Leveling Cakes...am I Alone?

Decorating By lissacarol Updated 1 Apr 2011 , 4:01am by Kristie925

lissacarol Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 5:54pm
post #1 of 30

Okay, I have to know. I bake two layer, 2 inch cakes. My oven is level, I recently began using the bake strips around the pan. When my cakes come out of the oven, I take a paper towel and lay it over the cake and gently press and then flip the cake out onto a cooling rack. I never trim off any cake UNLESS after the pressing it leaves a little "lip" and that is the only thing I trim. When I put the two layers together I make sure I have any low side of one layer matched up with the high side of the other layer (if applicable) and my tiers look level. Just wondered if I am the only one out there that doesn't "level" their cakes by trimming them.

29 replies
snowboarder Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 6:06pm
post #2 of 30

I've always wondered why so many people have to level. I've never had to do it. I bake at 350 in Magic Line pans, no baking strips, cores, flower nails, other contraptions and no cake scraps leftover.

Mfattore Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 6:07pm
post #3 of 30

I don't usually have to either with the bake strips. I do however torte all of my cake layers into 3 separate layers. I think it looks nice.

Chasey Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 6:12pm
post #4 of 30

I wish I could achieve the perfect "level" like you described! I have Wilton 2 inch pans, Bake even strips and use a doctored mix. I've baked on 325 and 350. I have a dome in the center 99% of the time. Even if I were to smoosh it down with a clean towel, I wouldn't achieve a perfect level surface. Help me with some tips, please! icon_biggrin.gif

Are you baking from scratch or box or doctored mix?

What temp?

How full are your pans?

What kind of pans do you use?

Do all of your pan sizes always come out level?

lissacarol Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 6:35pm
post #5 of 30

Well, first hubby is my oven leveler, second I do use Wilton pans, third I do use a box mix (Pillsbury), fourth since using the bake strips I can't really say there is much to smush down, I just do it, fifth I bake at 325 BUT if I see that the cakes are baking too fast I cut back to 300 and by too fast I mean a dome is popping up and cracking. For some reasons the same oven doesn't always bake the same (outside or inside temps, maybe?). I fill my pans a little over 1/2 full I would guess (I just eyeball it). Before putting my cake in the oven, I take the pan and pop it on the counter which bursts any air bubbles they may be on the top of the batter which may or may not have anything to do with the levelness..lol! One other thing I do that I don't think has anything to do with the level part but when I flip the cakes over I immediately cover them with plastic wrap while on the cooling rack (tip I learned from a former boss). It seals in the moisture. Anyhow when they are cool and I take them off the rack I peel off the paper towel which sometimes takes off the browned top and sometimes not (don't know why). I am then ready to put on my board, fill, put together, and crumb coat. HTH

I am glad to know that I am not alone when it comes to levelling...thanks!!

snowboarder Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 7:13pm
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chasey



Are you baking from scratch or box or doctored mix?

**scratch

What temp?

**350

How full are your pans?

**2/3

What kind of pans do you use?

**Magic Line only

Do all of your pan sizes always come out level?

**yes


barb419 Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 7:28pm
post #7 of 30

I soo can not level with a knife for nothin! I usually dont have too much dome, when they come out of the oven I right away take a clean towel and press down on the cake. Usually my 6" cakes dome the most and this method works for those as well. So I usually dont have to trim off any cake, thank goodness, because if I had to I would end up with a 1/2" cake, lol

adventuregal Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 10:25pm
post #8 of 30

all I usually use it a core and then I'll have a little mound to level off which I do with a serrated knife...that method just takes a bit of practice to keep the knife straight.

kakeladi Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 10:41pm
post #9 of 30

What has been said is right on.....one should not need to level cakes if 1) you use the right amount of batter for each size pan; 2) bake at lower temps 3) use cooling strips (I've used wet paper towels for yrs); 4) you press down any dome there might be as soon as it comes outof the oven.

cake_architect Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 10:43pm
post #10 of 30

boo ya'll! lol i level every cake that comes out of my oven icon_sad.gif and i use magic line pans! grrrrrr

luckylibra Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 10:50pm
post #11 of 30

I am so glad you asked as I always wondered as well. I bake at 325 and smack the pans on the counter to get rid of the air bubbles then spin them a bit to pull the batter to the edges and I have never had to level them. I use regular wilton pans as well.

