Baking a cake is easier than ever today. There are a host of cake mixes you can purchase that feature every type and flavor you can think of. It only takes a couple of eggs, some oil, and some water and you will be on your way to baking a delicious cake.
There are people who still love to bake their cakes from family recipes. These take more ingredients and a little more time. But no matter whether you make a cake from a box or you bake your sister Julianne’s famous chocolate cake, you always want to make sure it comes out nice and even.
If one side of the cake is higher than the other, the cake is going to look like it’s crooked. And if you are going to frost the cake and write something across the top it is going to just look messy.
So how do you bake your cake so that it is even across? There are several little tricks of the trade I am going to share with you so keep them in mind next time you bake a cake.
What can you do to ensure that your cake bakes evenly?
There are three ways you can use cake strips to make sure that your cake will bake flat and evenly.
Seasoned bakers used to take a clean towel and cut it into strips that are about 2-inches wide. Take two strips, soak them in ice-cold water. Wring the strips out but keep them damp. Wrap them around the cake pan and you can use safety pins to keep them in place. Bake as usual.
You can also create your own test strip using paper towel strips. After you wet the strips wrap them in aluminum foil then wrap the foil-covered strips around your cake pans. Bake as usual.
If you would rather buy your cake strips already made, they sell them in many craft stores that carry cake decorating supplies.
What to do if your cake rises in the middle?
If you are making a “bread” type of cake, such as banana bread or pumpkin bread, these are usually baked in a loaf pan and they do rise in the middle. These do not need to be flat or even and the domed look makes them resemble a loaf of bread giving them a country charm.
What do you do if your regular cake round cake rises into a dome?
When your cake comes out of the oven, if it has even a little dome on it, while it is still hot, take a clean dish towel and place it over the top of the cake. Push down gently, you don’t want to crack the cake but merely let some of the steam releases and keep the top intact.
Removing the domed area yourself.
If your cakes have come out of the oven and they both have domes this is an easy fix. Take a ruler and measure an even height around the cake and make a cut at intervals with a small knife. Then take a large serrated knife and cut all the way around.
Lift off the dome and put the cake on a plate cut side up. Put the frosting on this layer, then after cutting the second cake the same way, place it on top of this cake with the cut side down and the smooth bottom on top. This will give you an even top layer.
What can you do to make sure the layers are even?
You may have watched a seasoned baker take their cake pans and let them drop onto the counter a few times when they are filled with the cake batter. This is done to prevent any air bubbles from forming which could make the cake bake unevenly.
How can you cut cakes into several flat layers?
If you are making a torte, where you need to cut your cake into several flat layers, you may want to invest in a cake leveler. They are less than $5 so it is not expensive but it could make things a lot easier for you and save you money in the long run.
They are adjustable and can be used on cakes that are up to 10-inches wide. They can level off the top of the cake or separate it so you can ice each layer and make a beautiful tall cake for a special occasion.
Weighing your cakes.
Another simple trick professional bakers do is to weigh each cake pan with the cake batter already inside to see how close they are to weighing the same.
Can you re-bake a cake if it has a dip in it?
If you have tested your cake with a toothpick to see if it is cooked all the way and after it cools down it has taken a dive in the middle, can you put it back into the oven to try to pick it up?
Unfortunately, no. Once the cake is out of the oven, the products that are used to bake it cannot re-activate and build it back up.
Keeping your cake even when you frost it.
Once you have your cake level on top and you have your favorite buttercream frosting on the layers of your cake, put some frosting on the top of your cake and use a flat spreader to make your top-level nice and smooth.
Then add frosting to the sides and don’t worry about how it looks, just make sure you cover the entire cake with no gaps. Once you are finished, take a large spatula or you can use the flat side of a butter knife to run around the sides to flatten the frosting and make it smooth. Now you have a neat and even cake ready to decorate.
You can put colored frosting in a zip lock bag and cut off the very end creating your own decorating bag. Write out your message on wax paper and put it in the refrigerator so it can get firmed up. When it hardens up you can lift it off the wax paper and place it on the top layer.
An easy way to make a dramatic decoration for your cake is to half dip strawberries in melted chocolate. Put them on a plate that has wax paper on the bottom.
Put the strawberries in the refrigerator and when the chocolate hardens you can remove them from the wax paper and place them around the rim at the top of the cake. This is one of the easiest ways to make a great impression with your perfectly level cake!
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.