If baking a flat cake has eluded you, then this is a MUST read. I’ll show you how to get flat cake layers every single time. Flat cake layers are a must when you go to stack and frost your layer cakes!
I’ve baked homemade cakes now for quite awhile. There is seriously nothing better than presenting a beautifully decorated layer cake to your guests. I feel so gosh darn proud. Presenting my masterpiece to my friend and family. Taking in all those compliments. Loving every minute of it.
But there is also nothing worse than pulling your cake out of the oven to reveal a domed cake.
I mean ok, it’s not the end of the world. But I find it to be super frustrating. Raise your hand friend. You get me right? Beautiful domed banana bread. Game on. Count me in. Beautiful domed vanilla cake. Um, no thanks.
Why does a cake dome in the middle?
Here’s the thing, a domed cake is really quite natural. It’s baking science at work.
Basically the outside of the cake cooks faster than the middle of the cake. So the outside sets and bakes, while the middle takes a little longer allowing it to rise higher than the edges.
So what you end up with is a dome in the middle. And trying to stack a domed cake can be a pretty trick feat. So what’s a baker to do?
Level It Off…
One solution that I have done for many years was just to level off the dome. You can use a cake leveler or you can use a sharp knife. It does the trick.
It’s not the best solution. Here’s 3 reasons why I have stopped doing this:
- You end up with a bunch of cake crumbs. Sure you can snack on them. Save them as a pretty crumb garnish to the cake.
- Your cake ends up being smaller than intended. That part really irks me.
- If you are using a knife, you don’t always get a completely level cake. Especially if it’s your first time levelling a cake, it’s like trimming bangs. You know how that goes. You just keep trimming a little bit off. And before you know it, you have zero bangs left. Tell me I’m not alone in this horribly middle school thing happening to them?
There has to be a better way right than wasting all that cake? There is.
Enter Wilton Cake Strips
I’ve tried many tricks over the years. And there is one solution I come back to time and time again to get perfectly flat cake layers. Wilton Cake Strips.
Regency also makes their own called Even Bake Strips. These work wonderfully as well, but they are a bit more.
What do cake strips do?
These strips are made of cotton and polyester, and fit snugly around the outside of your cake pans and help correct uneven baking.
The cake strips create an insulating barrier, allowing the outside to cook more slowly, so you end up with a flat cake in the end. The strips are soaked in water, so the moisture from the strips keeping the sides of the pan cooler, which allows the cakes to bake up flat.
How do you make a cake flat on top?
Here is how you use these cake strips – step by step:
Step One: Soak your cake strips
This is important! You need to soak the strips for about 5 minutes, so they are wet when going around the pan and then into your oven. I just place them into a bowl and fill it up with water.
If they float, I just place a second bowl on top. While they are soaking…
Step Two: Weigh Out Your Cake Batter
Ok please don’t think I’m crazy. But yes I weigh out my cake batter between my pans to ensure that my cakes will be the same height. Yes they would be flat, regardless, because I’m using the strips, however – I also want the same height. So bust out your trusty kitchen scale and weigh the batter out evenly.
You could eyeball this but I find weighing always ensures I get the best results.
Step Three: Wrap your cake strips around the cake pans. Then Bake!
Remove the strips from the water, but do not wring them out. I just let the excess water drip off and give them one good squeeze. You need them to be damp. And then place them around each cake pan. This can be a bit tricky to get them to go securely around because they are wet.
Check out the results…
Here is two cakes baked at the same time, from the same batter. One pan I used the cake strip and one I did not. You can see the difference in the dome, plus the color of the cake as well. The one with the cake strip was also more moist!
Tips For Using Wilton Cake Strips
- Soak the strips while you are prepping the cakes. You do not want your cake batter sitting around while you are soaking them, which could cause for a flat cake because your batter sat out losing some of its volume.
- Do not wring them out. After soaking, you want them wet. I do let some of the excess water drip off, give them a little bit of a squeeze but otherwise I do not wring them out. You still need them to be quite damp.
- Allow for extra baking time. The cake strips cause the cake to bake slower, so you will need to adjust your baking time. I find the cakes take about an extra 5 minutes of baking time. But keep an eye on them!
Can I use cake strips on a square cake?
You can yes. You can simply connect two strips with a paper clip. There will just be some overlap.
How do you clean cake strips?
You can wash these with just some dish soap and hot water and they will clean up easy peasy.
Are these cake strips reusable?
Yes they are! These should last you for years!
If you are using the DIY cake strip version (below), then you would need to unwrap the foil and re-moisten the paper towels before using them again.
Can I make my own cake strips?
If you don’t want to buy cake strips, you can also make your own. You just need:
- paper towels
- aluminum foil
Here is a tutorial on making your own cake strips
Cake Recipes To Try
- How To Make A Checkerboard Cake
- EASY Pumpkin Spice Cake (with Cinnamon cream cheese frosting!)
- Chocolate Coconut Cake
- The BEST carrot layer cake