixed height. (also works for splitting the cake so you can then fill and stack it), but if you have a good long knife, a fairly steady hand, and a turn-table, you can:

  • put the cake on the turn table.
  • holding the knife steady, spin the cake and move the knife slowly in towards the center.

I find that a plastic cutting mat works pretty well to help get in there and take the layers of cake off after you've split them.

If you're going to be stacking cakes very tall, you'll want to use a pound cake recipe, or augment a boxed cake mix -- add in a box of instant pudding to firm up the resultant cake.

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1  
Another way to cut that I have used is either thread or dental floss. Circle the cake, then slowly pull through. Makes a nice clean and even cut. –  sdg Aug 14 '10 at 19:47
    
@sdg : as the thread isn't going to leave as clean of a cut, I'd recommend taking a pastry brush and sweeping of any loose crumbs you might get from it, so they don't get in your icing. (the crumb coat can only do so much) –  Joe Aug 15 '10 at 8:02

I use option b but with two slight differences. To get less domed cakes in the first place I spread the mixture out in the tin and create a slight dip in the mixture before it goes in. I then cool my cakes dome down on the cake rack which seems to make the dome less pronounced.

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Most cake decoraters I know use option three. I don't know why you would consider paring a cake down into the size and shape you want to be cheating, as that's how all those awesomely accurate occasion cakes are done.

You can also cut down on the doming by using a silicon spatula and pressing the batter up the sides a bit and leaving an indentation in the middle.

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This is also what I was thinking (option c), until I read Joe's answer. If Joe's isn't doable (too much extra hardware to buy, etc..), I like your response and additional ideas. –  Chad Aug 14 '10 at 3:07
    
@Chad : you don't have to buy extra pans, or even a piping bag (if you're willing to fold wax paper, and possibly get messy if it goes wrong) If you're going to use two pans, lower the heat by 25F / ~14C degrees, level them both, and probably stack them top-sides together (so the top layer is upside down, but not the bottom layer), and sort of spackle in any gap w/ icing. But I wouldn't skimp on a turn-table (I use a lazy susan I got for maybe $10), as it'll let you turn the cake while holding the spatula still as you smooth the sides. –  Joe Aug 14 '10 at 3:32
    
@chad joe's answer is going to give you much more consistent results. Mine was more the lazy cook that hates baking answer. Basically, use joe's for professional results, only use mine when you are doing a cake on the quick. –  sarge_smith Aug 14 '10 at 4:51

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