Cake Not Very Level

Decorating By erinmac Updated 23 Jan 2007 , 6:47pm by GeminiRJ

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erinmac Posted 26 Nov 2004 , 3:19pm
post #1 of 16

I'm new to this site and just love it! I've already gotten some great tips. What I'd like help with now is getting my cakes to bake up a little more level.I usually use Betty Crocker super moist cake mix and everyone loves the taste of my cakes.When I bake an 8x12 size it seems to have a really low corner or two and a hump in the middle.I don't really want to go buy the baking strips to level it out.Any suggestions as to how I can avoid this problem?

15 replies
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GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 26 Nov 2004 , 4:21pm
post #2 of 16

Well, unfortunately all I can give is hearsay advice. So far I have been lucky and not had that problem.

As far as the strips go, I've read several times where bakers make their own strips using terry cloth towels. Cut them to size and wrap around. I don;t know if they are taping them on or pinning or sewing on Velcro. But I've heard it works. Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure they wet them before placing them on the cake pan.

Someone help me out here......

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Ladycake Posted 26 Nov 2004 , 5:17pm
post #3 of 16

Without seeing what your doing I am searching in the dark to help you but this is what I think you may want to do if you dont all ready do it...


Calif4dawn has told you about baking strips I know that a lot of people use them and they work great for them I have not been able to get them to work for me.. But this is what I do .... I dump my cake mix in to my pan I take the splatula and move the cake mix around some to make it look even to me.. Then I take a bounce the cake pan on the counter just pick it up a bit the whole thing and drop it on the counter and do that a few time it gets the bubbles out of the mix and it seems to move the batter to the counters of the pans.... I hope one of these things helps you ..

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erinmac Posted 26 Nov 2004 , 5:42pm
post #4 of 16

I always drop my pans on the counter to get out any air bubbles.I've heard that baking at 325 instead of 350 can help. Have you ever heard of this? I'm putting a cake in the oven right now and i'm going to try the lower temp. Hope it works out. icon_smile.gif

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Ladycake Posted 26 Nov 2004 , 6:30pm
post #5 of 16

Yes I always bake at the 325 when I am doing cake no matter what cake its is... ... Now you know that the hump that your getting on your cakes can be cut off right to make them lay flat?? I cut all of my tops off of my cakes to make them lay flat... if you dont tell anyone they will not know...

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GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 27 Nov 2004 , 2:47am
post #6 of 16

I also drop my pans to the counter. I hold the pan with batter about 4-5 inches above the counter and just let it drop- BANG!!. I do this about 3-4 times. I have never tried a baking strip. So far I haven't needed it, so it would be a waste of money. I also bake at 325. I usually have a small little hump I may or may not cut off, depending on what it is I'm doing.

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erinmac Posted 27 Nov 2004 , 8:40pm
post #7 of 16

I pretty much have always cut off at least a bit of a hump, which is fine. This was a case of sometimes having 1 corner being really low.Anyway I baked 2 cakes yesterday and had my oven at 325 instead of 350. I think this made a huge difference!Both of my cakes turned out tall and beautiful.Thanks for all the helpful advice. icon_biggrin.gif Now I'm off to draw Thomas the tank engine on it.Wish me luck!

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GHOST_USER_NAME Posted 27 Nov 2004 , 10:58pm
post #8 of 16

Luck headed your way!!!!!

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 28 Nov 2004 , 5:18am
post #9 of 16

