How to Fill Layer Cakes Video

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan

Here is some more information for those seeking tips on How to Fill Layer Cakes. My professional bakery method involves building layer cakes in pans, which yields solid puck and brick-shaped cakes that are easy to carve and frost. If you are new to this method, go here: How to Fill Layer Cakes in the Baking Pan

VIDEO Series: Cake Filling & Freezing

More on How to Fill Layer Cakes in the Pan
More on How to Freeze Cakes

I’ve used this method as a pastry chef while working in various bakeries to make cakes for wholesale, retail, or weddings. It also can be done at home.  As long as you have a deep pan, you can make it work with any shaped cake.

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan

Remember to add an extra day to your cake schedule for freezing and defrosting the cake/s.

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan
Note: Most cakes can stand a good freeze overnight. In fact it’s easier to deal with layer cakes, especially half sheet cakes, full sheet cakes, and large wedding cake tiers, when they are quite cold. Freshness can be maintained by keeping the cakes sealed in two layers of plastic wrap at all times. Follow this link to read about how to freeze cake.

Benefits to this Cake Filling Method

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan

► This method yields more even layers, which means that the resulting cake is more stable and looks better when cut.

► This method is easier to execute than making free-form cakes. Free-form cakes are less stable and often lead to problems with crookedness.

► Even if your cake layers are cracked or broken, you can still piece them together in the pan using this method and the cake will come together nicely.

► This method reduces the amount of frosting that’s needed to crumb coat and frost a cake because there are no gaps and uneven parts that need filling.

► This method reduces the amount of time that’s needed to frost basic cylinder, square, and rectangles cakes because the filled cake starts out neat and tidy, in the exact same shape as the desired result.

► Because the cake fillings get pushed all the way to the edges of the pan, you don’t get air pockets in the cake when using this method. (Air pockets due to unevenly-filled cakes can cause gas bulges to form underneath frosting and fondant.)

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Here Are the Best Cake Pans for This Method Best Cake Pans to Buy More Info Here: Filling Layer Cakes in the Baking Pan
Layer Cake Filling in the Pan

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How to Fill Layer Cakes Video


How to Fill Layer Cakes Video — 115 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for these video tutorials! I sincerely appreciate you sharing your expertise, and all the valuable tips! I will certainly look for your book, hope it’s still available!

  2. Hello and thanks for the great tutorial, you mentioned 10 formula cake filling in your free video, does that means 10 recipe because I have purchased your smooth butter cream video and I did not see any such things.

  3. Hi.. When im ganaching my cakeusing acrylic boards, and taking off the excess, the cake also gets pulled off along with it. Plus in some areas, it feels hollow inside. When i try to push in the rosting, it feels like im damaging the cake.. Can u pls help..

    • This is the problem with acrylic. It’s slippery. When it comes to smaller sized cakes, no matter what kind of surface you use, they have a tendency to slip around. The trick is to use less pressure as you frost.

  4. Good afternoon would the freezing method work if your doing fondent. Do you cover with the fondent then freeze or you freeze then cover cakes with fondent?

  5. Oh…I forgot to say that it will be a semi naked cake. Not sure if that will have an impact on your answer.

  6. Hi, So happy to have found this website! I’m making a wedding cake and transporting it 4 hours. A vanilla cake with Italian meringue buttercream. Does this type of frosting hold up well in this freezing method? I was thinking I’d pipe a thick dam around the edge of the pan and then add a layer of fresh raspberries and then a thin layer of buttercream on top of them. If I can’t get fresh raspberries, can I use frozen? And if so, would I thaw them first or put them in frozen?Any other advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hello and welcome! Yes, Italian meringue definitely works as a filling using this method. Frozen raspberries will be just fine. I recommend keeping them frozen as they will be easier to handle as you fill the cake. It’s important that the berries get layered against at least one layer of cake sponge. The way you described doing it is just right. Be sure to keep the berries away from the edges of the filling layers so they don’t stain the outside of the cake. The dam you are planning to pipe ought to be just enough distance in that regard. It sounds like you have a good plan! I hope it goes well. Please come back to post photos and let us know how it went!

