Fill Your Cakes with Flavor

August 18th, 2010 by Fran Tripp

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.

Filling a CakeThere 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.

Filling a CakeWhen 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.

Filling a Cake 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!

Fran Tripp Fran Tripp has been on the Wilton Training Team over 4 years, a Wilton Instructor over 25 years, a Sugar Artist over 30 years, has been baking since she received her Easy Bake Oven, and kisses the grandchildren daily as she feeds them cakes, candies and cookies….shhh, don’t tell their Moms & Dads. Remember--There is nothing you can’t fix and what you can’t fix, you eat! Enjoy your mistakes!!!!

58 Replies

  1. Carmelo says:

    Many times I’ll use a pre-made store-bought filling, sometimes I’ll use a pie filling. Other times, I’ve used pudding. I’ve gotten great reviews on them all. Maybe because I don’t charge and give my family and friends cake for free and they don’t want the goodness to stop.

    I’m going to have to definitely try using some of the cake filling recipes on this site.

    Before I took my Wilton classes, I didn’t even know about building a dam to hold the filling in. Now, I can’t even imagine filling a cake without one. Great article Fran!

  2. Kathy says:

    I just tried a new filling for my daughter’s birthday cake and it worked really well. I disolved a small Jello pkg. in 1/4 cup of boiling water and let it cool. This was then folded into a mixture of a tub of whipped topping and a regular container of a matching fruit yogurt. After this set up a bit, I spread it on the bottom layer of cake and then since I used strawberry, I placed slices of strawberrys on top of that and spread on another very thin layer of the filling.
    The cake of course had to be refrigerated, but it worked out great and everyone loved the taste.

  3. Atacado das Festas says:

    Tenho uma empresa e gostaria de revender os produtos da Wilton.
    Entrem em contato pelo email ou telefone:43-33443152

  4. Anna Gladich says:

    Hello there! I have a quick question; I like to use the Wilton Wonder mold Doll cake but there isn’t an actual cake recipe for that mold in the papers. So far I’ve made my own but would like the recipe that actually is made for the cake. Can you help me? I’ve searched the website and come up with nothing. Have a great day

    • Fran says:

      Try turning your favorite cake mix into a pound cake type cake. Many box mixes have a recipe on the box to make a firmer cake. I prefer a pound cake texture over a regular soft cake for all 3D, free standing cakes.

  5. Lisa says:

    I have been searching high and low for an easy chocolate ganache filling for my daughter’s 10th birthday cake. I suppose I’m looking for a whipped ganache as a regular ganache would just run out, I suppose, even with a dam. Any help??? Thanks!

    • Fran says:

      Ganache sets up as it cools. Spread a very thin layer of chocolate buttercream icing on your cake. Pipe a dam of buttercream icing as if you were adding any type of filling. Allow your favorite ganache recipe to cool until it begins to set. Then pour the ganache into the dam of buttercream icing. Top with your second layer of cake. Frost your cake and decorate. Yummy!

  6. Lori says:

    To Lisa;
    I found a great ganache recipe at After you prepare the ganache, refrigerate until completely cool. Then whip with mixer. Makes a great filling, very easy

  7. Michelle says:

    I have a caramel cream cheese filling that is a favorite – just mix a brick of cream cheese (not the spreadable kind) with a tub of caramel apple dip (Marzetti’s). Great with a white/yellow cake.

    • Jackie says:

      That sounds so yummy! Does the caramel dip have a consistency right from the tub that you can just add it to the cream cheese, or do you have to warm it??

      • Michelle says:

        Jackie – I use it straight from the tub – no warming necessary. I just let my cream cheese come to room temperature.

  8. Carmen says:

    How long can a cake filled with fresh strawberries last before it is consumed?? It will be covered with fondant. Please advise..

  9. joy hong says:

    Anybody knows any cake recipe using small convection oven? I do not have conventional oven for now but I am dying to bake a good cake on my convection oven. I tried to bake some but I always fail. It is always dense and hard. I do not know what to do, please help!

    • Fran says:

      Is it possible to turn off the convection fan? You will be very happy with the results. Cake mixes are designed to bake at a certain temperature and speed for the highest quality cake you can achieve. A convection oven moves the air around in the oven causing the cake to bake faster. Many times the result of the cake texture will be heavy, distorted and wet in places.

    • Nikcooks says:

      Try reducing the oven temperature by 25 degrees. You may have to adjust the baking time a bit, but the lower temperature will prevent the outside of the cake from burning before the middle of the cake is cooked. I’ve convection baked cakes successfully before by using this method.

  10. Hannah says:

    I found that melting 4 or 5 snickers bars in a pan with a little bit of milk is really good! Just make sure that you let the snickers cool and set a bit, before covering with the top layer of your cake, otherwise the dam will melt.

  11. Sandhya says:

    Wot is it you have used to place the second cake layer over the first without crumbling.
    I always struggle while placing them.
    SOme kind of a gadget u have used in the 3rd pic. what is it called.
    Do reply to my mail.

  12. barb says:

    Does anyone have a tried and true recipe for cookies or cakes for my grandchild with allergies. HE IS ALLERGIC-ANAPHYLAXIS to nuts, wheat,gluten,eggs,dairy. He CAN have soy. Thanks, Barb

  13. Amy says:

    I’m doing my first wedding cake and I’m concerned about the fillings staying fresh. I know I’ll have to refrigerate the cake up until the day of the wedding, but I will only be able to set the cake up early in the morning and it won’t be eaten until around 6:30pm that evening, so that will be around 12 hours that it will sit out. My icing I use doesn’t require refrigeration, but I’m more concerned about the fillings. Is this too long for the cake to sit out? Will it ruin the fillings? Is there a choc mousse filling I can make that won’t ruin? Any ideas will be appreciated. Thanks, Amy

    • janys says:

      mix 1 cup milk with the instant pudding of your choice. Mix with frozen whipped topping, the amount depends on how thick you want it. Maybe if you used evaporated milk it might be able to sit out longer. I too am doing a wedding cake, carrot cake with white chocolate and cheesecake filling.

