Red Hot Holiday Trends: How to Make the 18-Layer Cake

Betty Crocker Kitchens food editor Kristen Olson takes us behind her team’s Red Hot Holiday Trends and shares the step-by-step how-to for one of her favorites (18-layer cake, anyone?).

Betty Crocker Cook - Kristen Olsen
Food Editor, Betty Crocker Kitchens

While many people are just now getting into the thick of the holidays, our Betty Crocker Kitchens team has been talking tinsel since midsummer. That’s when we start scoping out holiday-focused food and drink trends and start creating and testing recipes—yes, lucky us, that includes plenty of taste-testing! These months of careful planning come to life in our annual Red Hot Holiday Trends, which we share with the world in late fall.

We found inspiration for this year’s trends, our third-annual installment, everywhere from grocery store aisles and the hottest restaurant menus to high fashion, whose designers had us falling for playful mixes of patterns and colors. And while we’re not ones to play favorites, one trend—borrowed from the runway—really steals the show: Layers.

Our test-kitchen team reimagined the classic layer cake with a gorgeous, easier-than-it-looks 18 Layer Red Velvet Cake, complete with marshmallow buttercream frosting. So if you’re looking for a stunning dessert to impress holiday guests, follow these step-by-step tips and you’ll be the star of the dinner-party show. Just make sure to save me a slice!
cake batter and pans
Start heating the oven and prep the pans. Spray 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottom of each pan with cooking parchment paper—also coated with cooking spray; this makes it easy to get the cake out of the pans. 

Make both the white cake and red velvet cake batters. Mix the white cake first so there’s no need to clean the beaters before mixing the red velvet batter. (Do it the other way around and your white cake batter will be pink. Oops!)

first layer
Now it’s time to begin layering and baking the cake. Start by spreading 1/2 cup red velvet batter in the bottom of each pan. Place all three pans on the center oven rack. doneness
Bake until cake is set when lightly touched in the center. This should take about 8 minutes, but ovens vary so be sure to adjust if your oven runs hot or cold. second layer
For the next cake layer, spread 1/2 cup white batter evenly over each baked red velvet layer. Bake until cake is set when lightly touched in center, about 8 to 10 minutes. last layer
Repeat layering and baking alternating flavors of cake with remaining batter. You’ll end up with 3 round cakes made up of 6 layers each for a total of 18 layers. The remaining layers need to bake a bit longer—about 9 to 12 minutes per layer—because the baked cake layers insulate the pan. We found that it’s better to slightly over-bake than to under-bake. cool cakes_Edited
Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, then remove parchment paper from bottoms of cakes. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Don’t worry if the cakes have some small cracks or bubbles. That’s normal with this layered baking method. assemble
Next, whip up a batch of fluffy marshmallow buttercream frosting, and you’re ready to put the cake together. To assemble, stack all three cake layers, spreading 1/2 cup frosting between each layer. Add a dab of frosting on the cake plate so that the cake doesn’t slide while frosting. crumb coat_ Edited (2)
Spread a thin layer of frosting over the sides and top to seal in crumbs. Refrigerate the cake for 30 to 45 minutes to set the frosting. This “crumb coat” of frosting helps to get a clean frosting without crumbs, and it’s an important step since this cake has red crumbs and white frosting. finish frosting_Edited
Spread the remaining frosting on the sides and top. When it comes to decorating, it’s baker’s choice, though we love adding swirls or striping. When you’re ready to serve the cake, have a paper or kitchen towel handy to wipe the knife off between slices. Cake Kitchen Beauty
Updated regularly, our Inside the Kitchens blog offers an up-close, behind-the-scenes look inside the legendary Betty Crocker Kitchens and insights from our kitchen experts, who are continually creating fresh new food ideas for home cooks around the world. Learn even more about Ann and Kristen, and the rest of our kitchens team, here.

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