      • Thanks for quick reply! One more question…do you ever put the dowels in before freezing?

        • By the time you’re into the frosting and doweling stage, you should be already done using the freezer. With that said, yes, I have done it as a pastry chef on a few occasions when an event got rescheduled and I had no choice but to re-freeze the cake in its finished form. But that was the exception to the rule.

  7. Hi, I will definitively try this method, question to depan it I do not own a blow torch and not comfortable with using the hair dryer, could I just let it thaw until it comes out of the pan?

    • Nope. That’s not how this technique works. If you don’t own either device, you can always still use a hot water bath. Another option is a heat gun.

  8. Hey I just found your site…it just popped up!!! I just finished watching how you fill your cakes and I find it to be a wonderful option!! I have been decorating cakes for quiet some time now and I will most defiantly use this way from now on!!!

  9. Hi there! Will this method work with fondant covered cakes as well? I have a tendency to underfill my layers in fear of the dreaded fondant bulge from the weight of the fondant. Thank you!

    • Yes this method works awesomely with fondant cakes. Actually, underfilling cakes is one of the things that causes bulges to occur as that traps air bubbles inside of layers. Then when the temperature of the cake goes up, the air expands and as the cake settles, the air starts pushing out. So it’s better for the filling to be 100% filled and this method really helps with that. I used to work in a bakery that made a lot of fondant cakes and we used this method so I can attest that it works well! Always avoid soft fillings too of course.

  10. Awesome, but I was wondering if I have to add any grease like oil in the pan and flour before a freeze, to make easier when I’m going to get it out, and can I use another method to get it out because I don’t have a blow torch to heate.

    • Yes you can use a blow drier in place of a torch. If you want to add something to make it easy to pull out, line the sides with parchment or wax paper and leave a collar around the top so you have something to grip onto.

  11. Hi, I’ve enjoyed reading and learning from your baking experience. Thank you for sharing something that you’ve personally invested time and money with all of us. This is a huge gift to all of us. On to my question, I’m an avid baker and have been baking for 25 years averaging 10 to 12 large cakes a year for close friends and family. I have been having problems with fillings oozing from the cakes after decorating as well as bulging middles. I love your technique of filling in the pan. I’m in the process of making my 1st son’s wedding cake for Nov. 20, 2015 and am concerned about this. I’m using chocolate mousse as the fillings. I feel like this will be a stable filling but was looking to see if you ever posted your stable fillings post talked about in an earlier comment? I think I’ll use your fill in pan technique. My cakes are baked and in the freezer. I normally bake 2″ cake layer and fill between the layers with just one layer of filling, mainly to avoid the filling from running out. Maybe this is part of my problem, I’ve never baked 3″- 4″ cakes and then torting the cakes. I also have trouble getting my cakes straight and level. I can definitely see how this technique will solve that problem. My son’s cake is going to be fondant and I think this technique will make the finished fondant look better than in my past cakes. I usually try to steer my friends and family to buttercream to avoid fondant but the cake my son and bride have chosen buttercream is not a good option. I’m a strong believer in producing cakes in stages and not in a hurry. I will spread out the process over a week or so, freezing between steps, working in manageable increments in hope to reduce stress and allow for unforeseen problems. I also work full time giving full days to decorating is not usually a luxury for me. If all works out as planned I’ll post a picture of the cake for you. Thank you again.

  12. I am beyond happy that I found your page, I believe now that I will be able to make my Momma’s wedding cake with all of your tips. It will be a Valentine’s Day Wedding so I have plenty of time to practice.

  13. Thank you so much for this tutorial, I feel so relieved, I’m doing a 4 tier wedding cake next month (October 2015) and I was getting a bit anxious about the amount of work it was going to be to do all the touting and building. I’m doing all buttercream frosting for each layer, after the cakes are baked and cooled is when I take them out the pan, tort them and relayer in the pan and freeze right?

    • Yes that’s right and you should have good results using all buttercream as the filling since it’s more stable than most fillings. Remember to first make room in your freezer, clear out your schedule that week, and make sure to leave yourself plenty of time to eat/sleep. Good luck with this project!

