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Jan 19, 2012 03:38 PM

How to turn a 2-layer cake into a 4-layer cake?

I am planning to make a red velvet cake for an upcoming birthday (namely, the Lee Bros. Red Velvet Cake recipe, which includes orange zest!), and the recipe calls for the cake to be made as two 9" layers.

I would like to try making this cake as a four-layer cake, because the tall cakes seem elegant and fashionable these days. In fact, it's pictured as four layers online:

Doubling the recipe doesn't seem quite right; that would be a huge cake. I calculated that the area of a 9" cake pan is 63.61" and an 8" pan is 50.27", so one option is to do three 8" layers that are slightly thinner than the 9" layers would be, I guess; alternatively, I could increase the recipe by 50% and make 4 of the 8" layers (since 4 8" layers is roughly the same area as 3 9" layers would be).

But maybe I'm over-complicating this.

Has anyone ever done this successfully, and if so, do you have a formula you could share?

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  1. Just slice the layers in half with a large serrated knife (easiest done if cake has been in the freezer for a couple hours first so it doesn't tear it up.) Work slowly and evenly across it. Its pretty common to do it this way but I'm impressed that you did the math.

    If you want a really big cake (LOTS of height) then you double the recipe and make twice as many cakes so you can use a whole one for each layer.

    3 Replies
    1. re: weezieduzzit

      You can also get an inexpensive cake splitter - any store that carries cake decorating supplies should have them for no more than $5. They're basically a piece of wire strung tight between two posts - you set the height of the wire and just sort of drag it through your cake. It's the best way to make sure you get perfectly even layers.

        1. re: magiesmom

          word of caution. Wire has cut my palms, dental floss never has.

    2. The simplest solution is to bake your layers as usual, and split each of the 2 layers horizontally to yield 4 layers. Let cake(s) cool COMPLETELY before attempting to split. Use a long serrated knife, and take care to handle the layers carefully as they will be much more fragile. I noticed in the picture that the top of the cake is domed for a more rustic look, but if you want a more refined look then trim the tops until they are flat.

      1. If you chill the two baked layers for 10 mins and then use non-waxed dental floss to slice thru each you'll have your 4 layers easily.

        3 Replies
        1. re: HillJ

          Yes. What HillJ said. If you don't think you can get it straight, put some toothpick markers around the layers to guide you.

          1. re: sandylc

            In addition to the toothpicks to guide the knife, tape a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil to the top side of the knife. As you cut, the knife will pull the parchment along with it, so you can safely, easily lift the top half off.

        2. based on the fact that you calculated out the volumes, id say yes, you are probably overcomplicating it.

          just cut each layer in half and make extra (lots) frosting. can guide your cutting with anything flat and about half the height of a single layer, laid right beside the layer as you cut (the lip of a sheet pan normally works pretty well)

          1. I agree with everyone else, just bake it as a normal 2 layer the recipe is written for and then once they are completely cooled split them. It's easiest if you have cake rounds to slide between the cut layers to lift off.