Mini Layer Cake Tutorial

How to assemble and decorate mini layer cakes made from a sheet cake!

Mini Layer Cake Tutorial

The countdown until Mother's Day is officially on!!  If you still need a last-minute gift or dessert recipe, then this is the recipe for.  Made from a simple SHEET CAKE, these little baby cakes are so cute and quick to put together.  The best part?? The decoration, of course!  Making these minis means you can customize each one.  Or create an army of minis that all look the same – it's totally up to you!

Mini Layer Cake Tutorial
Mini Layer Cake Tutorial

My love for mini cakes runs deep.  Not only are they super cute, but I like the idea of creating an individual cake for guests or loved ones.  I've devoted the last 10 years to making layer cakes, but sometimes you have to switch it up, ya know?  When a slice (of cake) won't do and you want something a bit fancier than a cupcake, then MINI CAKES are the answer!  Customize them, give them as gifts, and/or place one at each place setting at your next brunch or dinner party.

Seriously, what's not to love?  They pretty much speak for themselves, so let's get started...

Mini Layer Cake Tutorial
Mini Layer Cake Tutorial
Mini Layer Cake Tutorial
Mini Layer Cake Tutorial

Here's what you need to get started:

  • Baked and cooled sheet cake (recipe to follow)
  • A batch of your favorite buttercream (recipe to follow)
  • A round cookie or biscuit cutter (about 2 to 3 inches in diameter)
  • Piping tip(s)
  • Piping bag
  • Assorted cake decorating accessories

How to Make Adorable Mini Layer Cakes:

  1. Bake, cool, and trim your sheet cakes.  If they bake up with a dome on top, feel free to shave it down with a serrated knife.
  2. Cut out rounds of cake with the cookie/biscuit cutter out of the sheet and set aside.  You should be able to cut out at least 12 rounds per 1/4 sheet cake.
  3. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium start tip with buttercream.  Pipe buttercream on half of the cake rounds.  Take the plain cakes and place them on top to make mini 2-layer cakes.
  4. For the top, pipe on more frosting like you did for the filling or decorate as desired.
Mini Layer Cake Tutorial

Decoration Ideas:

  • Fresh flowers!  I like to purchase a mixed bouquet and dissemble it a bit.  This way, you can still make individual cakes that are unique, but they still coordinate with similar colors and textures.
  • Sprinkles!  I like to mix together sugar pears, jimmies, and quins to make my own custom mix.
  • Meringues!  I whipped up some French meringue earlier this week for a different project.  Fortunatly for me, I added a bit of gel food coloring to the extra meringue, piped them into little stars/kisses, and baked them.  Cute, right?
  • Buttercream!  Yup, regular buttercream with a touch of pink using a petal tip can make a world of a difference.  For the frilly, flower mini cakes, I used a #103 petal tip.  Keeping the narrow end pointing away from the center, begin piping petals around the outer top edge of the cakes.  Continue around until complete.  Begin a second row of inner petals in the center of cake.  Finish by sprinkling sugar pearls into the center of the "flowers."
Mini Layer Cake Tutorial
Mini Layer Cake Tutorial

Basic Buttermilk Sheet Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 + 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line two 1/4-sheet pans (9" X 13") with parchment and set aside.

Combine dry ingredients together; set aside. 

Beat butter on medium-low speed of electric mixer until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and mix on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy and pale in colour, about 2 to 4 minutes. Scrape sides of bowl.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed until blended. Add vanilla extract; beat on low speed until blended.

Add in half of the flour mixture.  Once this is incorporated, pour in the buttermilk while the mixer is running on low speed.  Once the milk is absorbed, add in the remaining flour mixture. After the last streaks of flour are incorporated, mix the batter on medium-low speed for about 20 seconds until smooth. 

Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Spread until smooth.  Bake for 24 to 26 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack.  Use just after the cake has completely cooled or wrap with plastic until ready to assemble.

Variations:
– add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract with the vanilla
– add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon or cardamom with the dry ingredients
– add the zest of one large lemon with the sugar; replace 1/4 cup buttermilk with lemon juice

 

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 to 4 tablespoons milk

Beat butter at medium-low speed of electric mixer until smooth and creamy (1 to 3 minutes.) 

Gradually add 3 ½ cups powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste or extract with mixer at low speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Mix until blended.