MimiFix Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 11:28pm
post #12 of 30

When I began baking, probably before many of you were born, I bought a Wilton cake leveler. It's still in the original package. I've never had to level any cakes, and I attribute that to baking in a medium cool 350 degrees oven. And don't ask me how old I am. It may say junior member under my name but I'm fairly sure I'm the senior member here.

sully112099 Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 11:42pm
post #13 of 30

I use the cake levels by wilton they work awesome for everyones Oven is different. it keeps the cake from rising to much. Then once cake is done take that off. Cool down 10 mins use my bread knife go flat across the top to make sure it is flat. Then flip onto cardboard to cool.

Marianna46 Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 11:50pm
post #14 of 30

MimiFix, the "46" in my screen name is my birth year - are you sure you're older than me - LOL ?!? My cakes sometimes bake up with a small dome, but I can usually mash it down and not have to level, which is good, because my leveling skills - whether with a knife or the BetterWare leveler (sort of like the Wilton one, but a little more stable, I think) - are close to zero.

MimiFix Posted 24 Mar 2011 , 12:20am
post #15 of 30

Greetings Marianna46, same decade sweetie... I once worked in a miserable upscale market/bakery. The the other pastry chefs would freeze all the cakes before leveling. I suggested they cut back on leavening and lower the oven temp but they were not interested in trying anything new. Spending all that time in the freezer affected their personalities.

Sorelle Posted 24 Mar 2011 , 12:38am
post #16 of 30

My cakes are usually flat and if not I flatten them with towel, my sister has a problem with domes I used to think the problem was elevation I lived at 4500 ft she at near sea level then she moved by me and the only difference is I have a gas oven she has electric. She still has the same problem and swears I'm holding out on her lol !

pounds6 Posted 24 Mar 2011 , 12:44am
post #17 of 30

Wow, what an interesting subject! I have a few pans by wilton, most are Magic Line and Fat Daddios. I cut up towels and use them for baking strips. They work like a charm, last a long time and are cheaper than those silver stips Wilton sells. I bake at 325. I bake from scratch but have baked some box cakes when I first got started. I noticed that scratch cakes do not peak up in the middle as much as scratch cakes. I usually do level just a little bit, and I fill the pan about 1/2 way. I really think I should put a little more batter in each pan and maybe even cut back to 300 degrees. Im using a convection oven I bought from our locak restaurant supply store, as I live in NC and have a "licensed home bakery". Which I have now learned not all states allow.

gidgetdoescakes Posted 24 Mar 2011 , 12:56am
post #18 of 30

I use to think my cakes were level...then I got an agbay lol.....NOW they are level.....

sully112099 Posted 24 Mar 2011 , 12:58am
post #19 of 30

mine use to be too but now that I am making cakes monthly for the family with the bdays and everything else. I am doing fine. got my oven down pat. and the cake too using the wilton silver things outside. got to wet it. pin it to the pan and put it to the top of the pan. Then all is set. I got to send in more pictures of the ones I have made. will do that this weekend. made clowns, Micky Mouse, and a few graduation cakes and Baby shower cakes. Now I need to know how to make Watermelon Frosting for my Step Daughters Cake.

that is the color of her maid of honor and brides maids gowns.

anyone know how to make watermelon color icing please and thank you.

