Last week my husband celebrated his 40th birthday. This momentous birthday happened to coincide with my need to try out a tiered cake.
If you had asked me a year ago if I’d ever make a tiered cake, I probably would laughed, but here I was, scheming to plan a party for my husband so I’d have an excuse to make one. Making a crazy tiered cake for my husband’s birthday party seemed a little over the top, even for his 40th birthday, so I asked two friends who also have October birthdays if they wanted to celebrate together. Three cool people, three birthdays, three layers of cake — a perfect combination.My husband had dropped some not so subtle hints about a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Since I knew I’d have to make multiple batches to fill three 8-inch pans, three 6-inch pans, and two 5-inch pans, I asked what he thought about layering in some strawberry cake as well. chocolate cake would fill two 8-inch pans, two 6-inch pans, and one 5-inch pan. A single recipe the addictive strawberry cake recipe I’d recently tried from Smitten Kitchen would fill one 8-inch pan, two 6-inch pans, and two 5-inch pans. His willingness to scale the strawberry recipe assured me that he felt okay about layering it into the mix. Making one recipe of strawberry cake would actually give me two extra cake layers. It seemed silly to scale down the full recipe to an odd proportion to make it fit into the number of pans I needed, especially when I saw an extra layer or two as a bonus. My biggest concern about making this cake centered on leveling it. I like to eyeball things, which doesn’t always turn out for the best when cutting rounded tops off of cakes so they’ll stack well. I’ve made some lopsided cakes, it’s true, but this has never really mattered so much before. I knew that once I started stacking cake upon cake upon cake, a little lopsidedness would surely result in enormous disaster. These extra layers would be my insurance in case I really screwed up my trimming. I’d decided to try finding some object of the right thickness to drop in the cake pans underneath the baked and cooled cakes. This would enable me to use the edge of the pan to guide the knife while trimming, which would ideally result in a smooth, level surface. I had some cardboard cake rounds, but they were too thin. In the end, I used some of my kids’ foam letters. They worked perfectly. I hope my kids don’t miss their letters, which I’ve now claimed as my own. chocolate sour cream frosting to the cake. marshmallow fondant and cut out about a million tiny ghosts for decorating the cake. Rain had poured down during those two days, so instead of the hardened ghosts I’d planned for, the damp air turned them into a gooey mess. Fortunately I had some leftover fondant, so I made more ghosts without too much trouble.