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Newbie wishing to make a tiered cake for the 1st time
Posted: 26 February 2010 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hi everyone, I just started baking about 6 months ago so I am very new. I’ve been really excited about cakes and the beautiful decorations and the tiered cakes. So excited that I spend more time at work browsing recipes and cake decorations than working. Shhhh.

I own both the cake bible and the heavenly cake books and was thinking of making a 2-tiered cake for my cousin’s baptism from the beautiful pics in them. Is this too much for a newbie? I have 6-inch and 9-inch round pans and a 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Should I just make 2 stand-alone cakes instead? I was thinking of carrot cake, cheesecake, or white velvet, all of which my family love when I’ve made them.

How do I adjust the recipes for the different pan sizes? I have not thoroughly read the back of the cake bible on wedding cakes and still figuring out the chart on adjusting baking powder. If the carrot cake is at the bottom, would the cream cheese frosting be able to support the tier above it? Do I have to push the dowel all the way down until it touches the bottom of the cake? I feel like I am hurting the poor cake. If I am successful at making a tiered cake, how do we go about cutting it? Lastly, how much time should I allocate if the event is on a Sunday evening?

I apologize for my newness and questions.

-Kim

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Posted: 26 February 2010 01:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi Kim,

Welcome to the forum. You can do it - we all started at some point! What I did before my first big tiered cake is that I did it over and over and over, all with tiny little cakes, just to be sure.

So - when is the baptism? And how many people does the cake have to feed?

The cakes shouldn’t sit directly on top of each other, you’ll hurt them much more by doing that than by pushing straws through it. Once you start using cake rounds (cardboard round plates you use to hold the cake) you’ll never want to work without… I used the technique that’s described in the Cake Bible, following it word by word. It’s not that hard, really.

For cutting you’ll probably want to take them apart and then serve them. You can cut out a few pieces of the bottom cake to serve special guests, but then take it apart - much safer that way.

I’d give myself plenty of time, just to not get in a time crunch or nervous. You can probably bake everything leisurely the day before or even a few days before, and then slowly assemble and decorate. It depends a lot on the kind of cake and the kind of decoration you want to do.

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Posted: 26 February 2010 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Hi Kim, Welcome

I recently figured out how to make cakes using the charts in The Cake Bible.  I have not used the instructions on 494 although I think I probably can now.  I spent hours and hours and finally figured out what will work for a yellow, white or chocolate cake.  What I do works because I mix batter separately for each pan size (my oven will only hold so much). 

If baking a 6” white cake, refer to chart on p. 491.  This is white base cake. 
Refer to chart on page 490, find size of pan (6”).
Note that the Rose factor for 6” is 2.
Multiply the ingredients in the white base cake by 2. 
The baking powder amount is listed on p. 492 for white cake. 
For a 6” you need 1.5 tsps x 2. 

Follow the instructions to mix the batter as listed on p. 485. 

Note that the baking time is also listed in he chart on p. 490. The number of servings for a cake size is listed in the same chart.  These, however, are rather small (dainty) slices.  If you do not want to purchase new pans, and want to use the 6 and 9”, you therefore get 65 small slices. 

Repeat for your 9” pan.  (note that in the chart on p. 490 the 13” x 9” is for one layer and the baking times should be reversed for it and the 18 x 12.

Silke, and the other more experienced bakers here can probably help you figure out calculating for a cheesecake or carrot cake.  They also likely have more experience figuring out how many slices you really get for a delicious cake you are serving family.

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Posted: 26 February 2010 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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CR - thanks for the flowers, but I don’t make very many sponge cakes, and my Cake Bible has disappeared… So I can’t help with the adjustment of the baking powder, sorry.

Other than that, regarding the ingredients, if you go from i.e. a recipe for an 8” pan to a 6” pan you have to multiply the ingredients for the batter with (6x6)/(8x8)=36 / 64 = 0.56 to get the same height of cake. When I do that I write everything down in my cookbook so I don’t accidentally slip too much of one of the ingredients in. Patricia, Jenn or Carolita should chime in on the baking powder…

For the frosting, you’ll need more than that fraction because you have to frost the perimeter. If unsure just make too much, you can always put more on or freeze some for a future cake.

To get from an 8” round recipe to a 13” x 9” recipe you need to multiply by (13 x 9) / (4 x 4 x pi) = 117 / (16 x pi) = 117 / (16 x 3.14) = 2.33.  (in either case you need the ratio of the areas, but from round to round pan you can save a bit of brain power but leaving out the pi because it’s in both area calculations.  Here I would probably make 2x the frosting.

The Cordon Rose Cheese Cake is great, and you don’t have to worry about baking powder - LOL!

