I have just uploaded anew cake photo into cake disasters in hopes that someone can help me. I'm wondering if there's a tutorial that I can view that will show me how to make a square cake look level and amazing. Fairly new to cake decorating, last year or so and I really could use some expert advice. any tricks of the trade?
I level my cakes by putting a few cake circles or pieces of cardboard (cut to the size of the pan) inside the cake pan I baked the cake in. I put the cake back in the pan (while it is still slightly frozen - I freeze all my cakes it makes them easier to level and they won't rip). Make sure the top of the cake sticks out over the top of the pan and then take a serrated knife and cut across the top using the pan as your guide.
Do you mean the baked layers, as in the layers not baking even? Or, do you mean how you frost the cake? If it's how to frost square cakes evenly, check the link. Save it for reference too.
As for baked layers, if I have a hump on the cake even with using bake even strips, and flower nails, I'll take a a clean cake/cookie cooling grid or cookie sheet and put it on top the just out of the oven cake and press down gently (use clean oven mitts or cloth as cake is hot) until the rack is resting on the rim of the cake pan. I hold the rack in position for a couple of minutes and when I take it off, my cake layer is nice and level. If perchance I have a huge hump, I'll trim most of it off before doing the cookie rack press down trick.
Also, if my square or sheet layers are lower on the corners than the middle of the cake, I stuff slightly squished mini marshmallows or large marshmallows cut up under the corners and part of the cake sides if need be, until the cake looks level. A little trick I learned from a fellow caker.
Once you frost your cake and add the border, you'd never know the marshmallows were there!
sparkle25, that is brilliant! Brilliant, I tell you! I have never been able to level using the pan as a guide because my cakes have never risen above the sides of the pan. Duh, put cardboard bases underneath...I don't normally keep that many cardboard bases around as I am a hobby baker, but I can adapt and I am TOTALLY using that idea next time I have a big cake to level!
if your cake is not rising well, are you using baking strips? What causes short, hard corners on a cake is the metal pan conducting heat directly to the cake batter, while the center takes much longer to bake. We leave the cake in the oven long enough for hte middle to bake, which means the corners get overbaked.
here's my thread on the science of baking strips and how/why they work:
Here's what my cakes look like in the pan when I use baking strips:
A friend showed me how to use flannel instead of baking strips. Just cut it into strips, dampen, wrap around the pan and hold with clothepins. It's cheaper, reusable and works! I apologize if you've all heard that tip a thousand times.
tearing a towel (terrycloth?) into strips works well, too. Anything that is thick enough to hold water, i.e. stay wet, thru most of the baking process which is what keeps the metal pan cool to prevent overbaked edges and corners.
those are some great tips. Thank You.
To get straight sides use a bench scraper. Have you seen the upside down technique? A video was posted recently. That's how I get straight sides and crisp top edge.
Thank you for all the replies. I have stopped using the cake strips because I didn't like how my cakes were turning out. They were taking way too long to cook as you say the edges were way over cooked. I will check out these links. I'm just feeling very discouraged today. I look at all the lovely cakes here and think my don't even begin to measure up. I want so badly to get better, it just doesn't seem to be happening!
Thank you for all the replies. I have stopped using the cake strips because I didn't like how my cakes were turning out. They were taking way too long to cook as you say the edges were way over cooked.
You were using the baking strips and the edges were over cooked? There have to be other factors involved because that's the exact opposite of what's suppose to happen. I've used baking strips on all of my cake pans for years and have never had that happen. Yes, mine take a little longer to bake (I also reduce the heat by 25 degrees) but only 5-10 minutes, maybe 15 depending on the size of the cake. No biggie in the grand scheme of things.
This may be a silly question, but were you wetting the baking strips before putting them on the pan? (I know one person who didn't know they were suppose to be wet down first, that's why I ask.)
Hi not a dumb question, I was wetting them. I thought maybe they were too old. I've had them at least 10 years and they were looking rather grungy. I usually lower the heat to 325 on my chocolate cakes, I will try on the yellow. My issue was that the outside of the yellow cakes, both sides and top were becoming crunchy when using the cake strips. I ended up having to trim the cakes anyway so I just stopped using them.
I have never used the baking strips but after all my research today I am def going to run out and get some... as soon as I get off work BUT.. when using the baking strips and filling the pan up to where the cake rises out thus making the layers pretty tall do you only used 2 layers per tier or do you use 3? Also, which method do you use for stacking your cakes? I have stacked several cakes and they turn out pretty well but not well enough for my OCD so I am trying to find a better way. I was looking at the SPS system today.. is that the one you use? if so what size posts do you get?
Anytime I made a yellow cake, it just s*cked!!! Yellow cakes seem to always come out "crunchy", they seem to have cornbread texture, and jsut don't work for me. I finally just started adding yellow food coloring to white cake batter and bingo bango .... yellow cake!
I use two 2" layers per tier and I use wooden dowels to assemble the stacked cakes. Here's some step by step pics on how I stack: http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=6849089#6849089
Interesting. I never have an issue with the yellow cakes, unless I use the strips. Funny how it's different for different people.
[quote="indydebi"]Anytime I made a yellow cake, it just s*cked!!! Yellow cakes seem to always come out "crunchy", they seem to have cornbread texture, and jsut don't work for me. I finally just started adding yellow food coloring to white cake batter and bingo bango .... yellow cake!
That's really clever. There's more than one way to "skin a cat" isn't there?
cakegirl, I wish I could take credit, but I got this idea from another well known and talented cake artist!
I finally just started adding yellow food coloring to white cake batter and bingo bango .... yellow cake!
And nobody ever complained that your yellow cake didn't taste like yellow cake? I suppose most people wouldn't know the difference anyway, it's subtle enough.
A while ago I tried a yellow cake recipe passed on from a friend which I think originated with Cooks Illustrated, and I won't ever use anything else now. It actually came out moist! IIRC (I don't have it handy) the trick is to do with whipping the eggs first, rather than starting with creaming the butter.
Less batter in the pan. I bake from scratch so not sure if it's different, but rather than use one pan, use two or three and fill them the size you want each layer. They'll also cook faster.
Have a thermometer inside your oven, then you'll know if it's actually up to temp or not. Your oven may run hotter than what you are setting it at. Oven therm is cheap and easy, hooks onto the rack.
Turn your pans halfway through cooking so it cooks evenly as well.