  14. Hi, I just wanted to say that I am loving your site! I have a question as to how you get your filling layers so even though?

  15. Hi good day, I just used your method of filling my cake and carving it while semi frozen and it worked out great. I just want to say thank you and may God richly bless you in return for sharing knowledge with us.

  16. I just saw your article on cake tin.I have just bought a cake tin that is 8″×2.75″ nonstick springform.pls can u tell if it is good to use recipes that call for deep pan.Because it is very hard to find deep pan and I found this.I bake at home and planning to take orders.pls can u suggest me some cake recipes that I can use in this pan.

  17. What if I want to use this method but want my cake to be taller than the 4in pan?

    • Katie,
      You can extend the height of the pan using acetate strips, parchment paper or wax paper. The acetate is sturdy enough to hold up on its own while the parchment or wax paper would need to be doubled up (fold in half to double the strength).

  18. many congratulations on putting up such a fab blog, i am huge fan 😛
    i love ur book and hve just started with modelling chocolate.

    just one question, can i use cling film, in the pans for this procedure?, will it not make the de- paning easy?

    • Pooja,
      Thank you! Indeed, there is reason for my not suggesting cling film, which is that it is not always strong enough to tolerate this procedure without ripping. Especially when freezing is involved, which makes cling film brittle and more likely to shatter. I’ve noticed with trial and error that it can easily get folded into the edges of filling, rip off, then remain stuck inside the cake. This is especially the case with the two standard shaped cakes, square and cylinder, because within those pans there are edges and corners where the plastic wrap is more likely to get creased and folded in.

      There is one shape of cake that is better at tolerating the help of a cling film liner during the filling process and that is the half sphere cake.

      A better bet for when making standard shapes is to line the sides of the pan with strips or squares of parchment paper, wax paper, or acetate. Note to all readers that the last two should be used only after baking. I do not suggest making a habit of this in a bakery setting as it is neither efficient nor cost effective to do in high volume. However for the occasional cake at home, it’s fine and will certainly help when it comes to removing the cake from the pan. Thanks for asking a good question.

      • OKAY!,
        yes , it does makes sense, and i m sure it’s gonna work in a spherical mould.
        thnx a bunch for clearing my doubt.
        will soon post a pic of my cake , using ur method :))
        keep penning and guiding bakers like us 🙂

        god bless.
        happy baking.
        regards, pooja,
        India <3

  19. I am filling a wedding cake with a raspberry filling and using your fill and freeze method. Is it necessary to add a layer of BC on top of the raspberry filling before I put the next layer on? I’m using an almond flavored simple syrup on each layer and then spreading fairly generous layer of raspberry filling. Just not sure whether to put some BC on top of the filling.

    Thanks for your help. I love your BC method!


  20. Sorry if this is a stupid question but I have had problems with fillings oozing out of sides if I don’t dam it. What stops your filling from oozing out of the sides once cake reaches room temperature?

  21. I did this method for a birthday cake, and it worked beautifully until….
    I had a buttercream frosting then applied a chocolate ganache that dripped down the sides (I should have taken a pic then). Placed in the refrigerator overnight. Everything was fine until I had to transport the cake (in a carrier) on 2 trains. Not sure if was the vibration of the trains and the heat (both trains were heated), the frosting and ganache slid and puddled (I was devastated). Once I got to my destination I smooth out both the frosting and ganache – looked somewhat like marble. Should I have applied the crumb coat after removing cake from freezer, then let the cake thaw before final coat? I noticed the ganache “sweated” after I applied it.

    • Deaner,
      It sounds like at least two factors contributed to the problem that occurred with your cake.

      1. The vibrations of the train – its back and forth lurching motion – would definitely contribute to this type of damage. I once transported a wedding cake over unfinished highway and the constant vibrations caused my piping and some of the frosting to inch down the sides of the cake.
      2. The heated cabin was not the ideal temperature for a long cake transport, especially with the added factor of vibration. If perchance the cake was also in your lap, that would have added even more heat to the equation.
      3. It is possible that between the crumb coat and ganache, moisture got trapped. That can also contribute to a less stable finish.