Well, as usual, you got some great advice! Just wanted to add that commercial bakers do thump the pans twice or so on the counter and this is to get rid of the air bubbles.
I agree, with some cakes, it also serves to level out the batter - some, but unfortunately not all. Not the batters that are super thick - you really have to spread these ones out. Try making the four corners of your cake batter higher than the centre - this trick works well with some pans.
Commercial bakers generally don't grease the sides of the pans, only the bottom. This is to allow the cake to cling to the sides as it rises - sort of a support for the batter. Unfortunately, this isn't something we like to do because it means that you have to use a knife to loosen the sides of the cake to get it out of the pan and you will scratch your pan etc.
Like others have suggested, I also use 325F for most cakes, especially if the sides are 2 inches or higher, unlike the traditional pans we used to use which were 1.5 inches high. If your pan has a dark interior or is Teflon coated, black or is glass, then always cook at 25 degrees lower than you would in a Wilton type aluminum pan.
Also, I find that the Decorator Preferred true square pans, the ones with the really square corners, work better or tend to have less issues with the corners being lower. Just my opinion.
It is funny that the way we used to judge a good cake was a cake that had a slight crown in the centre. Now, as decorators, we want that flat top. Personally, and again just my opinion, but I like a true flat cake top. Meaning one where the top of the cake is levelled to the point where the top meets the side. This can really become an issue with a stacked cake where just cutting off that centre bump, isn't good enough. So may I suggest, just give it a try. This is my reason. When you do a true levelling of a cake, then when you place your borders on the top or when you go to get your corners nice and smooth, well it will make your job so much easier you will be pleasantly surprised. The added bonus is when you take a picture of your cake, it won't look like the icing border on the top goes down at the corners - another result of not levelling your cake.
I learned a lot about the difference this makes when my youngest daughter was working as a decorator at a commercial bakery. One day she came home when I was about to crumbcoat my cake and told me I hadn't levelled it enough. Now I let her at it and when she was done, well let me just say that after eating all of the cake scraps, I didn't need any supper, haha! So since then I nearly always follow her advice. Recently I made sheet cakes for a function and as they weren't terribly high, I didn't want to level too much off of the cakes and I ended up with a bit of droop in the corners. Should have filled that pan more and levelled!
Now you can make an absolutely perfectly straight and even border, but if the corners droop, well it spoils the effect.
Another small trick is to use a bit more batter than the pan calls for - about 1/2 cup, so as to ensure that the whole cake will rise higher at the sides too and this will make it a lot easier to level. Just my two peanuts worth,
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

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SquirrellyCakes Posted 28 Nov 2004 , 5:19am
post #10 of 16

Oh yes and I forgot to say, all the best of luck!
Hugs Squirrelly

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erinmac Posted 30 Nov 2004 , 1:39am
post #11 of 16

Thanks to all for the great suggestions and opinions. My cakes ended up with only a slight hump and were great.The Thomas I did on the cake turned out great and my friend was very happy with her son's cake.I'm sure I'll be back again for some more of the awesome advice you all seem to have.Great support! Great people! icon_biggrin.gif

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awela Posted 30 Nov 2004 , 4:04am
post #12 of 16

First off, let me say "hi" to all my baking friends. Now let me share some techniques that help me to accomplish leveled cakes.

I use the baking strips and believe me, they work. It's true they are expensive but the same results can be accomplished by wetting a clean kitchen towel and placing it around the baking pan, be sure to secure the ends with safety pin (s). If the cake still ends up with a hump you should do the following. Immediately after taking it out from the oven you should place a clean folded kitchen towel over it and GENTLY (BE CAREFUL TO DON'T GET BURNED) press down on the cake. I guarantee you the result will be a flat cake.

Also when square/rectagular cakes end up with unleveled corners after you've filled them you can wet marshmellows and insert them into the corners to level the corners then you can proceed to crumb ice/finish the cake. The result will be nice leveled corners plus it would add more flavor to the corners.

By the way, I also bake my cakes at 325 degrees and do not open the oven door only after 25 minutes to rotate the pans then I will know more or less for how long I must keep them in the oven, sometimes 10-15 more minutes. It will depend on the size of the baking pans and how many cakes you're baking at once. HTH

Good luck!

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campbelland Posted 23 Dec 2004 , 1:46am
post #13 of 16

Hi, I had that same problem with my cakes too. Then I got the Wilton baking strips and you wouldnt believe how level they are now. No hump in the middle anymore at all. Mine were lower on one end too until my husband put a level on my oven shelf and turned the legs to the stove until he got it perfect. So both really helped, and I always bang mine on the coutner too to bring the air bubbles to the surface. Thats a old 4-H baking trick.

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Candy120 Posted 23 Jan 2007 , 5:22am
post #14 of 16

Whenever I have a cake that is drooping on the corners, I take a cupcake out of the freezer and cut it however thick I need it to prop up the corners. I cut the bottom of the cupcake in four pieces, so there will be square sides on it and tuck it under the corner. Does that make sense?

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Cindy_Gl Posted 23 Jan 2007 , 4:33pm
post #15 of 16

It sounds like you have gotten some good advice. I suggest saving money for some good magic line pans, believe me you won't need to worry about the hump, or baking strips (it's funny how some think these are the best things, and I find them worthless, I'm thinking it depends on what type of pan you have). My cakes come out pretty level. If there is a slight hump, I use the damp towel method and flatten it. I won't bake in anything but a magic line pan.

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GeminiRJ Posted 23 Jan 2007 , 6:47pm
post #16 of 16

You can drop the temperature of the oven to as low as 300, but no lower. I usually bake at 315 (just the way my oven bakes). I rarely have to level the cakes, and it keeps the edges from drying out.

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