I sandwiched my cheesecake between layers of biscuit, using a recipe for a biscuit roulade and making it on the cookie sheet, that way it was very easy to cut to size, and I didn’t have to worry about pan sizes, and everything had the same height without any calculations - lazy me…

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Posted: 28 February 2010 12:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Thank you so much for your quick responses. The baptism is March 21st. I do not know the number of guests. If this is not enough time, then I will be practicing for a 1 year old’s birthday in June.

I was thinking of a 9-inch carrot cake w/ cream cheese frosting and a 6-inch white cake w/ mousseline frosting. My main concern is if the cream cheese frosting can support the weight of the cake on top of it. If I need extra, then I will add the Cordon Rose Cream Cheesecake as a standalone cake. I do not want scant tiny slices.

CRenee, thank you for the detailed instruction for the 6-inch cake. My oven is not big either so I will be preparing the batter for each pan separately as well. My 6-inch pan is actually 6"x3”. Would this affect my baking time? Do I still fill it about 1/2 and less than 2/3?

Silke, you’re great with the detail on how to change the ingredients for the pan size. I am new so just simple decoration, a cross, baby’s name, and baptism date. I am going to review the wedding cake section in more detail.

Unfortunately, I had unexpected visitors this weekend so was not able to do this. I’m waiting with all my strength to try it Monday night. I’m already thinking this through in my head and can’t wait to get back to the bible to review.

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Posted: 28 February 2010 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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TD, I don’t have any direct experience with tiered cakes, but if I understand correctly, the top tier does not rest directly on the bottom tier, but rather on straws that hold the tier just above the frosting of the lower cake.  So that should solve the problem of using the cream cheese frosting, which can be soft at warm termperatures.

Do you want the top tier to be the same height as the bottom tier?  That would be the customary way to do it, though there are a few very nicely designed cakes which vary the height.  Rose states that her recipes don’t work well for a 3” deep pan, so if you want to use the white velvet and you want the tiers to be the same height, you should buy or borrow a 6x2 pan (assuming your 9” pan is 9x2). 

One cake that would work in your pan is Miette’s Tomboy, from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes, which calls for exactly the pan you have (6x3), and it is paired with vanilla mousseline, which matches the frosting you wanted to use.  You could consider making the 6” tier from that (but it is chocolate, would that work?).  You could trim the top to make the height work out.

Good luck!

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Posted: 28 February 2010 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Julie is right, the only way to do a tiered cake safely is with straws and cake rounds, as described in the cake bible. Of course you can invest in Wilton’s dowels but I don’t think that’s necessary. I use large diameter straws, and the construction is rock solid.

Years ago my mom made a wedding cake, the cake itself being a heavy cake with lots of almonds and a pound cake consistency, and she just stacked the cakes on top of each other - by the end of the day it was the leaning tower of Pisa!

Good luck!

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Posted: 08 March 2010 12:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I had a busy week and was not able to make the cakes early. My first try was a failure. :-( The most difficult part was stacking the cakes.

I made the Cordon Rose Banana Cake w/ Sour Cream Ganache as the bottom tier. And the top tier was the White Velvet w/ Strawberry Buttercream. I was so disappointed at myself b/c I had read the recipes over and over. And guess what? I used all-purpose flour instead of cake flour. I looooooove the strawberry buttercream even though it was not fully smooth. That was my fault, I did not pureed it long enough in the food processor so there were still tiny bits. The other problem was my cake pans. I did go out to buy 6"x2” pans and the white velvet came out to a good height. I had my old 9-inch pans which were not fully 2-inch in height and the sides were not straight. And so my cakes height were uneven.

Then came time to stack the cakes. Oh boy, my hands were shaking. I had watched the video I found on this forum of Ms. Beranbaum doing it. It looked like a breeze when she did it. I cut the 5 straws (1 center and 4 around) and pushed them down. My spatula hit a little of the chocolate ganache when I was putting the top tier. Since the strawberry buttercream was more grainy and not smooth, I was not able to pipe a border to hide the cake round of the 6-inch cake.

It was a fun experience. I will be trying again next week.

I attach a photo of the banana cake and the stacked cake. I hope I did it right. Please excuse the cakes not looking that great.

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Posted: 08 March 2010 01:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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It appears to me that you did a fine job on the staking and on smoothing the frosting on the banana cake.  It looks good to me.  I notice in the RHC book that Rose uses the strawberry buttercream as a filling.  I wonder since you are using a puree whether it is possible to get the strawberry buttercream smooth enough for piping.  Congrats to you.  Looks like a good first effort to me.

