Does Anyone Not Level Their Cake?

Decorating By luv2bake4u Updated 16 Jan 2010 , 8:17pm by akgirl10

luv2bake4u Posted 9 Jan 2010 , 10:55pm
post #1 of 37

I like the whole cake making process but have to admit I find leveling the cakes a pain. I even have an agby. I usually don't leveL my sheet cakes and they look pretty level. Does anyone just use the baking strips with a flower nail and go from there for the round cakes?. Are there any tricks out there to skip this process? By the way,,I can't get off this site today and the housework is waiting,,,feeling a little bit of an addiction here... icon_wink.gif

36 replies
AngelaM Posted 9 Jan 2010 , 11:19pm
post #2 of 37

A lot of people use the "push down" method. Right when you take the cake out of the oven, take a clean dish cloth and push the cake down while it's still hot and in the pan. The cakes will require little to no leveling.

yeastconfection Posted 9 Jan 2010 , 11:26pm
post #3 of 37

I don't even use the bake even strips any more...took too much time! I'll use flower nails for 12 inch cakes or bigger. Lately I set my oven at 320 degrees (runs hot...electric) and for the most part they come out with just a small belly. I don't cut it off though.....I tort the cake and then use the "belly" piece as my first layer on the cardboard round, belly side up. I then frost with a thick (not thin!) frosting and make the surface flat. I then place the other half of the torted cake on top of the flat frosting...I place this piece upside down so now the nice flat area that was touching the bottom of the pan is now the top surface of the cake. (repeat this process again for additional layers) This is the fastest method I discovered so that I can skip leveling. The only thing I would say is do not do this if you are using a thin or fruit filling.....you should probably level then!

baycheeks1 Posted 9 Jan 2010 , 11:28pm
post #4 of 37

I dont really level my cakes anymore. Just like the bake even strips, I use towels that are wet and wrap them around the cake pan while baking...something I learned here on CC.

But with the wet towels, my cake pretty much cook even. On a sheet cake or a larger circle I will use the flower nail along with the wet towels...

If you practice some, you will learn just like I did...less cake wasted...

trinijulie Posted 9 Jan 2010 , 11:44pm
post #5 of 37

I'm sooo trying the wet towel trick on my next cake icon_smile.gif I throw out so much cake when I level..

verisimilitude Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 12:40am
post #6 of 37

I don't level mine because I generally don't cook large enough cakes that they rise noticibly higher in the middle. Mine tend to rise quite evenly with most recipes I use, but if there's a small dome I generally don't worry too much becuase I turn my cakes over to decorate the side which was in the bottom of the pan anyway.

I wouldn't mind if I had leftover cake scraps from levelling though - cakeballs! icon_biggrin.gif

pattycakesnj Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 12:53am
post #7 of 37

I never heard of the push down method. Doesn't pushing on a hot cake cause it to crack or spilt?

LaBellaFlor Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 1:00am
post #8 of 37

So heres the thing for me, when my cakes come out the oven, they are perfectly flat. They look totally fine, no bumps, no uneveness, nothing. But when I got to level it, even though it looks perfectly flat coming out the oven, I level it and see how really flat it can be. Just my expierence.

Win Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 1:20am
post #9 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by pattycakesnj

I never heard of the push down method. Doesn't pushing on a hot cake cause it to crack or spilt?




Do it immediately and with gentle pressure, and the answer is "no." It's really a very "old school" method of leveling. I've been baking for thirty years and was taught that method when I started.

That being said, sometimes they only look level. (You can always tell in a photo if it ended up slightly off.) One should always use a bubble level to check their cake when assembling. If it not level, use a cake shim at the base of the cake to level it during the crumb coat process. I was also taught to bake cupcakes along with the cake so that you can cut off the top of the cupcake and use it as a shim. The top of the cupcake is firm and great for leveling.

Mug-a-Bug Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 1:23am
post #10 of 37

Once I figured out the flower nail 'trick', I stopped leveling my cakes. BUT, now I'm trying to figure out how to get the right sized teirs for SPS and I'm all screwed up! icon_confused.gif Does anyone know if I can buy a BIG leveler at HobbyLobby or Michaels? (Sorry to be a thread hijacker) icon_cool.gif

pattycakesnj Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 1:26am
post #11 of 37

Thanks Win for the shim idea, will have to try it next time.

CakeMommyTX Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 1:30am
post #12 of 37

I always level my cakes.
I'd rather waste a little cake and make sure everything is straight then waste and entire cake because it was not level and either fell over or leaned enough to where it was noticeable.
Now if's a single layer cake for the house then I might skip it, but not for 4+ teir cake for a customer.

luv2bake4u Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 1:35am
post #13 of 37

Ha,,,SinCitycakes - you and me both. I am all screwed up as well trying to get the 4" cakes but will keep trying. Cake Mommy - I have kind of been going by that as well, I level my tiered cakes to make sure there are no problems. thumbs_up.gif

FACSlady Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 1:51am
post #14 of 37

If you're making a sheet cake, do you use more than one flower nail?

Win Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 1:56am
post #15 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by FACSlady

If you're making a sheet cake, do you use more than one flower nail?




Depending on your dimensions, could be up to three. I use two on anything over 11x15 --slightly offset from the middle on both ends. The best thing I have found for sheet cakes is truly the bake even strips or wet towel strips. Once I started using them, the cake has always baked to the top of the pan for a true 2" cake layer.

edited to add that I still use the dish towel method and shim a corner if it seems off a bit. I can tell on a sheet cake sooner that it is not quite level just by looking at it at eye-level.

FACSlady Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 1:58am
post #16 of 37

I do use cake strips, but I'd like them to be even flatter. Thanks so much for the nail info!

