LEVELING A CAKE !
I do not have a great hand, so I bought the Wilton Small leveler (because I just started and really didn't know any better)
GRRRR - It didn't work ... So I mostly level cakes by hand and this so does not work... I have a fabulous knife, however I can not cut straight to save my life.
Today my cake look great until I cut it to put my filling in, in which I also put an uneven amount on (one layer had more than the other) ( I know how to fix this problem next time.
However, I don't know what to do about the leveling situation. I do not have the money to buy a Agbay right now... However, I can save, but do I not bake until then ... I'll go insane. But I can not allow my cakes to look so uneven. I am just learning this craft and leveling and smooth icing are my to worst things.
I think if I can get the leveling thing under control that I will be better with my icing.
But til then... I will just be frustrated. LOL
Thanks for listening to my rant!
The little wilton leveler works great. I've owned a couple of them (they break after a while) and they all worked for me.
I got rid of my small Wilton leveler. I just couldn't get it to work for me. I now use the large Wilton leveler. It's serrated and does what I want it to do.
Get a ruler measure the height you want cut... put toothpicks around the cake at that height... then cut away!hope that makes sense
I've read that some people push toothpicks slightly in all around the cake at the same height as a guide for their knife.
Oh wait, that's for torting, you asked about leveling. If your cake rises above the pan, level the top while it's still in the pan. Then always flip the cake over so the bottom is now the top.
I had the large Wilton leveler & I liked it at first, but I think it got loose over time - and also it's a lot slower than cutting myself... my way of leveling with your knife: insert a long knife into the center (keep it level), and then move the cake, not the knife, with a rotating cake decorating thing (words are escaping me! the lazy-susan type thing)... if you keep the knife still, the cake will be fine. If it's a little uneven, no worries, level it out by adding a bit more frosting on the low side. Also, I'm not sure if you put your cut side down? The bottom of the cake is baked so perfectly in the pan, so I cut my tops off to level & put the cut side down & then the "top" looks perfect (even if it leans a little to one side). Don't quit! It's frustrating at first, I know, but you'll get it. =)
Here's an idea I got from a gal at the cake decorating store. Using a serated knife like you are drawing. Make a cutting line all the way around the cake, about 1/2 inch into the cake. Eyeballing the best you can. Then with a piece of dental floss (long enough to go around the whole cake and cross the threads at the end. ( Make sure the end threads are long enough to hold onto). *Remember the old trick of slicing cinnamon rolls you learned in your home econmics class in high school? Pull the crossed threads slowly and as evenly as possible. Keep your hands level. Works pretty well for me. I don't have an agbay either! Were those instructions as clear as mud? (As my mother used to say).
I level my cakes while they are still inside the pans. My pans are 2" high, I run my knife across the top of the pan (which will keep my knife straight) and cut whatever cake is about the rim of the pan. Maybe this will help
O.K. I guess I'd better call it a night. I gave you all this instruction on torting a cake. After rereading your post you were really looking for ideas on leveling the top.
So...I'd have to agree with tdybear1978 on leveling the top of a cake. That method works best for me!
Off to bed I go!
JK, just a couple more posts!
Thank you to everyone with the great ideas!
I'm glad I got the torting instructions as well, because truethfully that is what I ment ... (LOL I must need to go to bed too ... But I must work a few more hours - till 8:00 Am)
My cakes are normally pretty level. I flip the cake over and use the bottom side.
But the torting I get all hay wire. GRRR... I have however tried, to cut around the outside of the cake in a very shallow cut to get the right highth.
I guess I need to get a turn table to try before I give up on torting. I don't have one of those yet.
Home Depot. They sell thin strips of aluminum. They come in various hgts. You get a strip kind of bend it in a U slide your cake in, and let the alum be your guide.
I've got the large Wilton leveler, and it works okay for me. It does loosen or something over time, so it doesn't cut as true as it did at first. I'm thinking about replacing it, while I'm saving up for an Agbay. but for me, it works a LOT better than the little wilton leveler.
I also cut the top off level with the pan, if the recipe rises that high. If it doesn't, oh well... then it's the leveler.
Good luck figuring it out. I think that we all have a different way of doing things that works for us. I can't level a cake with just a knife, to save my life! LOL
I have a small leveler and don't like it as much as the turntable method.
Don't know if you do this- but after cutting the cake and before splitting the cake, mark the edges top and bottom so when you put them bake together after torting it will not matter if you cut them uneven- because you will be lining up the layers exactly like they were cut. Line up the marks you made.
