Filling a cake is an important part of the cake design process. The type of filling is the recipient’s choice, selected to delight his/her guests!
Let’s choose a filling that is hardy and able to withstand the weight of the top cake layer. When filling a cake with icing, apply a thin layer of medium consistency buttercream icing, about 1/4” (the height of a chocolate chip) between the layers with an angled spatula.
There are many wonderful filling recipes to choose from. Always test your filling recipe before using it in your cake to see if it separates. Remember there are no preservatives in your filling except sugar, so here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing a homemade filling:
- Will the recipient need to place the cake in the refrigerator because of the fill? Will they actually place the cake in the refrigerator?
- How long will the recipient keep the cake before eating your delicious masterpiece? Will the filling spoil in that length of time? Laugh if you will, but some recipients will keep a cake up to 2 weeks. They may think the life of your delicious cake is the same as a prepackaged cake from the store.
- Will your family favorite filling keep that long or will it spoil? Sad but true, I prefer to keep my family favorite fillings in the family. This way I may monitor the shelf life of the cake myself.
There are many types of hardy, prepackaged fillings available for the sugar artist to use. I am a firm believer in finding shortcuts that work and prepackaged filling is one of those shortcuts. Jams, jellies and cake fillings are an excellent choice and come in many delicious flavors. Canned pie fillings work very well and are rich and creamy. Prepackaged dessert filling such as pop-top pudding packs are another tasty choice, which are readily available. They hold their shape and will not seep when used as a filling. Because of the preservatives in these types of filling they will not spoil as quickly as homemade cooked fillings.
You may even have a favorite filling of your own; a recipe which has been passed down from generation to generation. Keep in mind that homemade filling often separates once made. This causes your cake to become wet and the filling may seep out of the sides of the cake between the layers. This is not a process that is easily repaired and may be disastrous. It is not wise to freeze cake with a fruit filling. Fruit contains a great amount of water and when thawed becomes soggy.
Test your fillings before you use them. Place a small amount of filling on a plate. Allow it to sit for a couple of days. If there is a separation (a syrup ring around the filling) within a matter of hours, you may want to use a hardier filling.
When a filling is used, pipe a ring of medium consistency buttercream icing 3/4” from the edge of the cake using a coupler in a Featherweight® Decorating Bag. Your coupler opening is about 1/2”, therefore you will come in 1/4” (the height of a chocolate chip) from the edge of the cake. You may even use tip #12 on the coupler to pipe a dam if you would like.
Too much filling may case the top layer of the cake to crack and slide or have a bulge on the sides where the two layers meet. So how much is too much? Try spreading the filling with a tapered angled spatula no more than 1/4” (the height of a chocolate chip) thick inside the dam of buttercream icing.
Once you have filled your bottom cake layer with the desired filling, place the top layer on the filling making sure what was the bottom of the pan is now facing up. This will make it easy to ice your cake and you will have a smooth flat surface with minimal crumbs. Press the top of the cake gently causing the icing and filling to come to the edge of the cake between the layers. Pressing on the cake will also help prevent a bulge on the side of the cake between the layers during the transporting of your cake.
Now you are ready to frost your cake. You have created sugar art, which is tasty and beautiful, inside and out!
Remember there is nothing you can’t fix! And what you can’t fix, you eat! Enjoy your mistakes!