      Explanation of #3: Whenever you are about to final coat, ganache, or glaze a cake, you want to take it out of the freezer or fridge and cover its whole surface as rapidly as possible. Avoid letting the cake sit out at room temperature for any unneeded time before ganaching it as then it will naturally begin to develop condensation on its surface. If a layer of moisture gets trapped between the crumb coat and the ganache, then it can contribute to the loosening of the chocolate finish. That could happen whether or not you freeze the cake but freezing does increase the amount of condensation that can form on a cake’s surface, thus increasing the chance this could happen. With that said, I still prefer to glaze when a cake is semi-frozen. If I see a layer of moisture forming on the crumb coat, I dab it off with a paper towel.

      However based on the fact that even the buttercream came off the cake and as you describe, the entire finish was puddling, it sounds like #1 and #2 were the main factors causing your problem. If it was just the ganache that came off the cake, then the problem would more likely be related to combination of #1, #2 and #3.

      Next time, for that length of transport, use a cooler to keep the cake cold. Also, make sure your crumb coat and ganache layers are not too thick. Too much finish is more likely to weigh itself down and start pulling off the cake.

      It’s great to hear that you kept your head together in the midst of a cake crisis. Bravo for fixing the finish!

  22. Hi. I don’t own a blowtorch. I did see that someone used a hairdryer. I think I could manage that. What do you think about lining the cake tin with plastic film first for ease of removal?

    • Terri,
      Yes indeed – you can always line the tin entirely with parchment paper to make removal easier. I wouldn’t do this in a bakery environment because it would cause the cost of each cake to go up but for at-home baking, that would be a helpful shortcut. You can also use wax paper if you don’t happen to have parchment. Plastic wrap can technically be used as well but is not as ideal of a material. Since it becomes brittle when cold, it tears easily, so pieces of it can get trapped in or around the layers of filling and end up in the cake. One last option, although it would be the most expensive, is to use acetate strips.

      Even when you line the pan entirely, a frozen cake can still become fused into place and may still require a small blast of heat in order to be released. A blowdrier is a good substitute for a blowtorch. Just be careful in the summer time not to heat up your entire kitchen by blowing hot air into it. The advantage of the torch is that it is a concentrated source of heat that will warm only the pan, not also the air.

  23. would love some of your buttercream recipes – they’re what make or break a cake
    thank you so much for your time and willingness to share

  24. One more thing I wanna use buttercream cheese icing for fondant Mickey cake? Is it gonna work (butter cheese icing )
    And thanks for really quick reply:)

  25. hi heard lot of about this website and its really helpful.
    i wanna ask can we use these kind of filling (fruits,pudding,nuts)for fondant cake and wht are tip to doing that.kindly reply as soon as possible i have to make my son cake on Friday. thank you

    • Hina,
      See my answer to the comment proceeding yours as the question was similar. Definitely yes to nuts and fruits. As for pudding, that is one I have not tried personally but I understand it is entirely possible to freeze/thaw it. Good luck with your cake this week! – Kristen

  26. I love your freezing technique, it makes so much sense…my question is can this be done with fruit and cream filled cakes?? or just buttercream and ganache cakes?? thanks

    • Vicky,
      Thanks! Yes this method can be used with fruit and cream filled cakes. I have seen it used in many bakeries for so very many different types of cakes. In my experience, the only kind of cake that doesn’t freeze well is one with Bavarian cream filling. Note that fresh berries will change in their texture after a freeze/thaw so make sure to layer them against the cake sponge, which will be happy to soak up the juices that inevitably leak out of the fruit. Almost every type of cake will benefit from being frozen at the layering stage.

  27. Please advise
    Once the cake is de panned do you use a bigger size cakw nord then the cake or same size … I would think a bigger onevas you need room for the icing or ganache .. and then after icing the cake can I freeze it again and then spray with water and then apply fondant …

    • I would use the same size cake board as the cake so you don’t have cardboard sticking out through your icing or ganache. I would also use a larger size board as a working platform so you have a way of moving the cake around without having to touch it.

