Layer Cake Video Series – Part 2 – Filling and Depanning

Cake Filling Method
This video demonstrates how to build stable layer cakes in the baking pan, a professional cake filling method that involves freezing and defrosting cakes during the construction process. If you are new to this method, I recommend starting here: How to Fill Layer Cakes in the Baking Pan.

VIDEO: Cake Filling Method – Filling & Depanning

This is Part 2
Link to Part 1: Freezing Cake
Link to Part 3: Condensation
Read BB Bakes Sugar Art Heat Gun Hack
More on How to Freeze Cakes
More on How to Fill Layer Cakes in the Pan


The trick to this method is to use the baking pan not just for baking the cake sponge but also for filling your sliced cake layers and holding them all together.

Recommended Cake Pans for This Method

It is not a requirement but it helps to own deep baking pans, which are more versatile. If you do a high volume of baking and want your pans to last a lifetime – especially if you run a bakery business – then I recommend investing in anodized aluminum pans, which heat faster and cool quicker. For conventional home ovens, 3” deep pans are a good fit. If you use larger commercial ovens, then 4” deep pans are even better. The advantage to deep pans is that they hold more cake. If you use a heating core, you can bake more batter at once.

Best Cake Pans to Buy Follow this link to explore the best options for cake baking pans that double as molds for layer cake making.

Recommended Cake Fillings

Once you’ve baked your cakes and set them out to cool, it’s time to prepare the fillings. It’s important to choose stable cake fillings. You don’t want soft squishy fillings in between your layers. My most reliable filling recipes are here: 11 Stable Cake Filling Flavors.

Cake Filling Recipes Follow this link to explore the concept of a Streamlined Cake Menu including 11 Stable Layer Cake Filling Recipes.

Recommended Cake Slicing Method

Once your fillings are ready and the cake sponge is fully cooled down, it’s time to slice it into layers. Check out my cake slicing tutorial to learn how to cut even layers.

How to Slice Cake Layers - Wicked Goodies

Working with Pan Liners

Now you’re going to build the layer cake back into the baking pan but first, let’s stop and talk about liners for a minute. I mean the parchment paper that you use to line the bottom of the pan during the baking phase.

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan

Don’t remove it when you’re slicing the cake because it will come in handy during the assembly stage. Ideally, here’s how it should go. Usually it takes two sponges to make one layer cake. Let’s say you cut each sponge into two layers for a total of four layers. As you add the filling, you want to arrange the layers like so within the pan, beginning with a paper-lined layer then flipping the last layer upside down so you also end with a paper-lined layer. On the bottom end, the paper prevents the cake from sticking to the pan. On the top end, it helps keep the cake flat and sealed.

The cake layer that comes attached to the parchment liner is always the neatest and squarest because it’s a little extra crusty from baking in the bottom of the pan, which makes it sturdier so you want to use it like bookends to sandwich your cake. This yields the most symmetrical shape. You can peel the paper off when the cake is ready to be frosted.

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan

When you build cakes into the pan, you can also line the sides of the pan with parchment paper. This will make the finished cake easier to remove. However it’s not a requirement. I don’t recommend lining the plan with plastic wrap as it can easily get pinched between the layers of the frozen cake and then rip off when you try to remove it.

How to Spread the Filling

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan

When adding the filling, it’s important to push it all the way out to the edges of the pan. Fill the empty space completely so there are no air pockets remaining. If the cake is too small for an offset spatula, use a bent spoon to spread the filling layers around. For large cake slices, use cardboard to lift and push them into the pan. Press down on the layers to flatten them and secure them to the below layer of filling. Seal the cake with two layers of plastic wrap before putting it in the freezer.

How to Extend the Height of the Pan Using a Cake Collar

Now if the cake pan is shallow or if you are building an especially tall cake, you can extend the walls of the pan using a collar made of acetate, parchment or wax paper.