Try filling your pans about 3/4 full so that they bake a little over the top edge of your pan. Then simply use the top of your pans as your guide -- laying knife flat against the edges of the pan. If your knife is long enough, the top and bottom edge will guide it nicely and you will have a level cake.
If your cakes dont' rise higher than the pan (so you can use the pan edge as a guide, which is the best way, as far as I'm concerned), here's a trick I read about on CC .... I tried it and it works GREAT!!
Put 2 or 3 cardboard rounds in the cake pan, then put your baked cake back in the pan. The cardboards will elevate the cake above the edge of the pan and you can level the cake using the edge of the pan as a guide. I tried this recently and it is really great!!! Use as many or as few boards as you need to raise the cake just enough to trim it down.
indydebi... thanks for sharing that tip! I never thought about doing that.
That is a cool idea.
I hate my large wilton leveler, the blade always goes crooked, and I need a third hand to hold the cake while I level. Grrrr....
I normally add enough batter so that the cake rises above the pan, then just slice that off, using the pan as my guide!
I have both large and small leveler I have a very hard time with the large one (runt a cake once with the lg) I do like the small one but indydebi I want to try your method
Mike1394 & Indydebi, those are two of the best tips I've heard....ever.
I usually place my knife where I want to split the cake. Holding the knife firmly while bracing my arm against my body so that the knife doesn't move then rotate the turntable. I'll move the knife slowly but firmly inward still rotating the turntable until the layer is split....looks good to me. But I really like the freedom of stress that the two tips mentioned above seem to offer.
Mike1394, whereabouts in Home Depot would I find the aluminum strips?
I can't cut my cake straight either when I torte them. What I do is make a small vertical cut in the side of the cake. About 1/4" wide. That way after I torte and fill i can use the cut as a guide to line up the edges again and the cake is level. Does that make sense?
For torting, I have a big beef-carving knife (niece works at a national chain cafeteria and when these knives are too dull to cut beef, she gives them to me). The blade is about 14-15" long.
This weekend, I torted a 12x18 for the first time. I found a small box (box of plastic gloves, actually) that was half the height of the cake. I had my daughter stand on one side of the cake and slowly move the box of gloves down the counter as I torted the cake. As long as the knife laid on top of the box of gloves, I only had to pay attn to my side of the knife.
A perfect tort!!
So if you have a box, thin piece of board or anything you can stack on the other side of the cake, you can use it as a guide when torting.
I use the large Wilton leveler. I found that if I go too fast and not be careful of keeping the feet flat it will go crooked on me. I also turn the cake as I go. Its more like working in a spiral instead of trying to go straight through. Works great for leveling and torting for me now that I have a kind of rythem going.
I will def. be trying some of these ideas. Has anyone seen the eppisode of Good Eats where he uses the two dowl rods and line and a piece of alluminum? I just saw it the other day and of course now I can't remember what he used.. But it worked perfectly.
[Put 2 or 3 cardboard rounds in the cake pan, then put your baked cake back in the pan. The cardboards will elevate the cake above the edge of the pan and you can level the cake using the edge of the pan as a guide. I tried this recently and it is really great!!! Use as many or as few boards as you need to raise the cake just enough to trim it down.[/quote]
This sounds like a great idea. I am going to try it.
Earlier this year I bought a knife that looks more like a long sword than anything. Believe me, it is also sharp.
To level, I bought a leveler that is about 6" long from Lowes. After I cut the cakes, I lay the leveler on the top of the cake layer and watch the bubble. Trim if needed. I then turn the cake and lay it back on top, and watch the bubble. It lets me know where I need to trim more off. By the time the bubble remains in the middle, no matter which side is facing me, I have a perfectly level cake. This leveler remains clean and only in my cooking supplies. It is never allowed in the garage, etc.
I also use the large level from wilton, and I love it. You do have to cut slowly, but it does a perfect job for me everytime. I also have the small level and that one I hate, does'nt work for me at all.
On the home page of this site there is a "how to" on smoothing icing it's called the melvira method. I was crazy desperate to find a way to make my icing smooth until I found this article. It saved my life! Thanks Melvira!
I use the small Wilton leveller and it works everytime for me. Sometimes you have to start it by making a small cut into the cake with a knife so that the leveller can do its work. Of course it's only good for smaller cakes.
Cocobean's tips for torting are excellent! I love them and plan to make them a part of my future. Thanks so much. Really cool!