      • Silvana says:

        Amazing filling recipe!!!! Just like Amy, I have to make my first wedding cake and it has to be ready by noon on October 2nd. The bride chose a red velvet one with chocolate filling, covered with fondant. I was thinking of preparing the 3 cakes in advance and keep them frozen for almost a week. Two days before the party, I’d put them in the fridge to thaw. May I prepare the three tiers with filling and fondant the day before and leave them at room temperature? In this case, I would finish the decoration the morning of the wedding. Is it possible? Awaiting suggestions… Thank you!!!

        • Shannon says:

          I did my sister’s wedding cake last month and I had to have it done the night before, so it sat out for 24 hours unrefrigerated and it was great when we ate it. I used flavored buttercream fillings and fondant. So I wouldn’t worry about it sitting out. Good luck!

  14. nancy kempf says:

    Hello,if I fill a cake with strawberry filling, @ I pipe it with white iceing, when you slice the cake isn`t it going to look funny with the white next to the strawberry? Thank you, Nancy

  15. Janice says:

    I like your show and wilton all together. you guys are wonderful. keep it up.


  16. namita says:

    hi want to make a fondant covered cake for my son’s b’day. i’m using the betty crocker carrot cake mix. my question is can i bake n decorate the cake 2 days before with the strawberry jam filling. i dont want to rerigerate it
    will the jam turn bad i n2 days?
    or if there’s a a way to avoid this
    will using a fresh buttercream have a longer shelf life
    pls reply

  17. Fran says:

    Namita, yes you may bake and decorate your cake a couple of days before the event. Cake is at its best on the second and third day. Your jam filling has a wonderful preservative, sugar. Keep your cake in a cool area of the house and your cake will be delicious!

    The cake sounds yummy!

    Good Luck,

  18. namita says:

    thank you so much Fran for the quick reply. i was kinda stressed abt whts gonna happen to my cake. searched all over the net for the answer. tnx again. i’ll send u pics of it 🙂

  19. Fran says:

    Please send the pics to Thanks!

  20. Dawn says:

    I want to make a lemon poppy seed cake in a bundt pan. Can I put 1/2 the batter, the lemon pie filling, and then the other half of the batter before I bake it? Is there another ingredient I could add with the lemon pie filling? Does the cake need to be refrigerated? Look forward to hearing from you!

  21. […] Once you have filled your bottom cake layer with the desired filling … want to make a lemon poppy seed cake in a bundt pan. Can I put 1/2 the batter, the lemon pie filling… Link to original page […]

  22. KARA says:

    I am in need of a recipe for a Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse filling for a wedding cake. The cake needs to sit out for about 8 hours. Can anyone help???

  23. Jasmine says:

    Hello, I’m making a chocolate cake with banana pudding and bananas for the filling. The pudding consists of a mixture of instant vanilla pudding, milk, cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and cool whip.
    If I fill it the night before and put it in the fridge, will it get soggy? It’s for my son’s 2nd birthday and would really hate to mess this one up. : )

    I would appreciate any advice!

  24. Alison says:

    Scrambling to get work done before making my first layered cake for my second Wilton Class tonight. Wondering if anyone has any ideas for another filling flavor with with chocolate cake and a coffee flavored icing inbetween and on the outside. Hoping to shave some chocolate on top, but would like a layer or two of something else. Any ideas?

  25. Chasity Davis says:

    I am looking for cake filling recipes. Does anyone know of a website or book I can purchase that has a large variety?

  26. Danielle says:

    I was wondering if I could use a regular jar of strawberry jelly to use as an filling?

  27. mitchell38 says:

    im looking for a really great filling for a cake does anyone have anything they would recommend

  28. Eman says:


    Any tricks on using fresh fruit and cream as a filling. I have been requested this filling so many times and the cake never ends up as neat and straight edged as I would want it to. I really dread it when my customers ask for fruit filling I am even considering not offering it as a filling option.

    Last cake I used kiwi strawberries and mango as the client requested. I drained the chopped fruits and mixed them in creamcheese icing. Did the butter cream circle border between the layers. Applied a smooth layer of buttercream before applying the filling. Refregirated and came was done one day before delivery. It was an 8″ and had a 6″ on top. I also added 4 dowel rods for support. But it still lost shape.

    any solution???

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  30. Susan says:

    I am making cupcakes with decorator icing of crisco, flavoring, egg whites and of corse powdered sugar, for a wedding shower for tomorrow. Do I need to icing tonight and put in refrigerator or decorate and leave out? And the cakes are cooled off, do they need refridgerated before I icing?

  31. I just want to seek your advise and tips on how to make my carrot cake (without icing) stay at least a week in room temperature?

  32. Barbara says:

    I want to make a pound cake with cheesecake filling. Any advice anyone? TIA.

  33. marisa says:

    hello i have a wedding cake and cupcakes redvelvet with cream cheese do i fill the cake the night before or on the day

  34. Heather Fales says:

    Are the pudding snacks safe to use for a filling if the cake is left out. I am making a bridal shower cake the day before and using marshmallow fondant to decorate? Looking for non refrigerated fillings other than buttercream and ganache. Thanks!

  35. Sana says:

    Plz can any one help me.can i use vanilla snack packs pudding in cake layring. Or would it b better to add whipped cream in snack pck pudding

    • Desiree Smith says:

      Hi Sana,

      You can use pudding as a cake filling. You just need to make a dam of icing around the edge of the layer as you’re filling so the pudding doesn’t leak out.


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