One 8-Inch Layer Cake45 minutes:
2 (8-inch) cake layers, cooled
5 cups soft American buttercream frosting, at room temperature
Food coloring, optional
Extras: sprinkles, nuts or coconut for decoration
- Create enough room for the cake in the refrigerator or freezer. Level cake layers with the serrated knife by slicing off the domes. Reserve these for another use, such as cake pops or an ice cream mix-in.
- Tint frosting with food coloring, if using.
- Stick the cake board to a cake turntable, if you have one, using a dab of frosting as glue. Stick first cake layer to the board using frosting, taking care to center both cake and round. Tuck strips of parchment in a circle around the base to keep the board and turntable clean. Spread about one-fifth of the frosting on the cake layer and use the offset spatula to spread to an even thickness, letting frosting go a bit past the cake’s edge.
- Set second layer of cake, bottom-side up, on the first. Press down gently to level the layers. Using the offset spatula, spread another one-fifth of the frosting evenly on top of cake.
- Coat the sides of cake completely with a thin layer of frosting. Hold the spatula vertically against cake while rotating the turntable and spread until it is relatively smooth, wiping frosting off of the spatula occasionally. It’s fine for the cake to show through: This coat of frosting traps the crumbs and helps get a neat final coat. Neaten the top edge of cake by catching the jagged peaks with the flat of the offset spatula and gently draw them across the top of cake.
- Chill until the crumb coat is firm to the touch, about 20 minutes in the refrigerator or 5 minutes in the freezer.
- Fill a decorating tool or piping bag fitted with a tip with 1/3 cup of the frosting and set aside.
- If making a swirled cake, apply the rest of the frosting all over the top and sides of the cake in an even layer. Texture it casually with swoops and curves. If making a smooth cake, spread 1 cup of the frosting on top of cake with the offset spatula, spinning the turntable and flattening frosting with the edge of the spatula to level it. Spread a generous amount of frosting on all sides of cake and even it out with the edge of the spatula pressing gently toward the cake as you spin the turntable. This is the finish coat, so work as neatly as possible and keep the spatula clean.
- Neaten the top edge of cake by catching any frosting peaks with the flat of the offset spatula, spreading them gently onto the cake surface. You may need to chill and do one final coating to get a completely smooth surface. Remove the parchment and finish the border around the bottom with the reserved icing. Slice and serve.