A three-layer cake with a candied lemon slice on top
|Cake base (e.g. - sponge cake or butter cake), icing, jam or other filling|
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A layer cake is a cake consisting of multiple stacked sheets of cake, held together by frosting or another type of filling, such as jam or other preserves. Most cake recipes can be made into layer cakes; butter cakes and sponge cakes are common choices. Frequently, the cake is covered with icing, but sometimes, the sides are left undecorated, so that the filling and the number of layers are visible.
In the mid-19th century, modern cakes were first described in English. Maria Parloa's Appledore Cook Book, published in Boston in 1872, contained one of the first layer cake recipes. Another early recipe for layer cake was published in Cassell's New Universal Cookery Book, published in London in 1894.
An older form of layer cake is common in southern and eastern Europe. In Ukraine and Russia, people still make these cakes in the old traditional way. The cake batter is baked in a frying pan in thin layers, about a centimeter thick in the finished stack. These layers are then covered with a thin layer of cream and/or jam and stacked 7 or 8 layers high. This stack, which is the same height as the typical Western layer cake, is then frosted so that the structure is not visible. At first glance, these cakes look much like a German konditorei style cake such as the Black Forest cake.
Layer cakes always serve multiple people, so they are larger than cupcakes, petit fours, or other individual pastries. A common layer cake size, which is baked in nine-inch round cake pans, typically serves about 16 people.
Unlike the Vietnamese Bánh da lợn or Swiss rolls, layer cake is assembled from several separate pieces of cake. A sheet cake can become a layer cake if it is cut into pieces and reassembled with frosting or other filling to form layers.
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