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Tips and Tricks for Better Layer Cakes

Layer cakes aren't just for birthdays anymore - they are popping up all over the place right now. And no matter what occasion you're baking for, we've got tips that will help you make a beautiful, delicious cake.

Correct Oven Temperature & Baking Times

  • Always make sure the oven is heated to the correct temperature. Start preheating before you start mixing the batter.
  • It's worth investing in an oven thermometer. Most ovens can be off by 25-75 degrees!
  • Don't overbake (you don't want to end up with a dry cake), but definitely do not underbake. That's the most common reason for a cake to fall in the middle.
  • Test with a toothpick in the center of the cake to see if it is done. If the toothpick comes out with a few crumbs sticking to it, the cake is done. If it comes out wet with batter, it's not quite ready yet.

Room Temperature Ingredients

  • Having ingredients at room temperature helps ensure the cake will rise perfectly.
  • Softening the butter helps aid in the mixing process. Set your butter on the counter at room temperature for 30-45 minutes. Or, if you're in a hurry, cut the butter into chunks and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  • To bring eggs to room temperature, place in a bowl of lukewarm water (not hot water) for 15 minutes.

Fresh Ingredients

  • Eggs
    • Always check the date marked on the carton to ensure freshness. You can also test the freshness of eggs by dropping them into a bowl of water. If the egg sinks, it's still fresh and okay to use. If it floats, it's time for new eggs.
  • Using fresh baking powder and baking soda is essential in making sure your cake rises perfectly. To test each for freshness:
    • Place ½ teaspoon baking powder in a small bowl. Add ¼ cup of hot water. If the mixture foams, the baking powder is still good. If it doesn't, it's time for a new box.
    • Place 1½ teaspoons baking soda in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar. If the mixture fizzes, the baking soda is still good. If it doesn't, replace it.

Correct Measuring Techniques

  • Flour
    • Measuring flour accurately is essential for successful baking. The easiest way to make sure your measurements are accurate is to do the following:
      • Stir the flour in the bag or canister with a large spoon to lighten it.
      • Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level the top with a spatula or butter knife. Be careful not to tap or shake the measuring cup when measuring - this can pack down the flour and make your measurement inaccurate.
  • Liquids
    • Always use a liquid measuring cup to measure milk, half & half, water, and other liquids. When pouring into the measuring cup, place the cup on a flat surface and come down to eye level with the measuring lines. This will ensure the most accurate reading.

    Now you're armed with tips to help make your cake the best it can be. Try these recipes for your next layer cake baking adventure - you won't be disappointed.

    Orange Cream Layer Cake

    German Chocolate Cake

    Spring Butterfly Cake

    Coconut Lime Layer Cake


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    Hi, I'm Becky. I'm eager to share my best ideas and favorite recipes from my 20+ years in the Land O'Lakes Test Kitchen. I'm also excited to help with any questions you have about cooking and baking with Land O Lakes® products. Some of the questions and answers will be published in our newsletter, The Measuring Cup®. Please use the short form below to ask your questions, or share your tip or memory.

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