How To Bake A Level Cake

filed under: Cakes on December 2, 2010

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.

Use cold Cake Strips. That is simply strips of towel wrapped snuggly around the edges. Be sure to soak them in cold water first! Just wring out the excess water and wrap around your pan. You can secure with a pin or tie the towel in place.


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

Photo courtesy of Wilton

Mine are old. Tattered. Used. Loved.


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.

You can also use homemade GOOP, which is nothing short of AWESOME.


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

It can also be helpful to measure out your batter. I find that the easiest way to do this is to know how many cups of batter your recipes makes. For instance, my Perfect White Cake makes 4 cups of batter, so I know to add 2 cups to each pan.


Now add your batter. I typically set my timer for five minutes less than the recipe suggests… this way I can monitor the 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.”


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

And is totally level.


I also own one of these handy dandy inventions.

Not every recipe is perfectly calibrated, 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.

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!


I recently learned 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.

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  • Heather says:

    Thanks a ton for this post! I baked two 9-inch cakes and a 6-inch, wrapping the two 9-inchers with a towel and forgetting to do the same for the 6-incher. The 9s came out perfectly even and the 6 had a dome. I used lunanoir’s trick on the domed cake and presto! Three wonderfully level cakes (and all already pulling a way from the sides thanks to a liberal amount of cooking spray). This will be my go-to method from now on!

  • Tina says:

    I just taught my husband the trick about pressing down on a cake right after it comes out of the oven to make it a little more level. (For the rare occasion that he’s “babysitting” a cake towards the end of the baking cycle.) This works like a CHARM to avoid wasting cake that you have to slice off in the leveling process. Just be careful of the heat!

  • Patti says:

    Just took a cake out of the oven where I used mt tattered towel strips. Was searching the internet to see if ant
    Y one makes the strips other than Wilton and found you…
    I love my strips ! I’ve heard that Velcro comes in a high temperature version…
    I’m going to try and make some sewn ones.

  • marli says:

    OH. MY. GOD.
    THIS is amazing. I just cut up one of my old towels and it worked perfectly well. The cake is level as level can be!! I’ve never heard of this before! Thanks for the great tips :))

  • Alice says:

    Thank you so much for this tip! I was seriously considering getting those Wilton strips (but they ain’t cheap) – will try using the towels … Lord knows, we have enough old ones lying around.

    This works for rectangle/square pans as well, right? (please please please say yes!)

    • Terri says:

      Try buying them @ King Arthur Flour site. I did and love them….yes they work on sq. pans

  • Kj says:

    How do you wrap the towel around the pan so that it does not fall down?

    • Jennifer says:

      Use a T-Pin Or a safety pin.

  • Lori Scott says:

    Hi! I saw the frosting squeezer on your Facebook post, what is it called and where did you get it?
    Please Email me!

    • Amanda says:

      Hi Lori! I actually do not recommend those frosting machines. They end up being very awkward and clunky and waste a great deal of frosting. I would look into getting a few tips you like (bakery crafts has an amazing selection) and then some disposable pastry bags. You will find you have MUCH more control and ability to create! 🙂

    • Terri says:

      I bought mine on Amazon…its “Zjskin Pastry Icing Bag” costs $6.00 with free shipping. I love it !

  • Becky says:

    so, when you wrap your cake in wet towels do you bake them with towels on?? they won’t burn?

    • Amanda says:


  • Jean says:

    Thanks for the baking tip on level cakes….never too old to learn!!

  • Lori R says:

    When you mention the “new baking sprays” are they the ones with flour in them, or just the oil sprays?


    I want to make a 10×3 inch pan, how do I use the strips and will I need more than one?

  • Kimberly Watson Gordon says:

    Do I need to bake cake longer or same amount of time…

  • Charmaine says:

    This was very informative thanj you. Please forward your perfect white cake recipe ti me

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you Amanda for this great information. I have found myself loving bakin more absolutely more but that dome after the cake come out the oven is not fun. It’s not always a waste went I have cake & cake pop orders, once I cut off the dome, I can use it for cakepop orders but I have more order for cakes than CakePops so this is very useful information. Thank you

  • eddie says:

    It was great and different. I loved this tip too much. Congratulations!!!

  • Dienna Schiro says:

    Will Amanda, I like the idea of your towel strips that’s a trick I must far as the cake you know it’s must do.

  • Alicia says:

    WHat should the purpose of wrapping the pans with towels?

  • Tina Gouard says:

    I love your baking tips! Thank you!❤️

  • Victoria says:

    I have used the cake strips for 15 yrs and they never fail to keep the cake level. They work great on a 9 x 13 pan, I use 2 and clip them together with the metal X collar stays off a mans shirt.
    I haven’t tried the recipe yet but I’m going to! Thanks for your recipes and tips.

  • Hazel says:

    This tip is fascinating ! but what is the science behind it? Just curious.