Whenever I bake my cakes come out of the oven with a crown (the rounded part at the top). I have always leveled my cakes by cutting off the crown straight across the top once it has cooled. There are tools to do this, I have a cake leveler (see the picture below) or I've also seen people use a long serrated knife. When I worked for one of Toronto's best cake decorators she used to use an actual level (the tool used in building houses etc.) once she cut the crowns off the cakes. I haven't used a level yet, but then again people aren't paying me to make their cakes!
In searching for the best videos to show you for this step, I found this one with tips from a woman who says she is a Master Cake Decorator with three tips to get a level cake that I am definitely going to try for my next cake!
When I make my cakes, I bake separate cakes for each layer in each tier. Did that make sense? For example - here's a picture of a cake I made for my cousin's wedding shower. It has two tiers, and in each tier there are two layers, so I baked four cakes to make it and then put buttercream between each layer.
So, once you have level cakes your next step is to fill them with either buttercream or another type of filling - this could be fruit, fruit preserves, dulce de leche, chocolate ganache....anything you'd like! If you use a filling other than buttercream, keep the filling app. 0.5" away from the edge of the cake. This makes sure that the filling doesn't spill into the buttercream around the outside of the cake.
Once the filling is in between the layers, you can put a quick crumbcoat (a really thin layer of buttercream over the top & sides) then put it in the fridge for app. 1 hour. What this does is prevent any crumbs from getting 'loose' from the cake which could marr the smooth finish of the layer of buttercream you use under the fondant.
|Crumb coated cake|
Here's Amanda Oakleaf again to show you how to fill and cover a cake with buttercream.
Please note: If you plan to cover your cake with fondant, you will skip the step where she uses the triangular comb to create the pattern around the outside. You want the buttercream to be perfectly smooth with crisp edges.
Once your cake is covered, put it into the fridge so that the buttercream will harden and create the surface you will use under your fondant.
Next Step: Part 3 - Cover your cake with buttercream or fondant