I read once to use the top of the cake pan as a guide to level the dome off a cake layer. It explained to lay the side of your knife on the top ledge of the cake pan and gently saw through the dome to level. This gives you a nice level top except that the sides of my cakes don't raise all the way past the edge. Does this matter when stacking a 3 tiered wedding cake? Or should I be cutting across at the lowest height of the cake. I hope this makes sense. I'm having a hard time trying to explain it. Hopefully someone out there has experienced this and it makes sense to them. I would appreciate any help on this. I don't want to spend the money on one of those leveling pieces as I'm making my wedding cake and probably won't use all the stuff I've bought again.
Use the pan if you can use it as a guide, that's the best way of you don't have a leveller. If the lowest edge of the layer is below the cake pan top you can still use the pan and just kind of fill the low edge with icing to build it up level with the flat top.
Or, take a long serrated bread knife and put it against the side of the cake where the highest part of the edge is. Brace your elbow against your waist so that the knife is going to be stable and stay in the same place, and turn the cake, not the knife, to level the cake. If the knife stays in the same spot it will level the top off.
,If your cake didn't rise to the edge of the pan, you can just trim the dome down a bit. But I have to caution. If you are stacking,every layer of the cake still needs to be sitting level! I never had a good "eye" for that. Best of luck.
On suggestion...use Magi-Cake Strips (get the originals, not the Wilton ones!)...they will make a huge difference overall both in the height of your cakes and them baking more level overall.
If your cakes dome above the pan, you can level with a long knife using the pan's top edge as your guide. Finding a knife that long might not be easy.
Another way is to use a piece of thread or dental floss, wrapped around your fingers and stretched tightly, to saw off the top of the cake. This method works great, especially for larger layers where you might have to invest a lot in a long knife.
In the long run, your best bet is to invest in a good leveler.
Another option is to depan the cake, put a cake board or two inside the pan (may have to trim to fit) to build up the height, reinsert cake and trim the top level with the the pan. What you're looking for is enough build in the bottom of the cake pan to bring the lowest point of the cake top even with the pan so you can remove the excess.
The same method, used with more boards, can be used to tort but requires care in measuring to get equal layers.
Thank you everyone for all your wonderful suggestions. CTD1 what a clever idea! You really know how to think out of the box.
Hi, also what I've learned too (which hopefully helps you, it did take a little practice) but if i screw up leveling a cake layer, the lady I interned with showed me a trick! Use icing to make up for that trouble spot you might of went a little low with instead of constantly cutting down til everything is leveled perfectly and you're accidentally left with a very thin cake layer. She would use the bottom of the cake layer as her top! and when she put the cake on a board (the messed up layer part would be on the bottom with the board, she's fill it with icing in the edge parts that weren't straight across. I hope this makes sense as well trying to describe it to you. best of luck! Just keep patient, trust me, start freaking out and everything seems harder then it really is.
I thought the same thing as CTD1 to torte the cake.
Also, a few years back, someone used her regular long serrated knife with strong magnets (rare earth magnets?) on each side (at tip of knife and close to the handle) and she got herself her own leveler. Cake Central deleted her picture and I can't find the original post, but that's what she did. Hope you can picture the idea.
I do like BakersLife and cut the rounded portion above the pan if there is any or the cake is really unlevel and flip the cake upside down, give it a firm press to make sure it's level and fill the gap at the bottom with icing and a border. Much less cake waste.