How Do I Get My Cakes Flat?

Baking By CassyCakes Updated 13 Jul 2015 , 9:01pm by JustBakedSLO

CassyCakes Posted 8 Jul 2015 , 10:21pm
post #1 of 25
Im still going to school, to become a pastry chef but we haven't learned how to bake a flat cake. I already have a pretty busy cake business, but i find itt really annoying having to cut every single layer every time. I mean i understand we have to level the cakes but when i bake my cakes it has like a big lump in the middle. Is there something im doing wrong maybe? or is there an easy trick to baking flat cakes?
24 replies
Apti Posted 8 Jul 2015 , 10:32pm
post #2 of 25

Hi and welcome to the forum.  There are a number of ways to achieve a flat cake.    Be aware that different recipes will have different amounts of rise while baking, and shrinkage while cooling. 

Reduce baking heat to 325F and bake longer.

Put a tea towel on the cake IMMEDIATELY (within seconds!) after it is removed from the oven and press down until it is level.

Bake at 325F and use Bake Even Strips from Wilton.

Bake at 325F and use Bake Even Strips and metal flower nails from Wilton.

http://www.wilton.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=8&threadid=148262&FTVAR_MSGDBTABLE= 

Always remember a saying from one of our CakeCentral members (can't remember who...):

One baker's never-ever is another baker's I always do this!

Goreti Posted 8 Jul 2015 , 10:52pm
post #3 of 25

I use Ateco heating nails and the Wilton bake even strips.  It does the trick for me.

Jeff_Arnett Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 2:44am
post #4 of 25

I agree your best bet is baking strips and a bit slower over.  I used to like Wilton's strips, but since they changed from the silver ones to the purple ones not so much.  I now buy the 25 yard roll of Magi-Cake strips from www.magi-cake.com and cut pieces about one inch larger than needed, then staple them together with a heavy duty stapler.  I write the pan size on them in permanent marker and hang them on a pegboard near the oven.  You can also buy the Magi-Cake strips in smaller size packages if you don't need as much.  I bake at 325 F.

johnson6ofus Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 4:53am
post #5 of 25


Quote by @Apti on 6 hours ago

Hi and welcome to the forum.  There are a number of ways to achieve a flat cake.    Be aware that different recipes will have different amounts of rise while baking, and shrinkage while cooling. 

Reduce baking heat to 325F and bake longer.

Put a tea towel on the cake IMMEDIATELY (within seconds!) after it is removed from the oven and press down until it is level.

Bake at 325F and use Bake Even Strips from Wilton.

Bake at 325F and use Bake Even Strips and metal flower nails from Wilton.

http://www.wilton.com/forums/messageview.cfm?catid=8&threadid=148262&FTVAR_MSGDBTABLE= 

Always remember a saying from one of our CakeCentral members (can't remember who...):

One baker's never-ever is another baker's I always do this!

^^^ Yup, yup and yup. OR.... eat lots of cut off cake "domes". Yum!

Pastrybaglady Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 6:56am
post #6 of 25

All of the above work, I will add if you have the money, Parrish Magic Line pans will do the job all by themselves.

Jeff_Arnett Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 2:06pm
post #7 of 25

Hmmm....I've used Magic Lines for 30 years but cakes don't necessarily bake completely flat in them....but then again, there's a lot of factors at play...including recipes.  I once read that batter should be between 72 and 75 degrees F when it goes into the oven in order to bake without a dome...I've honestly never tested this idea out though.

 

Pastrybaglady Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 3:46pm
post #8 of 25

I'm going by the ML 9" x 13" pan I have. I do push the batter up the sides and corners bit to encourage flatness.  When my cakes come out of that pan they are as flat as you can reasonably expect.  After I flip them out I do apply a little pressure and it is perfectly flat.  Do you bake on a lower rack?  That helps as well.

Jeff_Arnett Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 6:29pm
post #9 of 25

I use a commercial oven and bake on all 5 racks.

 

 

SquirrellyCakes Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 6:35pm
post #10 of 25

I would say that the recipe itself has a lot to do with the cake rise. I think letting the batter filled pans sit on the counter for 25 minutes helps with the rise.

I have various brands of pans and find that they all bake the same recipe with about the same rise.

I don't use the centre baking core, upside down nail or baking strips. I don't apply pressure to the cake top to flatten. I level with a serrated knife because I prefer it over my cake levellers. Very little is needed.

I nearly always bake from scratch but a few days ago I was in a hurry. It was my 40th wedding anniversary and darn it, I was going to eat cake!  I made a Duncan Hines Chocolate  Fudge cake in 8 inch pans. Followed the box instructions and substituted 1% milk for the water.  Baked as normal and ended up with such large humps in the centres, that I levelled off at least 1/3 of each layer. Hubby was happy because he is my levelling disposal unit. But the cake layers were not nearly as high as they should have been.

Don't know when the Duncan Hines ingredients changed or if something went wrong with this box because this has never happened before. I am better off with scratch cakes, for sure. Incidentally, hubby was very disappointed that the leftover quantity of icing didn't match the cake levellings.


Jeff_Arnett Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 6:47pm
post #11 of 25

SquirrellyCakes,

 I've never tried that, but I saw a recipe for chocolate cake, I think it was from Ghiradelli, that said to let the batter filled pans sit 25 minutes before baking to "even the leavening out".

 I have noticed that when I bake large batches of cupcakes, a pan or two might have to wait in the cooler while the oven is full.  Those pans that have rest time don't bake quite as high, but do have a more flat, level top.

 I think I will do some experimenting and see what I can find out.

