People are intimidated by multiple layer cakes. Everyone loves layer cakes though and they are nothing to be afraid of. I like at least 3 layers of cake in my typical layer cake. Here are some tips on how to build a successful layer cake.
1. Bake your cake and let it cool completely, unmold it. I like to place mine in the fridge or freezer to firm up a little before I start cutting/building. Then you are going to trim the top off so it is completely flat.
2. Decide how many layers you want in your cake. I usually bake 2 cakes per layer cake. That way I can get about 2 to 3 cake layers cut per baked cake. Take a serrated knife and cut your layers evenly across the cake. Don't worry if they aren't perfect, that is what filling is for.
3. Begin with a chilled cake, frozen works great. You don't have to freeze it for a year, just a few hours will do. This keeps the cake firm and makes it easier to stack without it falling apart. Then begin by filling each layer with about a cup to a cup and a half of filling (for a 9 inch cake).
4. Don't worry if your filling goes over the sides a little. To prevent this, only fill the cake to about a half inch from the edge of the cake. Then when you place the next layer on top it won't smoosh out.
5. I don't mind a little extra filling smooshing out, it gives you something to crumb coat with. BUT, if you aren't doing the same frosting as filling, you probably don't want to let it smoosh out. Just saying.
What is crumb coating? This is where you coat the cake in a think layer of frosting, to capture all the crumbs and start shaping your cake. This helps with the overall look of the cake and keeps your final layer of frosting clean and pristine, free of crumbs.
6. Now that you have your cake crumb coated, place it back in the freezer to firm it up again. This really helps with the overall shaping of the cake. When it gets warm you end up with a sloped top and bottom and a sloppy looking cake. It really isn't your fault if you can't get it perfect from here, just freeze it for a little, you will thank me later. A chilled cake is a filled cake makers friend.
Now is also a good time to trim off any pieces that are not matching up. Basically, you want to make your lopsided cake look perfect. Trim that top layer with the funky edge or the middle layer that is hanging out an inch. You will have a difficult time trying to add enough frosting to cover these lumps and bumps in your cake. Just cut them off. So much better....
7. Now you are ready to frost and present! Good luck, more on frosting another time....