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan

Simply tuck the collar around the edges of the pan. For square cakes, you’ll need to cut a piece for each side of the cake.

What to Expect When Freezing Fresh Fruit Fillings

Peach Berry Galette

If you are using whole fruit in your fillings, keep in mind that the freezing process will expand and release the natural juices. This will not affect flavor but it will loosen the texture of the fruit. The cake sponge will gladly absorb the juices so make sure to layer the fruit so it comes in contact with the sponge.

If the cake has shrunk considerably so there is a lot of extra space in the pan, you can build your layers up along one side of the pan or you can fill the blank space by piping buttercream into it. Then you will end up with a partly frosted cake. A cake like this is easier to crumb coat.

Options for Removing a Frozen Cake from the Pan

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan

Once the cake is frozen, it is time to remove it from the pan. Do not attempt this maneuver when the cake is still soft or it may fall apart.

Some bakers use the hot water bath method, which involves dipping the pan in hot water for 3-5 seconds or just long enough to loosen the sides of the cake. This method works especially well for small cakes and large scale bakery operations where you are working with the same sized cakes, but it’s harder to do on large cakes or different sized cakes.

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan My preferred method is to use a blowtorch to heat the sides of the pan. If you don’t own a torch, you can use a blow drier or a heat gun to do this same thing but a blow drier will blow hot air all over your kitchen, which is not ideal. You can also use the classic hot water bath method.

Invert the cake in its pan and place it on a turntable. Heat the sides and bottom of the pan evenly. Touch the pan. It should be warm – not hot.

Flip the pan so that the cake is face up. Do not delay at this stage or the cake will refreeze itself to the pan.

 Run a small offset spatula around the outside of the pan to release the contents.

Layer Cake Filling in the Pan

Sometimes the cake slides right out. Sometimes you have to jiggle it a little Sometimes you have to jiggle it a lot. Sometimes you have to turn it over and give it some more heat, run the spatula around the sides again, or shake the pan really hard.

The next video in this series is all about condensation, which is an important topic when it comes to frozen and refrigerated cakes. If you have any questions about the material in this video, please feel free to comment below.

This Was Part 2

Cake Filling Method


Link to Part 1: Freezing Cake
Cake Filling Method
Link to Part 3: Cake Condensation Solutions Cake Condensation

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Layer Cake Video Series – Part 2 – Filling and Depanning — 23 Comments

  1. Your videos are amazing! So clear, to the point and not rambling off the subject. I cannot tell you how many videos I stop watching halfway through because they go off subject. You do a great job explaining exactly what we came here to learn! Thank you.

  2. Is there a specific type of brand of acetate sheets you use?

    What if your cake pans are the standard 2 inches deep? Can you layer in those pans then flip them together one on top of the other? So the bottom of one pan is the top of the stacked pans?

  3. I’m not sure if this worked I thought I already posted it but first of all I wanted thank you for your time and all the great effort you put into your videos they are wonderfully explained. I was wondering if you’re feeling in the pan then freezing and release method was also good for something like a 4 tier wedding cake? Once again I greatly appreciate you keep up the amazing work.

  4. First of all I am absolutely enjoying every single video thank you for your time and craft. I was wondering is your freezing filling in the pan method good for a naked wedding cake and could you tell me what size pans these appear to be to you? I would like a four tier cake tall looking to feed at least 125 guest. I would so greatly appreciate the help thank you.

  5. Hi I’m totally in love with you…ahhh in love with your work. Thank you. I’d like a good recipe for red velvet cake.

  6. This video rates #1 in all the videos/classes that I’ve taken over the last few years. Making my first wedding cake using this Wicked Goodies video and the rave reviews of the taste/moistness of the cake made me realize that it’s perfectly okay to ‘freeze’ a cake.

    Preparing the cakes weeks in advance turned the stress level knob down to ‘zero.’ For the first time…ever…I actually had the time to have fun decorating the cakes. Relaxed & enjoyed the creative part of the designing (& that’s the purpose of caking…right?)

