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

Birthday Oreo Layer Cake

A fanciful cake made up of both chocolate and confetti cake layers, whipped buttercream and Oreo frosting.  To top it off? A drippy chocolate glaze and sprinkles, of course!

Birthday Oreo Cake with confetti cake, chocolate cake, and oreo frosting.

I recently read a piece about how to be a better recipe writer.  In the piece was a quote from Ina Garten.  I can’t remember what it said exactly, but it basically stated that Ina tries to make the star ingredient of each of her dishes shine by adding the least amount of supporting flavours in order to make it taste amazing.  For example, if she were to make a plum tart, it better taste like plums - with maybe only a few spices and citrus to help bring out the natural flavours of the plums.  Nothing overly complex or unnecessarily complicated.

This cake it not that.

Birthday Oreo Cake with confetti cake, chocolate cake, and oreo frosting.
Birthday Oreo Cake with confetti cake, chocolate cake, and oreo frosting.

This cake takes all of our childhood dreams and crams them into one unapologetic layer cake.  This cake combines Oreos and confetti cake to make one epic birthday cake.  No, this cake is not for a child.  It is for my husband.  The man with a bigger sweet tooth than me.  And while he turned 33 years old this morning, you would never guess it if you could hear him giggling as he chases our screaming (with delight) toddler around the living room as I type this up.  May you always stay young at heart, Brett!  Happy Birthday - we love you!

Birthday Oreo Cake with confetti cake, chocolate cake, and oreo frosting.
Birthday Oreo Cake with confetti cake, chocolate cake, and oreo frosting.

Birthday Oreo Cake

Confetti Cake
from Layered

1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup sprinkles

Pre-heat the oven to 350-degrees F.  Grease and flour two 6-inch round cake pans and set aside.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the butter on medium until smooth.  Add in the sugar and mix on medium-high until fluffy and pale in colour.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.  

With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time.  Mix until incorporated.

With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and milk in alternating batches.  Mix just until the batter is incorporated.  Do not over-mix.  Fold in the sprinkles until combined.

Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 24 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack from 10 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

 

Chocolate Cake
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup hot coffee or hot water

Pre-heat the oven to 350-degrees F.  Grease and flour two 6-inch round cake pans and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the oil and sugar until combined.  With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla and egg, and egg yolk. 

With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and milk in alternating batches.  Mix just until the batter is incorporated. Stream in the hot coffee and mix until combined.

Evenly distribute the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 24 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  Let cool on a wire rack from 10 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Birthday Oreo Cake with confetti cake, chocolate cake, and oreo frosting.
Birthday Oreo Cake with confetti cake, chocolate cake, and oreo frosting.

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
5 1/2 to 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 to 6 tablespoons cream or milk

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium until smooth.  With the mixer on low, gradually add in the remaining ingredients.  Once the sugar begins to incorporate, turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes).  Adjust the sugar and cream quantities until desired consistency is achieved.

Oreo Frosting
1/4 cup crushed Oreo cookies (about 6 cookies, filling removed) or plain chocolate wafer cookies
remaining vanilla buttercream

Fold in the crushed cookies into the remaining buttercream after the cake has been filled and the crumb coat has been applied.  If you wish to have colored Oreo frosting, be sure to add in the food coloring before the cookies to keep from over-mixing and the frosting from turning grey.

Chocolate Glaze
2 ounces chopped chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
pinch salt

Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt down the butter and corn syrup.  Once hot, pour over the chocolate and let stand 30 seconds.  Add a pinch of salt and whisk until smooth.  Allow glaze to cool (but still runny) before dripping on the cake (about 10 minutes in the refrigerator).

Assembly

Once the cakes have cooled, trim them so that all of the layers are the same height.  Place one of the chocolate cake layers on a cake board or serving dish.  Spread on about 1/2 to 3/4 cups whipped vanilla buttercream.  Top with one of the confetti cake layers and repeat.  

Crumb coat the cake with the whipped vanilla frosting.  Reserve some plain vanilla frosting for piping details (if desired) before tinting the frosting.

Tint the frosting the colour of your choice then fold in the oreo crumbs.  Frost the cake with the Oreo frosting then chill until firm.  

Once the cake has chilled and the glaze has cooled, use a spoon to apply drips around the edges of the cake.  Fill in the center and spread with an offset spatula.  Add sprinkles before the glaze sets.  Use any remaining frosting to pipe swirly peak with a star tip in the center of the cake.  Top with more sprinkles, if desired.

For more drippy cake tips, click HERE!