Cake Baking ?
I am baking a 4 layer chocolate cake for father's day. Should I bake 2 layers and split them or bake 4 layers. Willing to do whichever way gets me the best cake.
For most cakes 2 layers split would be fine. However , type of cake and size of layer does factor into the equation.
I would bake your cakes in 2 separate pans, that way you only have to cut off the tops of 2 cakes (to make it even so when you invert the one cake onto the other it stays flat and your icing won't slide) instead of 4. Leftover cake tops are also good for a mini rendition of a trifle!
I would bake in 2 pans and then split the layers so that baking time will not be adjusted. If all the cakes dome, then the cake may get a little floppy. Plus, isn't it better to bake cake batter right away so that the baking powder does not lose its rising power?
Splitting the cakes will give you a moister cake since less surface is exposed to the heat - that's why it's my preferred method. However, you will have crumbs to deal with - best way to do that is to "seal" any surfaces where crumbs would taint your frosting with a light coat of frosting,
2 layers is way easier than 4. Just split them. baking911.com has great tips for icing cakes. Use a skim coat over the entire cake after layers have been layered. Let that sit in the fridge for half an hour before the final coat. No problem with crumbs that way. Also, use toothpicks to mark the centre of the layer to help you cut it. Works well.
Splitting is pretty much standard. The trick is you do want to overfill your cake pans just enough that the cake rises so the sides of the cake come up even with the top of the sides of the pan. Then with a long sharp knife, such as a ham slicer, after cooling the cakes and returning them to the pan, slice the domed top off even with the top of the pan. Then take two long dowels or pieces of wood that are pretty close to half the thickness of the trimmed cake, set the cakes, one layer at a time, on a saran wrap surface with the wood pieces on each side of the cake and slice the cake in half using those to rest your long slicing knife on. You will end up with perfectly cut level layers.
Or, if you think you may be baking a four layer cake again any time soon, Wilton makes a cake slicer specifically for this purpose, and you can pick them up in most WalMarts for around five bucks last I checked the price. They work great.
A traditional technique for reducing crumbs (you do NOT want crumbs sticking to your frosting!) is to make an apricot glaze (sieve apricot jam or preserves and boil with a drop or so of water) and paint the top of each cake layer with that. If you're using a filling (as opposed to frosting) between the layers, doesn't really matter.
Good luck and fave fun!