Peridot Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 2:00am
post #17 of 37

I always level and with my Agaby it's not that big of a deal. I would sooner level then have a finished cake that is higher on one side. I use the baking strips, the flower nail and some times I have to use the towel method and press down on them when I take them out of the oven. I just prefer to level and check to make sure.

Renaejrk Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 2:32am
post #18 of 37

I absolutely HATE leveling - I cannot cut a "straight" line to save my life! I hate the bake even strips, I use the flower nails. The nails do great on rounds, but not as well for large sheets. I haven't tried the towels - I may check into that - I hate wasting cake too! I would rather go through more to keep it flat than have to cut some off! It is a pain. I use dental floss to torte my cakes, with toothpicks to line it up to the proper place, so I don't have to worry about that - I just wish I could do that for leveling! lol

Deb_ Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 2:44am
post #19 of 37

You can also level the cake while it's still in the pan.

Just lie a long serrated knife on top of the pan as a guide and use a "sawing" motion to cut off the dome that's above the rim of the pan. Then just turn out the cake like usual.

dsilbern Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 2:50am
post #20 of 37

On the topic of wasted cake from leveling..I was too baked out from the holidays to start learning how to make cake balls. So I made bread pudding with the scraps and holy moley was it goooood.

And... I always level. I'm genetically programmed to fuss so my personality doesn't really give me a choice to level or not. icon_lol.gif

artscallion Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 3:01am
post #21 of 37

I always level. There's no waste because I use the trimmings to make spackle. It's a Toba Garret trick. Mix trimmings with some buttercream and some filling. I use a 2-2-1 part ratio. You get a nice thick paste to use as a base coat that adds real stable smooth surface to your cake. Great under fondant or buttercream . You can also use it as a flavorful, stable filling that will never smoosh or bulge out between your layers.

LaBellaFlor Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 3:09am
post #22 of 37

Hmmm, so you use the spackle as a crumb coat?

artscallion Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 3:17am
post #23 of 37

Yup. And people love it! I don't think they really know what it is and assume it's something decadent like marzipan or some nut filling.

Sassy74 Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 3:19am
post #24 of 37

I do the "push down" method with a folded paper towel--learned about it here on CC! I haven't had to level a cake since. I'm almost ALWAYS able to get the cake very level, and if there's any unevenness, I can compensate with icing. I also use flower nails or, on large cakes, heating cores. I really don't like cutting into my cake layers if I don't have to. All it means for me is crumbs, especially on a chocolate or red velvet cake. I do miss cake balls, though LOL!

indydebi Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 5:04am
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by CakeMommyTX

I always level my cakes.
I'd rather waste a little cake and make sure everything is straight then waste and entire cake because it was not level and either fell over or leaned enough to where it was noticeable.
Now if's a single layer cake for the house then I might skip it, but not for 4+ teir cake for a customer.




Totally, TOTALLY agree.

Carpenters have leftover scraps of wood; housepainters have bits of leftover paint, knitters have leftover bits of yarn; cakers have scraps of cake. It's just part of the process. Saving a half a cup of cake scraps is not putting money in my pocket. It's not taking a serving away from the cake. I am NOT spending one minute worrying about 8 cents worth of cake that went into the trash can.

I level all my cakes. I push them down when they come out of the oven because it helps make the cake more dense looking and eliminates some of the air pockets. But I always trim. I do an initial trim while they are still in the pan and do a final trim during assembly, when the cake is partially frozen and it's super easy to trim it really level.

If you're not comfortable with the wilton leveler or the agbay, and you're not quite up to free hand trimming yet, here's another trick that is foolproof ... and I learned it here on CC.

Remove cake from pan. Place cardboards in the pan .... I use at least 2, sometimes 3. Put cake back in pan with domed side up. Using the sides of the pan as a guide, trim the domed part off.

It will be perfectly flat every single time.

Mike1394 Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 11:00am
post #26 of 37

For sheet cakes I'm going to torte I don't even bother with a 2" pan anymore. I'll bake them in a sheet tray, and use the whole layer, or cut it up. They bake faster, and more even than baking a 2" cake. The time saved is unbelieveable. It takes about twenty minutes to bake in a sheet pan. For the cake it takes over an hour in a 2"pan.

Mike

Win Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 3:23pm
post #27 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike1394

For sheet cakes I'm going to torte I don't even bother with a 2" pan anymore. I'll bake them in a sheet tray, and use the whole layer, or cut it up. They bake faster, and more even than baking a 2" cake. The time saved is unbelieveable. It takes about twenty minutes to bake in a sheet pan. For the cake it takes over an hour in a 2"pan.

Mike




thumbs_up.gif and they make beautiful layers --so perfectly proportioned it makes the baker look like a genius in the torting department!

Sassy74 Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 4:26pm
post #28 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike1394

For sheet cakes I'm going to torte I don't even bother with a 2" pan anymore. I'll bake them in a sheet tray, and use the whole layer, or cut it up. They bake faster, and more even than baking a 2" cake. The time saved is unbelieveable. It takes about twenty minutes to bake in a sheet pan. For the cake it takes over an hour in a 2"pan.

Mike




You mean like a jelly-roll pan? Not sure what a sheet tray is. This sounds promising...thanks for the info!

Kiddiekakes Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 5:02pm
post #29 of 37

I use the push down method all the time..I never really get large domes but small humps.I have never levelled a cake any other way!

Mug-a-Bug Posted 10 Jan 2010 , 6:27pm
post #30 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Renaejrk

I use dental floss to torte my cakes, with toothpicks to line it up to the proper place, so I don't have to worry about that - I just wish I could do that for leveling! lol




Hmmmmm.... this gives me a great idea to make my own leveler!! Or just run the floss over the top of the pan if you want a 2" layer.

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