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Posted: 08 March 2010 02:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Looks great to me! Keep on doing it and you’ll laugh at being nervous the first time around. Ok, perhaps the buttercream on the top layer isn’t perfect, but we’ve all had those days….

The stacking is always nervewrecking. Before I did the wedding cake I made lots of little stacked test cakes, which all worked out, but still when it came time to do the real thing I was super nervous! Though my hands didn’t start shaking until I put the decorations on. I had to recruit my husband because I simply couldn’t do it!

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Posted: 08 March 2010 11:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Thanks so much CRenee and Silke for your kind words. My mother also said it was good for a first try. But I was really irritated seeing the cake round. I just kept staring at the thing. It was so annoying that I could see it.

I did smeared the chocolate ganache a little in the center when stacking the top tier on. I knew b/c there was a little chocolate on the spatula when I pulled it out. When it was time to cut the cake, I removed the top tier and a little piece of the chocolate ganache stuck to the cake round. Did I stack it too low? Did my spatula hit the ganache when I put it in to lift off the top tier? Do you remember how it was like the first few times you stacked a cake?

If I was able to pipe a border on the 6-inch cake, wouldn’t the border lightly sit on the bottom tier? Or should I be doing it horizontally so the border does not touch the bottom tier? I am trying to picture in my head how to remove the top tier if a shell border, for example, is hitting the bottom tier.

This weekend’s bottom tier is pumpkin cheesecake. Still thinking of what to make for the top tier. Any suggestions? grin

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Posted: 09 March 2010 11:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Congratulations on your first tiered cake!  I agree with your Mom, it looks good.  And I bet it was delicious.

tranquildreamer - 09 March 2010 03:16 AM

But I was really irritated seeing the cake round. I just kept staring at the thing. It was so annoying that I could see it.

Piping a border would have helped, or, perhaps use Rose’s frosting technique that uses the board as a guide for frosting the sides- there’s a video on youtube.  It ends up covering the board with frosting.

This weekend’s bottom tier is pumpkin cheesecake. Still thinking of what to make for the top tier. Any suggestions? :-)

How about the ginger cheesecake from RHC? ginger + pumpkin = delicious
Or maybe continue the custard-y texture theme but go with chocolate:  the oblivion (only if they won’t be served on the same plate, the chocolate would overpower the pumpkin). 

Hopefully the experts will chime in on your other questions!  I’d be interested to know how to serve when the piped border rests partially on the top tier and partially on the bottom…

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Posted: 09 March 2010 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Perhaps the RHC spice cake for the top layer? To have a little dough to go with the custard in the bottom? I love the oblivion combined with the cheesecake, though, you have something for cheesecake lovers and something for chocoholics grin

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Posted: 09 March 2010 11:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I too, am a newbie and am fascinated with your questions, your tries and the encouragement and advice from others.  I am making a cake for 100 for my daughter’s birthday on March 27th.  I’m trying to figure out how much cake to make.  I thought maybe one 10 inch bottom layer, one 8 inch layer on top.  Then to make a large 18x 11 for passing out after the fancy decorated cake is used up.  I’m not nearly as adventurous as you, it will be all one kind of cake - chocolate peppermint. 
The amount of servings listed for each size cake that Rose calculates seems way too small to me, as someone else has said.  So how many servings can I expect from each:
                    2 layer 10 inch cake,
                    2 layers of 8 inch cake
                    large one layer 11x 18x 2  
As long as I know this, I can figure out where to go from here.  Thanks in advance for your generous .help

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Posted: 24 March 2010 12:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I am sooooo sorry for not replying sooner. Somehow I stopped receiving the email notification that someone posted a reply. I just wanted to check back today to post pics of the cakes I made for the event. Since I didn’t have time after work, I started Friday night and completed everything Saturday evening. It was so tiring since I’m new and slow. But when I saw the result, I was all smiles.

I made one two layered 9"x13” carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting. Then I made a 6” All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake on top of a 9” Southern Manhattan Coconut Cake both with SMBC. Carrot cake was moist and delicious. The coconut cake was also moist and tender. It was my first time with the coconut cake. Didn’t get to try the 6” cake b/c I gave the whole cake to my aunt.

Ginny, I apologize for not being able to answer your question. From my experience, I was excited and went overboard. There was so much food at the party so people didn’t really have much room left for cake. But who doesn’t like cakes to go?

Once again, thank you all for your help and encouragement. There will be more baking fun for me very soon due to Easter and upcoming birthdays. I’m glad I found this forum and you have all been so kind with your help.

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Posted: 24 March 2010 03:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Gorgeous! And super yummy looking grin. You had a great combination of cakes there. grin

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