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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • Sharmini says:

    Hi this cake is so amazing as is your roses cake!! i love the frosting and quote effect. May i please know what frosing u used and how u got the quote onto the side of the cake?? as i am sure u didn’t pipe straight on??

    i decorated a birthday cake using your rose tutorial and got many many compliments! i did say i got it from u. Thankyou very much!!

  • Charul Ajmera says:

    I have said this before and I am telling this again, I aspire to become a baker like you. Period. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Chu On Cakes says:

    i like that there ISN’T frosting between layers!

  • Kathy says:

    Very cool. I’m wondering if you could get the same effect by using the cake pan set that people use to create checkerboard cakes – and just making all three layers the same color sequence rather than alternating them for each layer. If you aren’t familiar with those pans, you can see them here:

    • Amanda says:

      It seems like it would work! I have seen those pans lately, but do not own one so cannot attest to its functionality. But good luck if you do decide to try! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Janetta says:

    I love this cake! I am making this for a couple whose anniversary it is in June. She wanted something different… And this id different and beautiful! I was wondering what frosting you made for this cake. It is so smooth looking! As for not frosting each layer and using the simple suyrup is an awesome idea for a not so sweet cake!

  • aigilanomar says:

    How hard would it be to just fill with cream in between the redvelvet ke circle layers? And would you recomend it?

    • Amanda says:

      It would be pretty tricky. Plus I cannot account for the stability of the cake. Let me know if you try it!

  • Nikole says:

    What a fun take on a traditional layer cake!! Thank you so much for the tutorial! I really appreciate all the pictures. I am actually in the middle of making this cake, and would like to know if you have a trick for getting the second hot/warm/fragile layer onto the first one without it either breaking or being off-kilter?

  • renee says:

    I make a checkered cake which is made the same way except you alternate layer when restacking them. I use round cookie cutters to do mine. That way I don’t have to worry about getting the angles perfect. Before I used that I used a round glass bowl and a round drinking glass.

  • Milly says:

    I tried this today… The white cake baked well, apart from the fact that it wasn’t white(?). The red velvet… Um… I followed the recipe exactly. When I started to put it in the oven, in looked very drippy… I shoved it in the oven anyway. As I said the white cake baked well. As I took the red velvet out the oven, it looked fine, and had a few, small circular spots(?). I let them cool, then put them in the freezer.
    I began cutting the white cake. I cut the red velvet cake… DISASTER! The cake crumbled in half! I kept on cutting the cake, and it turned out wonderfully broken. Each piece had at least 2 cracks in it! I assembled one cake with white butter-cream, and the other one with lemon syrup. My siblings and I ate the cake anyway. My siblings don’t really care what the cake looks like, as long as it’s delicious! The vertical layers looked beautiful anyway…
    Thanks for making a great cake idea! My sister was actually asking how I made it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have a great butter-cream recipe.
    Here it is ๐Ÿ™‚
    50g butter
    1 cup icing sugar
    Few drops of food coloring (optional)
    1. Make the butter a litter soft by melting it in the microwave.
    2. Add the icing sugar to the butter and mix until smooth. It it isn’t smooth, add a few tablespoons of milk.
    3. Add icing sugar and milk until it is the right consistancy and the pale, creamy white.
    4. Mix in a few drops if food coloring, if you like.

  • Callie says:

    You are extremely talented ! Mad respect for you and your wonderful creations! You have been a big inspiration for me. Thank you. Keep up the beautiful work!

    This genius btw (:

  • Alyssa says:

    This looks amazing, and I have been waiting for a chance to try it out for a long time. I finally have a chance to do it, my boyfriend and I share a birthday next week and I plan to make it with red and blue velvet cakes, and decorate it with Super Mario Bros. frosting art. However, I’ve got a few questions about frozen cake. I am pressed for time this week, and I was hoping to make the cakes ahead of time and freeze them until I am ready to decorate, just before I leave. How long can I freeze cake before it starts to get weird? Are there any structural or flavor implications I should be worried about? Also, I have to travel with the cake, about 240 miles, do you think it will stand up to the drive without the layers separating? is the simple syrup enough to hold it together? Just wondering if anyone has any insight on these things! I can’t wait to try this out, either way! I just love how it looks!

  • Joei says:

    Do you think this would work/ would the layers stick together properly if (instead of the simple syrup on top) there were a teensy bit of frosting between each circular layer?

    • Milly says:

      I’m not sure. When I make this, I assembled one with butter-cream on the layers and then on the rest of the cake. It stuck together well, but when I cut it, it felt. I’m sorry, this didn’t really answer your question. ๐Ÿ™

  • Afiqah says:

    I was here at first to find out about the layers. But then I fell in love with the decoration that you made for the cake. will you kindly teach me how. I like it because it’s very simple yet attractive. I’m just a beginner baker he =)

  • Elena says:

    Compliments!!!!!!This cake is amazing and wonderful!!

  • Elena says:

    Compliments!!!! This cake is amazing and wonderful!!!!

  • antonia cruz tavera says:

    lo voy hacer se ve rikisimo gracias por poner como se va haciendo las fotos yo andaba buscando como hacer un pastel diferente luego les aviso como quedo….

  • Nadeen says:

    That looks amazing. I am going to try and make it for my husband’s work.
    I have a question: when you first put the cakes in the freezer did you wrap them?

  • Alison says:

    I am thinking about attempting this for my daughter’s birthday on Saturday. Do you just pour the simple syrup all over the cake? And, have you ever tried a flavored simple syrup like strawberry? What do you think?

  • Stacey Johnson says:

    WOW! Your are a rockstar! I “evernoted” the image of this rose cake a year ago because it was so pretty. I was on a roll “evernoting” that day (is that even a word??)and did not take the time to visit your site to see how you made the insides. Frankly it hurt my head to think about how it could possibly be done and so I put it aside. Silly me….I am now subscribing to your blog. Love your writing style and of course your cakes!

  • Kim says:

    Hello – beautiful work! Can you do this with a 6 inch cake, or would the layers be too thin to work with?

    • Amanda says:

      You certainly could… but it might not be as much of an impact as you would like!