Vertical Layer Cake Tutorial {Surprise Inside Cake}

filed under: Miscellaneous on February 8, 2011


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The second time making the cake I was surprised by how quickly everything went. Its amazing how much smoother life is with a plan.

Huh. I gotta remember that.

Anywho… I made two cakes. One red velvet and one white cake. I made them in 8in pans and used these methods for creating a level cake.

Here is an important step… immediately out of the oven, within five minutes at most, I removed the cakes from their pans and cut the top dome of both 8-inch cakes.

I then placed the cut parts together. (It should look like a two layer cake here, except without frosting) Then put it in the freezer for no less than five hours.

The reason I do this is:

1. I want the height of a two layer cake. (four or five inches)

2. I do not want a frosting seam.

3. This helps to meld the layers together so they appear one complete layer.

(If you have a 5-inch deep cake pan you can use that.)

Now! Once the cakes have firmed up nicely (after a good five hours) you can remove them from the freezer.

We will begin to cut out our layers!

I simply used a cardboard cake round as my guide. I traced out three evenly spaced concentric circles.


I am now going to cut off the outside circle.


Place the template back on the cake. Now I need to carve around that circle! It’s important to try and get your knife at a 90-degree angle… you want a very straight up and down cut.


Follow the template as close as you can. A sharp knife here is a great idea!!


You are going to do this with BOTH cakes.

Now I cut off another circle and started the process again.


Do this to both cakes.

Then cut off another circle so you are left with the center portion. (FYI, if you want to do another circle, therefore making your center smaller, you certainly can!)


You are now left with two cakes that have concentric circles cut in each.


The next step might go against everything you know about cake… but just do it anyway.

Wow that was bossy.


Take a nice big sharp knife and cut from the OUTSIDE of the center circle through the cake.


You are going to gently separate the layers into individual sections. This is why it is SO important to have a very chilled if not frozen cake!


Choose which center you want to start with. (I choose the white cake)


Take the next larger layer of the other cake and place it around the center.


Keep doing this… alternating the layers… until you have a complete cake assembled again!


And there you go! Easy right?

Now… were you worried about the layers not staying together? I fixed that with three easy steps.

1. Pour a simple syrup over the re-assembled cakes. (not too much!!)

2. Place a wax paper “belt” around the cake and bind it together with a cord or towel scrap.

3. Place it back in the freezer for a bit!

A couple hours before you are ready to decorate, place the cakes in the fridge so they can “thaw” without sweating.

(I wouldnt recommend decorating a frozen cake.)


Now… please forgive me but I didn’t decorate the outside with the roses.

I just did a smooth layer of frosting then wrote out a romantic quote I found.

It’s nothing fancy, but it was easy.


“When I saw you I fell in love, and you smiled because you knew.”

And there are the vertical layers!

If you make this cake please let me know, I would love to see! And of course, love to know if you came up with an easier way. 🙂

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  • zeynep says:


    I’d like to bake either your vertical layer cake or a checkerboard cake for my boyfriend’s birthday. He doesn’t own an oven and it’ll take me a good 5 hours to get to his place, so I’m thinking to prepare the cake, put it in the fridge when I get there and decorate it in his kitchen the next day. After freezing and cutting/layering this cake, do you think it’d become soggy etc if I travel with it for 5 hours?

  • Jamaica says:

    What an incredible challenge! I hope I am successful at pulling this off as you are – one can dream! I have a question for you – for those of us who desire a filling between layers, do you think it could be applied to the inside walls of the vertical layered circles without destroying the cake structure? Just wondering if you’ve ever attempted it yourself!

  • Maddie says:

    I want to try this so badly! Thanks for the tutorial 🙂 How do you get your frosting to be so even though? It looks like fondant, it’s so perfect!

  • Michelle says:

    I do the vertical layers in exactly the same way except i dont freeze the cakes cause i dont like cold cakes and i use diameters of cake pans as my template so that you have a higher straight edge to guide your knife so there is a smaller chance of cutting it skew. I also dont cut the cake and peel them around but rather gently slip the rings off one another and slot them together again. this works really well.