      I would not re-freeze the cake after it’s been frosted. I would frost and cover it with fondant while the cake is in the process of thawing for the first time. That way, you don’t have to stress the cake by re-freezing it.

      There is no need to spray a cake with water before applying fondant. Cakes naturally develop condensation while thawing and that moisture on the surface of buttercream is always enough of an adhesive for fondant to cling to.

  28. Hi! Okay, I also had a big of cake shrinkage when I filled and stacked in the pan (using baking paper to extend upward). But the blow dryer worked great for releasing the cake from the pan.

    Now the big question – I have read that we should thaw a cake while its still wrapped in plastic wrap…So I rewrapped the cake after releasing from the pan. But I also heard that it might be easy to crumb coat the cake when it is cold.

    When can I take the plastic wrap off and finish off the decorating. I froze the cake overnight, released from pan at 5 AM and my cake is due the next day.

  29. Hi … your website is AWESOME! I was wondering how to layer and fill my cakes if I only have 2 inch high pans. Any suggestions?

    • Hello and thanks! You have two options. The first option is that you can extend the lip of a shallow pan by making a parchment, wax paper, or acetate collar.

      The second option only applies if you have multiples of the same 2″ pan. The idea is to sandwich two pans together to make one 4″ deep vessel. Start building your cake in one of the pans, piling the layers up and beyond the height of the pan. As soon as the cake is complete, invert the second pan and slide it down over the exposed part – Just remember to put a piece of parchment paper on top of the cake first to prevent the sponge from sticking to the roof of the inverted pan. Wrap both pans together tightly with plastic wrap making sure they are perfectly aligned to avoid a crooked cake. It’s more challenging to de-pan a cake like this but I have successfully used this method to build cakes that are twice as tall as my own pans.

  30. Will this technique work with a 12 inch cake? Is it better to use a three inch pan for such a layer cake and use the heating core? I need my finished tier to be 4″.

    • Yes, a 12″ layer cake is much easier to build within the pan. I would definitely use a heating core when baking and for that size, it would be better to bake it in 2 pans before assembling it in one. If you have 3″ pans, you can always extend the lip to make a collar out of parchment paper, wax paper, or acetate so that the height of the pan is 4″ when you fill the cake. I would check first to make sure that a 12″ diameter pan fits in your freezer.

  31. For how long can cake layers filled with buttercream be kept in the freezer using this method. You wrote that the whole cylinder should stay over night, but could it stay that way let’s say for a week or two before depanning and decorating?

    Also, if I have plain layers of cake that are baked, wrapped individually and frozen can I still use this method? That is, remove from the freezer, layer in a deep pan with buttercream and freeze for everything to set together?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    • In a home freezer, it’s possible to hold a cake for a number of weeks provided that the freezer is not overly packed. However it’s better to limit freezer time to 1-3 days as home freezers tend to have a lot of other flavors (like meat or fish) that can infiltrate a cake. In a sub-zero bakery freezer that’s dedicated exclusively to cakes and pastries, it’s possible to hold un-decorated cakes for months.

      Yes, you can also freeze the sliced cake layers before assembly. I recommend inserting a parchment paper pan liner or piece of wax paper in between each layer so that they don’t get fused together. Seal them well before freezing. Then you can build the cake using those cold layers…in fact it’s easier to handle them that way.

  32. I am going to try this method. It looks sooo easy. I have always created a dam around the edge before filling. From what I have seen and read of the tutorial and replies, this isn’t necessary accept where using a fruit filling, correct? And, in using your method, I won’t have the bulging look under the fondant? How much icing do you using when crumbing a cake?

    • Right – you don’t need a dam unless the filling is soft. That’s the kind of thing you often learn by trial and error. This method does help reduce bulges due to air pockets getting trapping where the filling is not flush with the cake.

      When it comes to crumb coating a cake, you only need enough icing to seal the surface. The cake itself should still show through but be completely covered.

