I began with 9" cake rounds and proceeded to make 3/8" layers, about the height of my pinkie finger (give or take depending on finger size). Starting from the bottom and using my serrated knife, I gently held it level to the cake base and with my other hand spun the cake wheel and let the knife cut through the cake and after a couple of turns it came across cleanly. I cut three even layers in this same fashion. I kept them stacked and with a slow sawing motion cut downwards to remove the brown crust of the sides of the cake. *Any layer of cake that had a brown crust top or bottom and was to be used as a middle layer, had the crust gently rubbed or cut off.
The Italian Meringue buttercream recipe used for a 5 quart mixer is as follows:
-1 lb granulated sugar
-8 fl oz cold water
-6 oz egg whites
-1 lb unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
-1 tbsp vanilla extract
I placed my bottom layer onto a cardboard cake round on top of the cake wheel and used my medium offset spatula to put the buttercream onto the layer. I wanted my layers of buttercream to be as thick as those of cake, and finished the remaining layers in the same way. I made sure each layer was flat before starting the next. I applied a thin coating on the sides of the layers and the top, keeping the top even and smooth and the edges crisp. I used my bench scrapper to smooth my sides as I spun the cake wheel.
Crumb coating cake layers with Italian buttercream
The crumb coat is a thin layer to trap the crumbs of the cake within the first layer and to prevent crumbs from appearing in the final coat of buttercream.
I practiced writing with chocolate using a parchment paper cone, choosing a Happy Birthday message. I also finished the cake with a pearl shell border along the top and bottom edges. This gave the cake a more finished appearance.