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AKA how to never mess up a cake again.
Her cake Instagram has amassed close to 100K followers, and she just came out with a book that's (you guessed it) all about cake—so it's safe to say she's an expert. We wanted to know exactly how she makes her cakes look so delicious, so we asked her to share some of her best secrets.
"Left your cake in the oven too long and now it’s dry? Make a vanilla simple syrup to soak into the cake," says Sung. "Just boil one cup of water with one cup of sugar, then chill it in the freezer until cooled and thickened. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract, then use a pastry brush or squirt bottle to soak the syrup into the layers." It'll help keep the cake moist and won't make it overly sweet or change the flavor.
More: Get a recipe for simple syrup and learn how to use it.
The trick for getting a perfectly clean, lump-free frosting layer is to use a crumb coat (aka a layer of frosting underneath the final top layer). "Frost the entire cake with an offset spatula, then chill it in the freezer or fridge until the buttercream is hardened and the crumbs are locked in," says Sung. "Then, do a final coat and you'll have a perfectly crumb-free finish."
More: Learn how to expertly frost a cake.
"Make sure your cake is completely cool to the touch before frosting it," says Sung. "Even a warm interior can result in melty buttercream, which is a recipe for disaster!" So be patient, let it cool, and your buttercream should be totally fine.
Sung's tip for making even cake layers? Trimming the tops so they're flat. "For a more professional look," explains Sung, "level your cake layers." Just grab a serrated knife and trim the domed tops off. It may seem like a waste of cake, but you can use the scraps for cake pops or patching up any mistakes.
More: Learn how to perfectly split and level a cake layer.
Sometimes filling piping bags with frosting is almost as challenging as actually using piping bags. To solve that, Sung suggests nestling it into a cup to keep it upright as you fill it. "Use a large deli container, yogurt container, or glass to help fill your piping bag," says Sung. "Just place the piping bag into the container and fold the edges over, allowing both your hands to be free to fill the bag with buttercream."
More: Learn how to fill a piping bag.
"When you want that perfect slice for Insta or your blog, chill your buttercream cake in the freezer for a few minutes before slicing it with a sharp knife," shares Sung. This way the frosting will firm up and won't smear everywhere. To serve, just bring it back to room temperature. (Otherwise the frosting might be too hard.)
Greasing a cake pan is always a good idea, but greasing and lining it with parchment paper is even better. This is Sung's way "to avoid stuck cakes" and add an extra layer of insurance.
More: See how to cut parchment rounds for cake pans.
Not everyone is a pro cake decorator, and even professionals frost some less-than-pretty cakes every now and then. Sung's solution? "Just cover it in rainbow sprinkles, fresh berries, or buttercream stars—or a combo of them all."
"All ovens are different," explains Sung, "and it could be the tipping point between over baked and just right." To overcome this, just make sure you check your cakes a few minutes before they're supposed to be done. It's a small step that can prevent your cakes from coming out dry and underwhelming.
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