I’ve always disliked leveling cakes. I have only done it once and looked for other alternatives.
If your cake comes out diagonal, you may need to level it. Let’s face it, nearly every cake is a domed one.
The shape of a domed cake is similar to this
Why Do Cakes Dome Out?
The pans heat up rapidly when cakes are placed in the oven. The sides and bottom will cook quicker and set, causing the middle to rise because there is nowhere else to go.
Before you stack and frost the cake, it’s best to level it out.
You can use a sizeable frikken knife to level the cake (which I purchased specifically for this task and only used ONCE), or you can try and cut off the dome with a regular knife.
You can also buy a Cake Leveler, which is slightly better. (I use it to cut my cakes in half horizontally – I torte them).
You’ll end up with cake crumbs everywhere if you choose either option. It also means wasted cake. You can always eat scraps. But STILL.
It is much easier to avoid leveling the cake by making it flat and stackable. I have two tricks that I use to get flat cakes. I have always had success with them!
You want to ensure that all your layers are at the same height before you even start leveling cakes. You can either eyeball it in your pans or be anal like me and weigh the pans to ensure an equal distribution of batter.
What is the function of cake strips?
Cake strips are used to insulate and cool the sides of the pan. This allows your cake to bake more evenly. The outside of the cake will cook faster and become more set without the strips. This can cause the center of the cake dome.
I soak the strips in a large bowl as I prepare my cake batter. I gently squeeze the excess water out before wrapping them around the pans. You want to ensure they are not sopping moist, or the cake will become soggy.
This is a side-by-side shot of two cakes, one with a cake strip and the other without.
The one on the right is more evenly cooked. These cake strips are great for all my cakes.
You should know that the cake will bake slower if you use these strips. This means you need to increase your baking time. All of my recipes assume the use of baking strips.
Because every oven is unique, baking times will vary. It is essential only to use these as a guide and to be familiar with your range.
Use these strips if you do only one thing!
I still have the old Wilton brand strips I bought at Michael’s over ten years ago. They are fine, but pining them on can be difficult.
These Regency ones that have Velcro are a better option. If you’re looking for some, then I recommend those!