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If the cake layers have dome-shaped tops, you need to trim them to make the tops flat.
Use a long serrated knife to trim the cake. Rest the palm of your free hand on the domed top. Hold the knife parallel to the top of the cake and lightly score the edge where you’ll be making your cut. Use a gentle back-and-forth sawing motion.
When you’ve made one cut, rotate the cake and make another cut.
Cut and rotate until you’ve worked your way around the entire cake. Then repeat with the other cake layer. If one of your layers looks a little rough or crumbled, use that one as the bottom layer of your cake.
Put the bottom layer of cake on your cake platter. Lightly brush loose crumbs off the cake.
Here’s a secret that adds flavour and moisture to your cake: brush cake layers with sugar syrup.
To make sugar syrup, add 200g of sugar and 225ml of water to a medium saucepan. Stir and bring to the boil to dissolve the sugar.
Plop a large dollop of icing on the centre of your first layer. Spread it evenly to the sides. It doesn’t have to be perfectly even because the top cake layer will flatten it out.
Carefully place the top cake layer on top of the iced layer. Place it cut-side down. Bend down to eye level to make sure the layers are evenly aligned.
Don’t worry if icing squeezes out the sides. You’re going to use that later.
Brush off loose crumbs off the top of the cake, and brush the top with syrup.
Spread a thin undercoat of icing that will keep the cake crumbs under control. Professionals call this a crumb coat.
Put a small dollop of icing on top of the cake, and smooth it out. Remember, this is a thin undercoat, so don’t worry if you can see the cake through the icing.
Next, spread a thin layer of icing around the sides of the cake. This is where you smooth out the icing that squeezed out between the layers.
Put a big dollop of icing on top of the cake. Spread the icing over the top, and then the sides of the cake.
Rotate the cake platter as you work on the sides of the cake—this makes it easy to see all sides.
While you’re applying this final layer of icing, you can use a gentle swirling motion with your spatula to create a classic fluffy look. Or smooth it out if you’re going to pipe on a personalized message.
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