    I layered the cake, filled, popped on a cake circle, wrapped & allowed the cake to settle overnight on the counter, to ensure no air pockets/side bulging in the fondant. (The recipe I used is approved by the Cottage Laws, in my State, as safe for non-refrigeration for 1-week.) The next day, I unwrapped the cakes, used my small cake level, then rewrapped & froze the cakes.

    Have to be honest, probably looked in the freezer a 100 times, praying that I’d done the right thing.

    After defrosting in the fridge & using a heat gun, the cakes came out…BEAUTIFUL! The sides were level…top was level…& the buttercream had partially crumb coated the cake – sharp edges achieved. It was a miracle! Crumb coating was a ‘breeze.’

    I will never go back to being stressed for the week & burning the midnight oil. This video has changed the way I’ll bake & decorate cakes….forever.

    Thanks so much Kristen for sharing your knowledge. xoxox

  7. Hello! I can read your site like a novel. Enjoy it very much.
    I’m traveling on a dry-run to the wedding site in NC for appointments. My practice 6″ layer cakes are frozen, according to your stacked layer method. I was wondering if I packed these frozen cakes into a dry ice cooler would they survive that cold? -109F. They should remain totally frozen according to the dry ice info. Have you or anyone else tried this for travel?

    I was planning on refrigerator thawing once arrived and then crumb coating then frosting for the taste test. Originally I had asked you about traveling and you said to de-pan them and take in a cooler but I’m trying to replicate the actual wedding travel plans, and I wasn’t sure a defrosted cake could last for four days? Travel on Wednesday and wedding would be on a Saturday and that’s what I’m trying to replicate for this dry-run.

  8. Loved your videos….have a question; made a
    No bake cake– suggested to freeze four hours
    ( I did longer over nite). Out in refrigerator to
    Thaw. Party is 6pm. How long will it take to thaw
    It’s in a 8×12 pan. Made with cool whip and am
    Afraid if thaws too much will be like soup.
    Any suggestions would greatly appreciate.
    Thank you

    • I would have to know the height of the cake to be sure but 24 hours ought to be plenty of time if the cake was originally frozen solid. Cool whip is a stabilized product made mostly of hydrogenated oil, which remains solid at room temperature so it shouldn’t go soupy.

  9. How should the layers be arranged back into the pan if you originally only used ONE deep 4″ pan? Would the bottom layer (baked at bottom of pan) go back into the bottom or should I save it for the top? Thanks!

  10. Loved the video, thank you.
    How does this work for the settling process and any bulging on your crumb coat and or final coat?

    Thank you

    • It greatly lowers the potential for bulging since it minimizes the existence of air pockets getting trapped within the layers. However bulging is more commonly due to the filling layers being too soft to withstand the pressure of being inside a cake, in which case you need to explore different recipes or consider piping a dam around the edge of the filling.

  11. I have a questions regarding your filling. If you use a filling that is soft, wouldn’t you use a dam around the edge of the cake before filling it? I noticed the filling in the bent spoon method in the video and wondered if a filling that loose would ooze down the side of the cake and make it a mess when it came time to crumb coat or ice it. Thanks!

    • Good question. That was a very soft filling indeed. It was almond butter, which can be rather runny. When working with loose fillings such as almond butter or jam or jelly or citrus curd, as long as it’s a thin layer that’s applied directly to the cake sponge, it shouldn’t leak out. When a filling is that loose, it will soak into the sponge and basically fuse with it. One caveat is that you can’t spread a heavier filling on top of a thin one so if you are adding something else in between then you will need to spread your thick filling first then add the thin filling to the upper cake layer before inverting it into the pan.

      Normally I soak cake sponge with simple syrup but when loose fillings are involved, they act as the moisture component.

  12. Thank you so much for this! It has made my cake life sooooo much easier… and I’m not afraid to fill a sheet cake. I only wish I had invested in 3″ pans years ago.