Ever since I saw that beautiful layer cake photo above in one of our catalogs, I’ve been dreaming up all sorts of luscious flavor combinations in my head. Hmm, how about lemon cake with blueberry ice cream? What if we tried chocolate cake layered with chocolate ganache and topped with strawberries? On and on it went for days, the endless possibilities were mind-boggling! And then I thought about whether I really needed those special layer cake pans to make a beautiful multi-layered cake. Nah, I thought, I can just cut the layers to size.
For my first attempt, I made both yellow and chocolate cake layers topped with a rich chocolate buttercream frosting. First I baked each cake in 8-by-8-inch square pans, then sliced them into four rectangular layers. Slicing the layers evenly was more challenging than I anticipated. In hindsight, it would have been easier to slice (or tort) the cakes if they had been first partially frozen. The resulting cake did not have perfectly uniform layers but no one seemed to mind. It was a moist, delicious cake with rich chocolate frosting. What’s not to like?
With the Fourth of July holiday not far away, I decided to try my hand at a red, white and blue layer cake. This time I decided to put ice cream layers between the cakes to add some color, additional flavors and cool, creamy deliciousness. For one layer, I used our own strawberry ice cream recipe. This recipe for blueberry cheesecake ice cream really spoke to me, so I decided I absolutely had to make it as soon as possible. For the cake portion, I thought a pound cake sounded tasty but wanted something not too heavy or dense. I found a recipe for Lighter, Airy Pound Cake on the Smitten Kitchen blog and decided to give it a try.
For this round, I was excited to test our Wilton 4-layer rectangular cake pan set to make my multi-layered cake. The nonstick baking pans are lightweight, easy to clean and stack together nicely to save space.
The first step in creating my layer cake was to make my ice cream bases. While I have a Cuisinart ice cream maker and an extra freezer bowl, I actually did this step over two days due to time constraints.
Next I made the pound cake batter and baked it off in three of the rectangular pans. (Note: the original recipe called for baking the pound cake in a standard loaf pan but the amount of batter was just right to fill three of the skinny rectangular pans about 2/3 full.) The cakes baked up a nice golden brown after about 17 minutes in the oven. They bake quickly in these pans, so I probably could have pulled them out a minute sooner.
After washing and drying the pans, I set aside two and lined them with plastic wrap to form my ice cream layers. After filling one with strawberry ice cream and the other with blueberry cheesecake ice cream, I put them into the freezer to firm up for approximately three hours.
Now it was time for the “icing on the cake.” Sweetened whipped cream topped with fresh berries seemed to be the way to go with this cake. After whipping the heavy cream with some powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla, I set it aside to assemble my layer cake.
After setting out one of my favorite rectangular platters and my offset spatula, I was ready to get to work. First, I put a bit of whipped cream on the platter and set one of the cake layers on the plate. Next, I placed the blueberry ice cream layer, then another cake, then the strawberry ice cream and finally the third cake layer. It was at this point I realized my cake layers had shrunk a bit after cooling, so I used a serrated knife to slice off some of the ice cream layers from the short ends to even things up.
Finally I iced the cake with my sweetened whipped cream and put the finished cake in the freezer until serving time. I decorated my cake with stripes of fresh blueberries and strawberries, but you could just as easily create an American flag if you were serving your cake at an Independence Day barbecue.
Lessons learned from this experiment:
- The layer cake pans are definitely worth the investment. It was so nice not to have to tort the layers by hand and not have an avalanche of cake crumbs to clean up afterward. In addition, if you are adding ice cream layers to your cake it is quite helpful to have these pans to use as a mold for creating even layers.
- If you will be freezing your cake, be sure to use a light and airy cake recipe to make slicing easier. While the pound cake recipe I used was delicious, it wasn’t quite as light and airy as I’d hoped when frozen.
Making these cakes was a lot of fun, and I can see more possibilities for me to use the layer cake pans this summer. Perhaps for my next project I’ll work on perfecting the perfect s’mores cake, as I’m always looking for a good excuse to use my handy kitchen torch. This one looks like a winner.
Do you have a favorite layer cake recipe you’d like to share? And where do you get your baking inspiration?
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