I Am Baker

How To Bake A Level Cake

This is just a super quick and easy tutorial on how to have your cakes coming out of the oven level.

You can also level your cakes after they have been baked, a method that almost all bakers use, but this helps you get an even cake layer prior to baking.

The first thing you should so is start with a good recipe! If your recipe has the proper ration of baking powder and/or baking soda, you should have evenly distributed cake coming out of the oven.

Every time I make my favorite chocolate cake, it comes out perfectly. Its like Ina Garten knows how to cook or something.

Now, on to the baking!

Start with a clean pan. This is a six inch pan I got from Walmart.

I have added strips of towel around the edges. Be sure to soak them first!! Just wring out the excess water and wrap around your pan.

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Those towel strips are just my cheap version of these Cake Strips from Wilton.

Photo courtesy of Wilton

Mine are old. Tattered. Used.

Loved.

(but only if its not weird to love tattered towel strips. If it is weird then I so do not love them.)

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Now, get a solid layer of cooking spray in your pan. You can also use the butter and flour method, but that is slightly time consuming and the new baking sprays work just as well.

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I try to make sure the sides are fully covered. This helps the cake break away from the sides more easily.

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Now add your batter. I typically set my timer for five minutes less then the recipe suggests… this way I canmonitorthe cake closely in the final baking stages. Have a toothpick or small sharp knife on hand to test cake.

If there are cracks insert into the cracks, otherwise just insert into middle of cake. If it comes out clean or with one or two crumbs, you are good to go!

*I once heard a famous baker say, "If you toothpick comes out clean your cake is over cooked and will be dry."Just thought I'd share.

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Here is the cake out of the oven. Slightly brown on top. Has pulled away from the sides.

And is totally level.

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Now, I am a fairly new baker and am always learning and I certainly own one of these handy dandy inventions.

And use it often! Not every recipe isperfectlycalibrated, and not every baker oven is perfect either.

You can also use a long, sharp serrated knife to cut off any dome or excess on your cake. When I do that I almost always end up with a lopsided cake.

Just sayin.

Those are just a few tips that have helped me, and I hope they can help you too.

And with any luck, you will get to see the final product of that rainbow speckled cake very soon!

UPDATED:

A very smart reader (lunanoir)just sent this fabulous tip!

I recently learned through a bon appetit recipe for a chocolate raspberry cake that if your cake comes out domed, while it's still hot from the oven (and in the pan), press it down your hand after covering it with a clean dishcloth or a paper towel.

Worked like a charm.

Thanks!!

Comments

  1. says

    Ok…I can get level cakes…I use tattered old towel strips too, btw. I have those Wilton cake strips but I hate them (with a passion) because I can never.get.them.to.stay. Ever. And for the record, I battle to keep my towel strips tight and from slipping off the bottom as well. I should probably jusy buy safety pins.
    Here’s the problem I always have when I bake a cake. It comes out of the cake pan nice and clean (usually), but later, when I go to frost it, chunks come off. I suppose I could freeze my cakes…but then again, there’s like, a gazillion and fifteen thousand turkeys (and their respective cooked parts) in there and there will soon be a gazillion and fifteen thousand batches of cookie dough.
    In other words…I don’t generally have space for a cake. Especially the taller cakes like the Jesus birthday rainbow cake we’ve been talking about (btw, I’ve got the design down on paper…am going to attempt it for the actual birthday cake, not ahead of time…will let you know how it goes…but I’m going with cake ball filling…lol).
    So…I guess my question is…what do you do to keep your cakes from falling apart. Cause I almost always have chunks of cake that I’ve had to plaster into place. And if it’s a chunk on the side…then I have a mess…lol. Most of the raw cakes I’ve seen good bakers (including yours) put out, prior to frosting, it seems as though there’s a slight crust on the top and sides that prevents chunks from pulling off. What am I missing?
    Is because I’m using blasted box cakes, usually?

    • kassandra darrin says

      Look up how to make a crumble layer on your cake. i have used this method for frosting and it has eliminated the frustrating chunks coming off. make sure to have a glass of hot water and a rag to wipe off frosting every few strokes while frosting. good luck!

    • Kate says

      I know you posted 2 years ago but I read it just now. I just started a cake decorating class and the instructor just happened to mention your common problem (which I’ve encountered, too).

      The problem is the consistency of your icing. Your icing consistency is too stiff and that’s why it takes chunks/crumbs off your cake. When icing the cake, you need icing with a thin consistency. Add 1 tsp of water at a time (mix it up well). Stick a butter knife straight into your icing (so it’s standing up). Jiggle your icing container a little and, when the consistency is right, the knife should fall over. Try icing your cake once you have the consistency thin like this. Good luck!

    • Sandra Walt says

      Hi there.. I try to do what they call a crumb coat before I try to ice… I make a thinner version, and sometimes even warm it a bit and then put it on so that the icing coat doesn’t tug or stick.
      Good luck!! :-)

  2. says

    I heard this a long time ago, but have always been to afraid to try it. :) And I’m to cheap to buy the Wilton things. LOL. Now that I know YOU have success I’ll have to give it a whirl. Thanks for sharing! (p.s. comment area looks good this time! :) )

  3. says

    Great question Crystal!!
    I always, and I mean ALWAYS,refrigeratemy cake prior to adding the crumb coat. I have even frozen them, but just make sure they thaw a bit before adding that crumb coat. If you dont have room, it must be time to by an addition fridge. ;) (kidding) With the tall layer cakes that can be tricky!! Andyou make suchgorgeoustall cakes… maybe a tall cooler or something for a quick fix??

  4. says

    Great tip … I always wondered how those cake stips were supposed to work. Might have to make my own special “amamda version” since those look much more my style. I think I need to go bake a cake.

  5. says

    Igottaask…what are the towel strips for?
    It works to insulate the sides of a metal cake pan, slowing down baking at the sides of the cake, therefor creating an evenly baked cake. :)
    Hope you will try sometime and report back your results!

  6. says

    Where do you get one of those cake-level thingies? Because man, that would make my life so much easier! I’ve basically given up on making layer cakes because I find them so impossible to cut nicely.
    I love your cakes and cookies! They are gorgeous!

  7. Lorie says

    My friend who makes wedding cakes taught me to fill the batter 3/4 full and it should bake over the pan just slightly, then you use the pan as a guide to cut with a serrated knife.

  8. says

    Thank you so much. I get so frustrated with my cakes coming out with a dome top, and although I have and use the gadget that you showed for leveling them I still end up getting crooked half of the time. I will definitely use this technique the next time I bake a cake!

  9. says

    Great tips! I’m pretty sure 100% of the time I have very lopsided cakes…now I can’t wait to try my next one.
    I’m making your sugar cookies today. I’ve used your frosting recipe (LOVE) but not the cookie recipe…can’t wait! I got some tips from Londa. :)

  10. says

    I have tried the serrated knife & had somewhat good results, but your method sounds way better. That device is cool too. I have never heard of those pan strips or seen the towels-great ideas! The shorter baking times are a great tip too! On my way to perfect cakes-RIGHT??!! xo

  11. says

    I am in love with this post.
    No kidding.
    I had no idea you could use towel strips instead of those Wilton Bake Even things!! How cool!!
    I also use that cake leveler, and it is a lifesaver. On tv, they always show everyone using a knife and I don’t get how everyone is able to cut it so level. I cannot do that.
    Maybe my equilibrium is off or something.
    Wait–what IS an equilibrium?
    Anyways, thanks so much for the tips!! I’m off to cut up some old towels!! :)

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