 

BTW...I stopped baking from mixes years ago, but on occasion if I just want cake for home, I will use a mix....then I remember why I stopped using them and went to scratch....the taste, texture, etc., is totally different than it was 20 years ago.  Back then I loved Betty Crocker's Sour Cream White Cake mix...and so did my customers...I baked it 4:1 over any other flavor.  Now they are all yucky if you ask me!

 

 

Pastrybaglady Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 7:03pm
post #12 of 25

SquirellyCakes the box mixes have changed as far as the weight and volume per box.  I think they try to make up for the difference with more leavening leading to extra humpage.

SquirrellyCakes Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 7:23pm
post #13 of 25

I find that letting the batter filled pans sit like that works well. It reminds me of proofing bread.

I think what I dislike about mixes is the texture. I find that it feels like I have just eaten fluff. Spongey fluff. But not spongey in a good way and not fluffy like candy floss. They are moist and will stay moist for days and days and days.  Which makes me wonder if they are filled with preservatives or perhaps they snuck in some embalming chemicals. They are like roaches, they live forever.

I  grew up with Grandma's scratch cakes. Cake mixes only became available in Canada in the 60's I think. In the States they were available earlier. Some of them back then tasted -  well - artificial. My mother only liked to bake pies, so she was thrilled to find an easy way to make a cake. Even then the texture wasn't like a regular cake. So I never cared for them because I always compared them to homemade.

Now you have generations who don't like homemade because they grew up with cake mixes and they think scratch cakes are dense or not moist enough.

But what do I know? I come from the times when a high centred cake was the sign of a good baker and a good recipe. Now we want them to look like flat flapjacks. The times they are a'changin'.

jchuck Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 8:11pm
post #14 of 25

I'm with Goreti.....use the rose nails in my cake....hardly ever get a dome. And I use the tea towel method as well to push gently down on the cake to get it perfectly flat. 

Apti Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 8:25pm
post #15 of 25

@pastrybaglady~~"humpage"  adjective, having to do with cakes rising in the middle; verb, having to do with badly trained small dogs

jgifford Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 8:30pm
post #16 of 25

At our restaurant, I bake at 325 and put the pans on a wet towel straight out of the oven.  If I have to cut any off, I use a serrated knife and do it immediately before I even take the cake out of the pan.  I don't usually have to trim much but have noticed that I don't have to trim my red velvet very much at all - - difference in recipes maybe? 

The only other thing I can think of is that after I fill the pans I give them a little spin to even out the batter before they go into the oven.

Pastrybaglady Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 9:04pm
post #17 of 25

@Apti   I knew someone would have to comment on that - you were high on my list of candidates :D

johnson6ofus Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 9:56pm
post #18 of 25


Quote by @Apti on 1 hour ago

@pastrybaglady~~"humpage"  adjective, having to do with cakes rising in the middle; verb, having to do with badly trained small dogs

awesome... I always disliked small dogs....

SquirrellyCakes Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 10:02pm
post #19 of 25

"Humph" -  comment and word filler spoken followed by a chuckle after reading the Apti/Pastrybaglady exchange.

Pastrybaglady, I think you are right about the addition of leavening agent replacing flour etc.

Jgifford, I usually level in the pan too but that cake mix cake was only about an inch high on the sides and two in the centre. My red velvet doesn't get high in the middle nor does the carrot cake.


FrostedMoon Posted 9 Jul 2015 , 10:10pm
post #20 of 25

I stopped using strips around my pans years ago, but do bake at a lower temp for longer.  I only use flower nails if the cake is over 10".   There is definitely variation depending on your recipe.  I do a doctored cake mix recipe that uses completely different ingredients and amounts than what is on the box.  It is dense and moist and most definitely not the light wiggly cake you get when you bake with the recipe on the box.  It ends up nearly flat with very minimal trimming.  I use the same recipe for cupcakes and will let them sit longer and start out in a higher temp oven to make them dome MORE.  

CassyCakes Posted 13 Jul 2015 , 6:52pm
post #21 of 25

Thank you all so much for your help! I ended up doing the "waiting 25 mins before putting it in the oven" and what would know they came out flat!

I learned so many tips from you guys , cant wait to experiment with some more!

Again Thank you all so much :)

SquirrellyCakes Posted 13 Jul 2015 , 7:30pm
post #22 of 25

Glad that trick worked for you!

jchuck Posted 13 Jul 2015 , 7:43pm
post #23 of 25

Have to say, I've read many tips & tricks over the years, but confess, I never heard of leaving the batter in your pan for 20-25 min before baking. I'm definitely going to try it. Gives you some time to do some other cake related stuff while you're batter is settling.....

SquirrellyCakes Posted 13 Jul 2015 , 8:45pm
post #24 of 25

Jchuck, I came across it quite by accident when I didn't have enough room in my old 27" wide Jenn-Air built- in oven to put 2 dozen cupcakes side by side. I left a batch on the counter and ended up with nice slightly rounded at the edges but flat in the middle, cupcakes. I do it sometimes with cakes too - up to maybe 35 minutes or so. My room is always 70F. Don't think it is such a good idea if your baking area is 100 F though. With some things, especially cake mixes - if you follow cake mix instructions and beat as long as they suggest - you may get large holes in the cakes. Did an experiment on that. Has to do with the way things rise at certain temperatures and the air bubble formed from the gasses created by the leavening action.

I have a 30" oven now but still do this with my cupcakes especially.

JustBakedSLO Posted 13 Jul 2015 , 9:01pm
post #25 of 25

Make sure your ingredients are at room temp before beginning your recipe. Bake at a lower temp for longer, and use a flower nail on large diameter cakes. Those are things that have worked for me. :)

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