Developing and testing layer cakes can be a fun challenge for our Test Kitchen team and it takes lots and lots of cake and frosting for us to nail a cover-worthy cake. Here are a few behind-the-scenes moments from the development of our Anniversary Issue story, The South’s Most Storied Cakes.
Welcome to Layer Cake Testing
Frostings, fillings, cakes, pans, spatulas and more invade our Test Kitchen when we’re working on layer cakes.
Getting the Sugar Right
Robby Melvin and Pam Lolley tested and tasted dozens of frostings and fillings to make sure the final recipe was perfectly sweet. Layer cakes have more frosting and filling than other desserts, so it’s important to make sure there’s a good balance of sugar and flavor.
Every cake we make—from classic white cake to red velvet—behaves differently in the pan. Part of our testing process is determining the proper pans and proper greasing technique to use to make sure you don’t end up with cake layers stuck in the pan.
You never know how much a cake batter is going to rise, or if it will “dome,” as these red velvet cake layers did. We bake cakes dozens of times to make sure that when they bake, they’re the right density and height to perfectly stack.
One of the hardest recipes to get right is the cake filling. You need the perfect quantity to lend the cake a moist burst of flavor, but not too much so that the layers slide around after stacking.
Every icing behaves differently, and it’s important we test the best way to spread icings on our cakes. Should it be cold? Room temperature? Should you use a spatula? Or a knife? These are all questions our Test Kitchen answers behind-the-scenes.
Here, Robby Melvin crowns his cake with fresh strawberries. We experiment with lots of different garnishes, to make sure our cakes are as beautiful as they are delicious.
The BEFORE: Strawberry Red Velvet Cake
Robby Melvin shows off our very first test of the Strawberry Red Velvet Cake, one of the cakes we feature in our February 2016 Anniversary Issue.
The AFTER: Strawberry Red Velvet Cake
The Strawberry Red Velvet Cake, after dozens of tests, on set to be shot for our February 2016 Anniversary Issue story, “The South’s Most Storied Cakes.”