Learn how to bake perfectly flat cake layers every time with this simple tutorial!
I hate levelling cakes. I think I’ve done it a total of ONE time and quickly looked for alternatives. Levelling a cake is something you should do if it bakes up domed. Which, let’s be honest here, almost every single cake does. A domed cake looks something like this:
Delicious as it may be, it could be more aesthetically pleasing. Not to mention the uneven distribution of frosting! Those poor middle sections.
When my sister-in-law recently asked me how I managed to get my cakes so flat right out of the oven, I figured others might have the same question, hence this blog post for How to Bake a Flat Cake.
It’s not easy to stack a domed cake, so it should be levelled out prior to doing so. To level a cake, you either get a huge frikken cake knife (which I bought specifically for this job and used ONCE) and go at it hoping you can cut off the dome evenly.
Or you can buy a cake leveler which does the job marginally better. Either option leaves you with a crap ton of cake crumbs all over everything. This also means wasted cake, and boo to that. Ok, I know you can always eat the scraps, but STILL.
A much better alternative is to not have to level the cake at all by having it come out perfectly flat and stackable. I have a couple of tricks I use to ensure I get flat cake layers. They work for me every time!
HOW TO BAKE FLAT CAKE LAYERS
Now, before we even get to level cakes, you want to make sure that your layers are the same height. You can eyeball this in your pans, or you can be anal (like me) and actually weigh the pans to ensure an even distribution of batter.
I fully embrace my craziness. I use this kitchen scale these days, which is different than the one pictured, and I LOVE it.
Now that we have that out of the way… onto Flat Cakes!
FIRST UP: Evenbake Cake Strips
This is my go-to method. All you have to do is dampen them and wrap them around the bottom of your cake pans.
How do cake strips work?
The cake strips insulate the outside of the pan and the moisture in the strips keeps the sides of the pan cooler so your cake bakes up more evenly. Without the strips, the outsides of the cakes cook and set faster causing the middle to dome.
I soak my strips in a bowl while I’m prepping my cake batter and then gently squeeze out the excess water before I wrap them around the pans. It’s important that they’re not sopping wet or they could cause the cake to become soggy.
Here’s a side-by-side shot of the cakes right out of the oven, only one using a cake strip.
You can see how nice and flat the cake on the right is. Not only is the one in the left domed, it’s also quite a bit darker on the top and sides.
The one on the right is cooked more evenly throughout. I use these cake strips on all of my cakes and they help a LOT. If you only do one thing, use these strips!
I have the older model Wilton brand strips that I got at Michael’s years ago. These are ok, but pinning them on is a bit of a pain. I found these Regency ones online that have velcro which seems like a much better option so if you’re in the market for some, I would get those!
You can also create your own by cutting up an old towel into strips and pinning them on.
NEXT: Tea Towel Trick
Note: this method only works on small domes.
If the cakes are still a tiny bit domed after using the bake even strips, there’s another thing you can do as soon as they come out of the oven. Grab a (clean) tea towel and lightly press down on any domes. Be careful, as the pans will be hot and there will be steam coming out as you press down on the cakes. Don’t press too hard or your cake will cave in!
Since I always use the Bake Even strips, my domes are never really that high to begin with, but the tea towel technique helps with that last little bit. I don’t know how well it would work on a cake with a large dome. By the time I was done taking pictures, the domed cake was starting to cool, so pressing down on it didn’t help too much.
That’s it! Two simple ways to get perfectly flat cake layers every time!
To cut my cakes in half horizontally, I find this cake leveler easiest to use.
Recipes you may like:
- Simple Vanilla Buttercream
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- Classic Vanilla Cake
- Classic Chocolate Cake
- Classic White Cake
Quick links to help you bake flat cake layers:
- The secret to getting flat cake layers: Evenbake Strips
- My very favourite kitchen scale: Jennings Kitchen Scale
- If you need to level your cakes or cut them in half: Cake Leveler