One of my most frequently asked questions (aside from what my favorite buttercream recipe is and how I get my buttercream cakes smooth): “how in the world do you move a cake off the turntable and onto a cake stand without ruining the finish?” Transferring a cake, whether it’s onto a stand or into a box, can be totally nerve wracking if you’ve never done it before. After you’ve spent so much time decorating, the last thing you want to do is mess up all of your work before anyone gets the chance to see the cake in its most perfect state! In hopes of saving you extra stress, today’s Cake Basics is all about the method I use for transferring my cakes once they’re decorated.
A note on this cake stand pictured above: I get asked about where it can be purchased all the time, and sadly I haven’t been able to find the same one online! It was a birthday gift from my sister in law many years ago, before Sugar & Sparrow was even a twinkle in my eye. I did find this very similar one on Amazon that you can feel free to check out. And as for where I get my other cake stands, I’ve had great luck at thrift shops, Target, eBay, and Amazon (here’s another one I use all the time).
Before I get to the written tutorial below, here is a quick video I whipped up of the process showing two different styles of cake: one with a buttercream finish and one with sprinkles around the bottom edge. Give it a watch before you read on:
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You Will Need
Step 1: Prep The Cake
There are two things that are essential when it comes to a successful cake transfer: 1) a solid foundation underneath the cake and 2) a chilled cake. First, the cake needs to have been stacked on a cardboard cake circle in the filling and stacking process to ensure it has a sturdy foundation. This method will not work if you don’t have a firm foundation beneath that cake, because it’s nearly impossible to lift a layer cake that’s just sponge on the bottom. It might work with a cake lifter, but even still, I highly recommend building your layer cakes on a cardboard cake circle for easy maneuvering,
Second, I always start the transfer with a chilled cake. To make sure the cake is nice and chilled before attempting to move it, place it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer. This will get that buttercream finish nice and solid so that if you do end up touching the cake finish during the transfer, you won’t fingerprint it easily.
Step 2: Heat the Spatula
Once the cake is nice and chilled, heat up an angled spatula by running it under some hot water for a few seconds, then drying it thoroughly with a towel.
Heating the spatula will help create a clean edge in the next step.
Step 3: Release the Cake From the Turntable
Now that the spatula is warm, run it all along the bottom edge of the cake to release it from the turntable. You’ll want to keep the spatula as close and parallel to the turntable as possible to get a clean edge around the bottom of the cake.
As you go around, the seal between the buttercream frosted cake and the turntable will be completely released.
Once you’ve gone around the entire cake, work your spatula underneath to lift up one side.
Step 4: Move the Cake
With your spatula lifting one side of the cake, slide one hand underneath the cake. Remove the spatula and place your other hand beneath the cake and slowly lift it up.
Move the cake over to the stand, going as slowly as you’d like.
Once you’ve made it to the stand, gently lower the cake and keep one edge of it lifted to pivot the cake around where you want it. Then, slide the angled spatula back underneath and gently lower the cake edge before removing the spatula.
Notice that I’ve got my finger covering the area above the spatula to prevent the buttercream finish from sliding off with the spatula.
Step 5: Fix Any Areas (If Necessary)
Now that the cake is safe and sound on the stand, I like to slightly re-heat my spatula using the hot water method shown in step 2 and run it all around the bottom edge of the cake to press in any areas that look flared out or imperfect from the transfer. This helps to make the cake look even more flawless!
And there you have it! All my best tips for moving your cake onto a stand, all while keeping it looking picture perfect. You can use this same method for moving a cake into a box, onto a serving plate, or wherever your cake needs to end up.
If you want to learn more about cake baking and decorating, be sure to follow along with this Cake Basics series and all of the fun cake decorating videos I release on my YouTube page. Hit that subscribe button over there so you never miss a new video. And PS: I’m always thinking of new Cake Basics topics to help you learn, so if there’s something you’d love for me to cover please leave a comment below with your idea!