How to Get Flat Cake Layers
Blog post with all the instructions: https://preppykitchen.com/how-to-get-perfect-flat-cake-layers/
Few things frustrate me more than domed cake layers with burnt edges. I make cakes QUITE often so you can imagine I like things to go smoothly especially since I’m usually filming and sharing the results. When I first started out my cakes had a very “home made” look about them, the corners were rounded and they often sagged at the edge or even drifted off to one side. The taste was good but appearances matter so I would have to trim the top off of my domed layers to get a flat top but then you end up with extra cake and lots of crumbs! Eventually I realized the problem wasn’t with the recipe but the bake itself.
When you bake cake layers the outside heats up and baked more quickly than the center, which is insulated by the rest of the batter surrounding it. So basically the outside of the cake layer bakes first; the inside of the cake layer has more time to rise and by the time the inside is set and baked through the outside is starting to dry out and burn. This is why you see so many cakes with dark edges which are not pillowy soft.
Here's a link to buy the cake strips I use if you want to pick up a set: https://amzn.to/2LJdUDu
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I would tear a bath towel in long strips as long and wide as the pan (2in overlap). Cut away any loose strings. Soak in cold water and wring out excess water. I use large upholstery needle to pin it together (all metal).
I've been baking uneven cakes for nearly 50 years, and I never knew why. I tried your foil method last week while baking a 3-layer lemon/blueberry cake for my mother-in-law's birthday. My family and I were amazed with the results. Perfectly level layers filled the pans from edge to edge with no nasty crunchy edges and no need to trim high spots or spackle icing into gaps. I will never bake again without using cake strips. THANK YOU!!!!
My daughter wondered what this would do for brownies. I suggested that she try a batch & let us know. ;-)
So my mother, who's now passed on, would make her own "cake strips" using and old kitchen or bath towel (washed clean of course). She'd cut the towel down to fit around the cake pan and safety pin them at the ends. She did this since the 1970's. Easier and less complicated than tin foil and paper towels and cheaper than Wilton strips. :)
I got hooked on your videos because of this topic! Last week, I was looking at a recipe on a really well-known baking blog. When I got to the photo of the sliced cake, I could see the tough edges and inwardly groaned that "ooh, shoulda used cake strips..." Thanks for keeping it real - and for making things accessible for us amateurs out here!
Thank you so much for the great tips!! I made my own birthday cake from scratch. I used the foil and paper towel method since I didn't have cake strips, my cake layers have cooked evenly and nice! Thank you again!!
I want to make a double layer 9" cake. I only have one pan though. I plan to cook one layer, set it out to cool, and then make the next one. Do I need to do anything to the aluminum cake strip after the first layer is done, or can I just throw it back into the oven for the 2nd layer?
I love your gold tea pot set in the back ground and crazy about all ya copper utensils, omg that copper kitchen aid has been in my dreams for a long time, copper pots even longer. Where have you bought your treasures from? Much appreciated, Manulea
Tell you wat buddy. You definitely know what you're talking about, but personally I much prefer the dome cake with the rough edges. It has a stronger texture so I'm not to much into fluffy. For instance you would have to pay me to eat quiche. Hey to each his own. Just saying.
John, I baked using cake strips (red velvet cake preppy kitchen recipe), I had the opposite problem, my cakes didn't have a dome but there was a dip in the center. They looked as if they lost air or something, not sure if I'm describing it right.
I made my own cake strips with tea towels and aluminum foil. They work, and you are a ROCK STAR!!! I made a 9" double layered lemon cake tonight. I took the recipe you have for the chocolate buttercream frosting, and modified it to a lemon buttercream to compliment the cake. Divine!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
Tip, instead of the strips you can bake in a water bath. Basically set your cake pans in another large pan filled with water but not going over the edge of the cake pan. Stops cakes in regular cakes and cheesecakes.
Okay, so today I made this exact cake with the tin foil strips. I made two layers in larger pans though and doubled the recipe. Total disaster. Both layers came out flat and cracked and one of them fell apart when I tried to put in on the cake board. They simply did not hold together, so I really recommend making these in smaller pans (not wider than 20 centimetres). The foil strips expanded in the oven and loosened from the pans. However, they are DELICIOUS! Moist all they way through and melt in your mouth.
Wow, thanks so much for this tip! I'm pretty new to real baking and don't really have the money to buy a lot of extra things so the tinfoil/paper towel hack is awesome. I hate domed cakes and I hate the browning on the edges even more so bye to that! :)
Thank you!!!! Oh my gosh, I bought some of those cake strips several years ago and completely forgot about them (obviously I don't bake cakes enough😂)! Mine came with pins to adjust the size and hold them on. I love the updated version! I can't wait to start using them again.
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