Cake Leveling / Teir Question

Decorating By Darthburn Updated 31 Aug 2009 , 6:28pm by Sassy74

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Darthburn Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 9:04pm
post #1 of 16

Ok I have had this question on my mind for a while and never thought to ask. I've been learning on my own, so please forgive such a dumb question.

When leveling your cakes, how much to you actually cut off? I know it needs to be level, but if you are using a 2" pan (which I do) and you saw off 1/2"... now two layers is only 3" tall and not 4".

I always see people refer to 4" tall cakes so I'm wondering if I need to level my cakes and add as many as it takes to make 4"? Use 3 cakes rather than 2? Buy all new 3" pans (oh please I hope not).

I see all the cakes on here so perfectly round and topped FLAT. I want that. The best I have done to help myself so far is I bought those Wilton cooling pan wraps that make the cake cook evenly... those are AWESOME! icon_smile.gif The tops of my cakes are nice and flat rather than bulged, but I still need to level them if I want that flat side and top.

So any help in clearing this up for me would be greatly appreciated. Since as I stated, I'm learning on my own, YouTube instructionals if you know of any that show details would be great too!

Thank you!

15 replies
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SugarFrosted Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 9:30pm
post #2 of 16

I usually level by cutting off the dome while the cake is still in the pan. I use a long serrated knife, with the top of the cake pan as the guide. If your cakes are not that high, perhaps you should add more batter to the pan.

A 3" or 4" wide parchment strip which is long enough to line the sides of the pan makes a perfect collar. Spray or grease or whatever you do to your pan, then insert the strip making sure it overlaps several inches. The parchment will stay in place with the spray.

Fill your pan 3/4 full and it will not overflow because the parchment will hold it. I also use baking strips to help the batter rise more evenly. They are soaked with water (squeeze out excess) and then wrapped around the cake pan before baking. Bake at 325F for a little longer also to get better more even rise.

You will have a higher cake. I always torte my 2" layers to make four 1" layers with filling between. My cakes always end up close to 5" high.

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sadsmile Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 9:36pm
post #3 of 16

You leveler can be set to height. Don't forget you aslo have filling and that adds to the height. I collar my 2" pans with parchment so they climb up nice and high. I can usually get a full 2" of cake and then taking of the slight hump which usually equals the amount of filling I put so I still wind up with a 4" cake consisting of two almost 2" layers plus filling.

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Darthburn Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 10:54pm
post #4 of 16

Thank you for the help! icon_smile.gif

I haven't tried using parchment paper before so I can give that a go.

I know this is awful, but I don't put fillings in.... YET. The experience I have had filling a cake... the top layer slides really bad. I've tried everything except spreading an ultra thin layer. If I do it that way, the cake isnt going to gain anything.

I'll try adding more batter and the parchment to see if I can get some height. I have a leveler but prefer to do what SugarFrosted said and trim my cakes in the pan.

I hate saying this because it makes me feel like I compare everything to Ace of Cakes... but it looks to me like their cakes are only about an inch thick (maybe because of the torting?) and when you see them come out of the oven in the beginning credits they are domed worse than mine ever have been!

Those baking strips sure have stopped that a lot for me. I love those.

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sadsmile Posted 29 Aug 2009 , 11:09pm
post #5 of 16

Ah... you need a turn table! it helps you to see if you are leveling right and it helps spread filling and frosting evenly. Once you put your cake on there get down to eye level and give it a good spin. if it dances and wobbles then it's not level and the next layer will slide with gravity. You also need to try a good buttercream. Sugarshacks or Indidebi's are great and sturdy. If the icing isn't sturdy then things slide around. thumbs_up.gif

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WildSugar Posted 30 Aug 2009 , 12:25am
post #6 of 16

I also learned to use a metal flower nail to help the cake cook more even, especially in larger cakes. It cuts down on how much you have to cut off to make it level.

All you do is grease your pan and the nail, set the nail pointy side up in the middle on the bottom of your pan. Pour your batter in (just watch the nail, they tend to slide around!) and bake as normal! Works really well!

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Darthburn Posted 30 Aug 2009 , 12:58am
post #7 of 16

I do have a turn table (finally! my awesome wife got me one for my birthday... yaaa! haha). I think it's just me not wanting to make what's supposed to be a 2" cake now a 1" cake. I'm going to try the parchment paper for sure.