Marianna46 Posted 24 Mar 2011 , 1:23am
post #20 of 30

I just got into caking seriously a couple of years ago, MimiFix, but I worked at a university for a long time. I'm not sure where they kept the freezers there, but I saw a lot of the same thing! As far as the baking strips, I actually DO use them every time I can, and that helps, but I agree that it's sometimes a question of the amount of leavening in the recipe and the baking time. It's the main reason I don't care for supermarket box mixes - they have WAY too much leavening.

sully112099 Posted 24 Mar 2011 , 1:43am
post #21 of 30

sorry I took a tape measure and remeasured the pan it is 11 x 15 x 2 , I knew it was huge for I have a picture of a baby shower cake of what one looks like under my name. if you want to look that is the size of one pan. Two cake mixes. OK

MimiFix Posted 25 Mar 2011 , 12:11am
post #22 of 30

(Greetings again, Marianna46.) This thread has been interesting. Does anyone have pictures of their cake leveling? I'd love to write a short post about this, maybe add some suggestions for how to avoid those high domes; but I need a couple of photos... Anyone?

ycknits Posted 25 Mar 2011 , 12:23am
post #23 of 30

lissacarol - I do just what you do and hardly ever do any trimming to level my cakes... unless, like you said, there happens to be a hard-edge left after I push it down. I get my best results setting my Monogram oven at 325F, vs. 350F. Otherwise, I'm with you... no trimming icon_smile.gif

KarenOR Posted 25 Mar 2011 , 12:33am
post #24 of 30

I don't level either. I do the wet towel out of the oven method and it has always been fine. At least good enough, that the rest is hidden under buttercream.

sweetaudrey Posted 25 Mar 2011 , 1:41am
post #25 of 30

I usually don't have much of an issue. I just trim off what I don't want on them. But I have heard one tip before that I thought I'd share...sorry if someone has already said it and I just didn't see it. But I heard that if you scoop out some of the batter in the center to make a well type thing in the center and then place that batter around the edges then it will help to counteract the dump in the center. I don't know if that would actually work since I would think the batter would eventually settle when sitting in the oven before it solidifies. It's worth a shot though! HTH! icon_biggrin.gif

leah_s Posted 25 Mar 2011 , 2:04am
post #26 of 30

I level every cake, even if it looks level out of the pan. Because it's not. 99% of my cake are wedding cakes, so they need to be close to perfect all the time.

And that's where my Agbay comes in. Best. Tool. Ever.

sully112099 Posted 25 Mar 2011 , 2:58am
post #27 of 30

I use a huge bread knife to level mine. but the newer bread knifes don't have a bunch of ridges now they are solid knifes so awesome to use too. LOL

pounds6 Posted 26 Mar 2011 , 2:12am
post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by pounds6

Wow, what an interesting subject! I have a few pans by wilton, most are Magic Line and Fat Daddios. I cut up towels and use them for baking strips. They work like a charm, last a long time and are cheaper than those silver stips Wilton sells. I bake at 325. I bake from scratch but have baked some box cakes when I first got started. I noticed that scratch cakes do not peak up in the middle as much as scratch cakes. I usually do level just a little bit, and I fill the pan about 1/2 way. I really think I should put a little more batter in each pan and maybe even cut back to 300 degrees. Im using a convection oven I bought from our locak restaurant supply store, as I live in NC and have a "licensed home bakery". Which I have now learned not all states allow.



I meant to say scratch cakes dont peak in the middle as much as box cakes do.

gidgetdoescakes Posted 1 Apr 2011 , 3:22am
post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

I level every cake, even if it looks level out of the pan. Because it's not. 99% of my cake are wedding cakes, so they need to be close to perfect all the time.

And that's where my Agbay comes in. Best. Tool. Ever.





You are exactly right icon_smile.gif

Kristie925 Posted 1 Apr 2011 , 4:01am
post #30 of 30

My oven isn't very level, and it's the kind that's built into the cabinetry, so it would be very difficult to level it. I just over-fill my pans a bit and use the Wilton leveler right across the top of the pan after baking. I end up with perfect 2 inch cakes, with scraps left over for cake balls!

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