      • Thank you! By the way, I love the blog and the book!!! I haven’t totally gone the modelling chocolate route. I worry it might create a more expensive cake and people wouldn’t want that. Do you charge much more than a fondant covered cake?

        • Thanks, Kimberly 🙂 I always charged the same price for modeling chocolate and fondant because even though the modeling chocolate is more expensive, it rolls out so much thinner that I can use half as much for any given project compared to fondant.

  33. Hi, I have a question- when cakes are cooked they always shrink a little so in theory the cake layers would not be exactly the same size as the cake tin. Would this method still work???

    • Yes I know what you mean about the shrinkage but it definitely still works. If your cake shrinks a lot, I recommend building it up against one side of the pan and making a collar using parchment or wax paper. Then you might want to stuff some extra paper into the remaining crevice to prevent the cake from shifting.

  34. Thanks for sharing. I have done this technique last week and loved kt but I encountered some problem. My filling was chocolate mousse and I ganached the entire cake. But I cannot smooth the ganache and cannot even make my ganache stick on the mousse part. Can you help me with this please? Thank you!

    • Certainly! You need to add a thin layer of buttercream (a crumb coat) to a cake before you ganache it. Allow that to set in the fridge until it’s very cold and hard before adding ganache to the cake. Make sure the ganache is tepid, not warm, when you start using it. If it’s too warm, it won’t stick as well. Transfer the cake back to the fridge immediately after enrobing it.

  35. what other fillings other than butter-cream would i be able to use?? i use the wilton recepie, Crisco, powder sugar , meringue powder , vanilla and milk. would this work? i mean for when it thaws will it bulge or spill out?

    • Yes this would work. Crisco is solid at room temperature. I like to use ganache (50:50 chocolate & cream) or all-butter buttercream, which can be flavored many ways, or chocolate buttercream (my buttercream recipes are in this book)or pureed fruit or whole, fresh fruit.

    • I like to use sturdy fillings for my cakes. I tend to use real butter-based buttercreams (either chocolate or vanilla) as the base for my fillings and to that I will add flavorings like jams or fresh fruit and up to 50% cream cheese. I do not like to use loose fillings for cakes as they have a tendency to squish out, and that’s not desirable.

  36. I love your site, great tutorials. Do you have cakes and filling recipes anywhere? Everything looks so yummy!

    • Hello and thanks! I like to use sturdy fillings for my cakes. I tend to use real butter-based buttercreams (my chocolate & vanilla buttercream recipes are in my book) as the base for my fillings and to that I will add flavorings like jams or fresh fruit and up to 50% cream cheese. I do not like to use loose fillings for cakes as they have a tendency to squish out, and that’s not desirable.

  37. Hi, your tutorials are great! Getting ready to make one of your designs. Ordering your book off of amazon..does it include recipes for cakes and frostings??

  38. Hi, do you have any issues after the cake has been decorated of the filling oozing out once the cake becomes at room temperature, especially in warmer temperatures? Thanks.

    • That only happens if you use an unstable filling. If you have that problem, I’d recommend switching to a sturdier filling. Alternatively, you can pipe a ring of buttercream around the edges of each filling layer to create a dam effect to hold it all in. But I highly recommend just switching your filling with something that can stand up on its own.

  39. you have 3 perfect layers of cake what do use to obtain such even layers ?
    thank you
    just a novice baker here

  40. I do all my cakes this way, but I’ve been using a bottomless cake ring lined with acetate, then I just push the cake out the top like a push up popsicle and remove the acetate. I’ll have to try your version sometime.

  41. Thank you! Great video! I have your book and I am only using modeling chocolate now, I appreciate all of your help.
    Do you recommend using 4 inch pans to do this type of filling? I have all of the 3 inch pans, but I imagine if I torte the cake, it will need to be in a 4 inch pan.

    • Thanks for buying my book! So glad to hear you are having success with the modeling chocolate. The 3″ pans are the best fit for home ovens. 4″ are better for a bakery setting, where there’s more room in the ovens. I prefer the 4″ pans because I’m in the habit of making that sized cake but I own and use both sizes.