You know I had heard about the flower nail awhile ago! I can't believe I forgot that! My luck I'll end up leaving it in icon_sad.gif

This has been great for me so far... thank you all again. Just curious what pans everyone is using? I mean, I just bought a Wilton multiple size set.

I feel bad having all Wilton stuff... It's like, I've played guitar for 20 years and at first I had basic stuff. Now that I am more seasoned there are brands I wouldn't prefer to use. I feel like that now... having Wilton materials and asking all of you questions... kinda like you're going to tell me to go buy some REAL equipment. And of course you haven't, I'm just paranoid. But does that make sense?


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sadsmile Posted 30 Aug 2009 , 1:16am
post #8 of 16

I use Wilton's round pans they are just fine. For square cake magic line are the good ones for crisp corners. I don't torte all the time it depends on how much filling/frosting is wanted. I like more cake and my frosting on the outside gets pretty thick. So most of my cakes have two layers per tier just like the front of a cake box.

There really sin't a need for baking with a nail unless you have an unusual size pan that is extra deep or extra large and needs it. You can turn your oven down to 320-325 and bake a few minutes longer which helps the cake bake more level. Baking strips help keep the edges from over baking also. The major thing is to get away from Wiltons edible products. Make your own buttercream, fondant, try other brand flavors and use Americolor gel colors they are far better.

I have loads of Wilton tools. It's great for learning with.

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leah_s Posted 31 Aug 2009 , 1:57am
post #9 of 16

You don't use fillings? Just for the sake of clarity, *whatever* is between the cake layers is called filling. It might be buttercream. It might be something else. Filling is a product AND a location.

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shkepa Posted 31 Aug 2009 , 2:11am
post #10 of 16

To make the cake a little biy taller so when you level it you dont loose your height try a cake extender. this will give you a taller cake and more batter. Also once you take the cake out of the over press down the cake e little to make it more level and you will trim off a lot less cake.

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Darthburn Posted 31 Aug 2009 , 3:27am
post #11 of 16

Ohhhhhh I did not know that. icon_smile.gif Ooops! hehe!

I use buttercream for a filling. I just always thought of a filling as like a fruit or something.

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sadsmile Posted 31 Aug 2009 , 1:34pm
post #12 of 16

A 1/4" of filling is still filling. When things are leveled really good and the buttercream is a good recipe like sugar shack's or indydebi's it will work. You are gonna have to try it sometime. Your ising should be like a soft whipped peanut butter consistancy- Nice and thick.

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luddroth Posted 31 Aug 2009 , 1:52pm
post #13 of 16

It's not hard to split layers -- don't be afraid to try it. Put the cake on your turntable. If you haven't already leveled it in the pan, you can do it now by carefully slicing off just enough to leave it flat. A half inch would be way more than I would ever cut away. Just a sliver to make the top flat. Then, using a good, long, serrated knife, place the knife at the mid-point of your cake and, pressing gently in, start rotating the table with your other hand. By the time it makes a full revolution, you should have a shallow mark all the way around the cake. Keep going, pressing in a little harder while turning the table. You'll be cutting deeper into the cake with each revolution until you get all the way through. Have a cardboard cake board ready, and slide the top piece gently off onto the cardboard. Now you have 2 flat, level 1-inch layers.

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CakeRx Posted 31 Aug 2009 , 1:55pm
post #14 of 16

How much filling do you all typically use? Mine usually isn't more than 1/4" high, due to my fear of a slice of cake being more filling/fondant than cake. Is there a standard? Thanks!

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luddroth Posted 31 Aug 2009 , 2:08pm
post #15 of 16

That's about right, and back to Darthburn's problem with the sliding layers, if you pipe a dam around the edge of the cake with a firm buttercream before you put the filling on, it will prevent the filling from oozing out and help keep the layers in place.

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Sassy74 Posted 31 Aug 2009 , 6:28pm
post #16 of 16

I got a great tip, I think from indydebi??? I don't cut my layers to level them anymore. All a cut surface does for me is to insure lots of crumbs (even upside down, they somehow get everywhere). So, what I've started doing is to level my layers with a paper towel. As soon as they come out of the oven, I take a paper towel, fold it in half or fourths, and gently use it to press the cake layer level. I move around the cake and press a little at the time, not all at once. It works great. I haven't cut a cake to level it in months. I felt like I was wasting cake (even freezing for cake truffles...I mean, how many cake truffles can a gal make?). Also, as I said, too many crumbs for me. Any unevenness remaining can be accomodated for by my filling. I can almost always get the cake very level doing this. HTH!

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