Beat at medium-high speed 3 to 5 minutes, until buttercream is light and airy and nearly white.  If needed, add the additional powered sugar or milk until desired consistency.  

Variations:
– add the seeds of 1/2 a vanilla bean
– add 1/2 teaspoon rose water
– add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
– add 1 tablespoon freeze dried raspberry powder (or to taste)
– add the zest of one lemon; replace 2 tablespoons milk with lemon juice

10 Best Mother's Day Desserts

From lavish layer cakes to simple bundts, pies, and pastries, I've gathered together my TOP 10 favorite dessert recipes to celebrate all the moms this Mother's Day.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Coconut Tres Leches Cake
Layers of lightened-up coconut cake have been soaked in tres leches, or "three milks."  Inspired by the Latin American dessert, this layer cake version is frosted in clouds of whipped cream sweetened with condensed milk and then garnished with toasted coconut for added flavor and texture.  I first made this with my own grandmother in mind a couple years ago, and I bet you mom and grandmother will love it too.

Carrot Banana Bread Cake

Honey Carrot Banana Bread
A lightly spiced cross between a delicious carrot cake and decadent banana bread - all sweetened with honey and no refine white sugars!  You guys actually really love this cake.  And what's not to love?  If I were you, I'd bake up several of these, wrap them as gifts, and give them out to all the moms in my life.  In fact, I better pick up a ton of bananas tomorrow so they ripen up in time to make a few batches myself!

Lemon Thyme Layer Cake

Lemon Thyme Layer Cake
Citrus and herbs pair together beautifully in this vibrant lemon thyme cake.  Light lemon cake is flecked with fresh thyme and layer with lemon buttercream.  Add a ripple of homemade lemon curd for an extra pop of flavor.  Need a fuss-free decoration?  Use the fresh thyme to create a simple, rustic crown around the cake!

Grapefruit Lemon tart recipe with whipped cream

Grapefruit Lemon Tart
Tender, buttery crust is filled with vibrant grapefruit and lemon curd before being topped with clouds of whipped cream.  So sunny and perfect for spring!  If fresh berries and rhubarb have yet to arrive in your town, then this it the dessert for you.

Carrot Cake Recipe with buttercream flowers

Classic Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing
I know I just shared this cake for Easter, but the flowers just shout MOM to me.  If you didn't get a chance to make it last month, then I strongly recommend making it now.  It truly is the best and only carrot cake recipe you will ever need (in my humble opinion).  Best of all, you can adapt it to whatever mom likes!

Olive Oil Lemon Bundt cake with toasted coconut

Olive Oil Citrus Cake with coconut
Citrus and olive oil go hand-in-hand in this bright, delightful cake.  Vibrant lime zest and a sprinkle of toasted coconut add instant flavor and texture to each bite.  Like most Bundts, this one whips up easily and can be made in advanced.  Wrap well in plastic and store at room temperature.  Add the glaze before serving.

Eton Mess Cake

Eton Mess Cake
Layers of light, fluffy sponge cake, sweetened whipped cream, crispy meringues, and fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries – this is a take on the classic British Eton Mess and Victoria Sponge Cake turned into one delightful treat.  Everything here is so light and refreshing, so don't be afraid to serve a large, tall slice.  If transporting this cake, then definitely pack the cake and filling separately.  Gently re-whip the cream by hand and assemble on site.

Lemon Mousse Cake with fresh raspberries

Sunny Lemon Mousse Cake
This simple and slightly understated cake is full of flavor from both the tart lemon mousse and the juicy raspberries.  In this case, a single-layer cake works best.  The cake itself is light and spongey.  It is the perfect canvas for a mound of heavily lemon mousse.  Add the raspberries just before serving so the juices down spill onto the cake.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Cake

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Cake
If your mom is more into chocolate and decadent desserts than the light and fresh confections, then this is the cake for her.  Fresh strawberries, classic chocolate cake, blushing pink frosting, and a gorgeous glaze?  Who could as for more?

Chocolate Cherry Pavlova recipe

Chocolate Cherry Pavlova
If you are lucky enough to already have cherries in stock this season, then this pavlova is the first thing you should make with them.  But don't worry, you can always substitute in whatever else you have on hand.  Berries, figs, roasted rhubarb – they all work.  Pavlova is actually one of my mother's favorite desserts.  The meringue is so light and crisp while the cream is like pillowy clouds from heaven.  I bet your mom will love it too.