  • Carmen says:

    Hi there! Your cake looks wonderful! just a question.. can i replace with sponge cake instead?? will it affect the cutting???? would love to hear from u!


  • Ashley Anderson says:

    I found a really cool cake pan set I used to do something like this. It came with rings to divide the batter. It was shop much easier than this process and I had the option to make it checkered on the inside. Found it at hobby lobby. Just two 9″ cake pans and plastic dividers.

  • jerzygirl45 says:

    Okay, now this was crazy … and brilliant! You’re like a cake MacGyver 😉

  • Maya Mardini says:

    Sorry if this seems obvious, but did you actually make two red velvet cakes and two white cakes, for the rosette cake, that you stacked on top of each other before freezing?

    • Amanda says:

      I can’t see your images but it sounds like quite the party!!!

  • Virginia says:

    Amanda, I have two questions
    1. After the initial freezing, how long should I left it defrost before slicing the rings?
    2. After the final freezing, about how long does it take to defrost the cake before frosting and how do you recommend defrosting the cakes – keep it wrapped in plastic in refrigerator or on the counter?
    THanks! and I can’t wait to make this!

  • Katie says:

    That quote is NOT from Shakespeare. The language and style used sounds nothing like his writing (and doesn’t fit the time period), plus he would never write such sappy dreck.

    • Joni says:

      What a pretentious and rude thing to say.
      I am baker takes the time to show us how to do this and your comment is unnecessary.

      • Elaine DiSanto says:

        If I were mis-quoting something, I’d want to know.

        The writer of the aforementioned quote is Arrigo Boito, and it’s from the opera “Falstaff”, which is based on Shakespeare’s play, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, so you can see why it’s been falsely attributed to Shakespeare.

        Katie was not wrong, just tactless… 😉

        • Amanda says:

          Perfect. Thank you!

  • Laureen says:

    You are nuts!.. and I love you:) So fun, thanks for sharing!

  • Christa M says:

    I would love to know what sized cake pans you used to make this outstanding cake! A true Masterpiece.

  • Gena says:

    This is my first time go to see at here and i am treuly happy to read
    all at alone place.

  • Brenda says:

    Wow. . so awesome. . thanks for sharing!
    When I first seen the cut pieces, I though you might be going to fill voids with ice cream.
    My Mother -in -law loves ice cream cakes. . think I’ll try to make a two tier. .your iceing on it sounds so scrumptious!

  • Carol says:

    So this makes 2 finished cakes? One with a red center and one with a white center? You do not then stack those 2 cakes? Sorry, I am confused. I really like the idea of vertical layers.

  • Marty says:

    Love the idea of a Vertical Layer cake. Any chance you can make the instructions printble??
    Or maybe e-mail the instructions to me? Gotta do something special for the wife

  • Robert renteria says:

    Can’t wait to try some of your baked goods!!

  • hawa says:

    I make a similar vertical layer cake, however my layers are cake and cream instead. i use a swiss roll method but instead of just rolling it as a swiss roll i cut it and layer it so it looks like a normal cake until you cut into it.

  • Pat says:

    so….no frosting in between the “layers”?

  • Riya dhanjani says:

    Superb ideas

  • Carol Motte says:

    I love your cake site!! I am learning new tricks at 75 lol! I will be doing several practice cakes in preparing for baking my granddaughter’s Wedding cake in June 2022, so I have a lot of time to learn! I am gathering all my pans, utensils and several cake recipes now to make sure I have what I need, who knows, if I get real good with this I might even have discovered a new hobby and can start my own Cottage Industry making beautiful Weddings cakes for young brides who are budget conscious! As professional bakery cakes are very expensive! I love your tutorials …thank you for them I will be following you for sure! Carol Motte, Atlanta, Ga

  • I Am Baker Logo

    Brand new recipes that people find kinda acceptable.