This is just a super quick and easy tutorial on how to have your cakes coming out of the oven level.
You can also level your cakes after they have been baked, a method that almost all bakers use, but this helps you get an even cake layer prior to baking.
The first thing you should so is start with a good recipe! If your recipe has the proper ration of baking powder and/or baking soda, you should have evenly distributed cake coming out of the oven.
Every time I make my favorite chocolate cake, it comes out perfectly. Its like Ina Garten knows how to cook or something.
Now, on to the baking!
Start with a clean pan. This is a six inch pan I got from Walmart.
I have added strips of towel around the edges. Be sure to soak them first!! Just wring out the excess water and wrap around your pan.
Those towel strips are just my cheap version of these Cake Strips from Wilton.
Photo courtesy of Wilton
Mine are old. Tattered. Used.
(but only if its not weird to love tattered towel strips. If it is weird then I so do not love them.)
Now, get a solid layer of cooking spray in your pan. You can also use the butter and flour method, but that is slightly time consuming and the new baking sprays work just as well.
I try to make sure the sides are fully covered. This helps the cake break away from the sides more easily.
Now add your batter. I typically set my timer for five minutes less then the recipe suggests... this way I can monitor the cake closely in the final baking stages. Have a toothpick or small sharp knife on hand to test cake.
If there are cracks insert into the cracks, otherwise just insert into middle of cake. If it comes out clean or with one or two crumbs, you are good to go!
*I once heard a famous baker say, "If you toothpick comes out clean your cake is over cooked and will be dry." Just thought I'd share.
Here is the cake out of the oven. Slightly brown on top. Has pulled away from the sides.
And is totally level.
Now, I am a fairly new baker and am always learning and I certainly own one of these handy dandy inventions.
And use it often! Not every recipe is perfectly calibrated, and not every baker oven is perfect either.
You can also use a long, sharp serrated knife to cut off any dome or excess on your cake. When I do that I almost always end up with a lopsided cake.
Those are just a few tips that have helped me, and I hope they can help you too.
And with any luck, you will get to see the final product of that rainbow speckled cake very soon!
A very smart reader (lunanoir) just sent this fabulous tip!
I recently learned through a bon appetit recipe for a chocolate raspberry cake that if your cake comes out domed, while it's still hot from the oven (and in the pan), press it down your hand after covering it with a clean dishcloth or a paper towel.
Worked like a charm.