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How to level a cake...

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

Are you looking for a way to make a perfect, flat-leveled cake without spending a fortune on expensive equipment? I've got you covered.


Baking a cake successfully is the first major challenge you've conquered. Let's raise a glass to it, shall we? Now is the time to confront the cake's dreadful dome. When a cake bakes, it naturally creates a dome. Some have taller domes than others. It all depends on the cake recipe as well as the temperature of the oven. There is no way to escape it but to tackle it.


The dome's outside cover typically cooks dry and crispy, which is not the desired texture for a nicely adorned cake. Removing the dome will help level the cake while also revealing the more tender, soft, moist, and spongy interior.


It may be tricky to slice the dome while maintaining a straight line and level surface. But don't fret; my simple steps will guide you in producing an absolutely flat and uniform cake as well as slicing equal-sized slices for stacking into a magnificent tall one. All you'll need is a large serrated knife, toothpicks, a ruler, and a cutting board (even better if you have a turntable instead).


Step 1: Prepping the cake before leveling it

If you slice a warm cake, it will not only drop crumbs, but it may also break, leaving jagged cut lines. As a result, cake preparation is critical. When the cake has cooled to room temperature, carefully cover it in cling film, making sure there is no air gap. Do not remove the baking paper from the cake's foundation.


Place the wrapped cake in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2-3 hours or in the freezer for 1/2 hour. Sometimes I leave the cake in the fridge overnight. This allows the cake to cool faster, keeps it moister, and enhances the flavour. This is a professional baker's hidden tip.


Don't omit this step if you want a moist, flavoursome and, evenly cut cake.

Step 2: Measure and insert toothpicks

Remove the chilled cake from the refrigerator, unwrap it, and set it on a cake turntable or cutting board. Leave the baking paper intact. This will prevent the cake from adhering to your hands and ruining its flat, flawless surface.


It is essential to measure and scan all sides of the cake to find the ideal height for a consistent straight wall across the base. The max height for the cake below is 3cms. If I go higher than 3cm, the taller side will have a perfectly straight wall but the shorter side will curve in due to the cake's uneven dome formation.


Once the ideal height has been determined (in this example, 3 cm), stick a toothpick into the cake at that height. Make sure the toothpick is pushed in straight, not at an angle, and that it is at least halfway in the cake. Continue inserting more toothpicks into the cake at the same height along the sides at 2-inch spacing.



Step 3: Cutting the cake top

This step requires a long serrated knife or sharp knife. A blunt knife will not give you neat sharp cut lines.


Lay the knife flat on top of the toothpicks (as shown in the pick). Using toothpicks as a guide, make a small incision on the side of the cake. Always cut using a back and forth sawing motion to avoid squashing the cake side and losing its immaculate flush surface finish.


Make similar incisions around the whole perimeter of the cake by rotating the cake with your other hand, using toothpicks as a guide, and keeping the knife leveled all the time. Continue spinning the cake and cutting deeper and deeper until the entire cake has been sliced through (Do not attempt to cut the slice from one end to the other in one move. This will result in rough edges and lots of crums). Eventually, you'll be able to take off the top dome layer, revealing an evenly cut cake base and toothpicks.


Step 4: Leveled cake ready for icing/ganache/decoration

Clear all the toothpicks and you have a perfectly leveled cake ready to be covered with ganache or frosting.


This cake may be further divided into two 1.5 cm thick layers. Simply use the aforementioned approach to cut several cake layers of the same size with the same precision.


Offcuts

Don't chuck those offcuts away. They are the best bits, especially for snacking (shh....don't tell anyone... I am the guilty one..nibbling on them).


You can make cute cake pop treats with them, stack them in desserts like trifle, or incorporate pieces into homemade vanilla ice cream. Deeeelicious.....



Take advantage of this trick to construct a proffesional-looking cake and say goodbye to irregular cracked cake domes.

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