How to Bake Flat Cake Layers

in DIY, How-To

How To Bake A Flat Cake

I’m not sure there will ever come a day when baking isn’t magical to me. I still get giddy when I turn on the oven light, peek through the glass to see biscuits doubling in size. Or when a waif of baking banana bread skips through the house and under my little nose. Baking is my magic.

I love the trust and faith we must have in a recipe, in the ratio and in the ingredients. We trust that those ingredients will interact, react and transform into something so beautifully delicious.

Having just whispered all those sweet words of nothing, I’ll admit I’m not really a cake-maker-type girl. I’m not sure if a single layered-cake even lives on this blog. I’m pretty sure it has everything to do with me being an impatient person and thinking cake decorating is a little tedious. But when I want cake inspo, I turn to Sara from Matchbox Kitchen. She makes some insanely pretty cakes. One thing I LOVE about her cakes is how they’re all perfectly cylinder. The tops are completely flat. Flat cake tops are all the rage in the cake world.

Cake layers usually dome on us, rising right in the center and then cracking. I think doming on a quick bread is beautiful. I love it. My friend and baker, Hourie, wouldn’t think to serve a quick bread that didn’t dome. Cakes are different, though. But not to worry because baking flat cake layers couldn’t be easier!

How To Bake A Flat Cake

Just like my last how-to, I’m a little insecure about this post. Do you know this already? Is this obvious?

You could take a serrated knife or this cake slicer thing (that looks like a gigantic cheese slicer) and lop off the top of the cake. I’ve done this before. But sort of annoying.

OR you could buy these even baking strips that go around your cake pans. But sort of a waste of money, especially since this method uses an old towel and a few safety pins.

To start, you want to cut strips that fit the sides of your cake pan.

Fun side note: Use an old CLEAN towel, not an old dirty towel. I almost ended up using one that I used to clean the bathroom with. I can’t imagine cleaning solutions on towel strips and in the oven with your cake is a good combo.

How To Bake A Flat Cake

Next, you want to dampen the towel strips and wring out any excess water.

Wrap them around the cake pans and secure them tightly with a few safety pins.

How To Bake A Flat Cake

Repeat that whole process with the second cake pan.

Oh and be sure to butter your cake pans, line the bottoms with a round of parchment and dust them with flour. So important.

How To Bake A Flat Cake

Add the cake batter to the pans and smack them down on the counter a few times. This will eliminate any air bubbles.

Put it in the oven and bake away.

How To Bake A Flat Cake

What’s happening here is that the moisture from towel is helping the cake bake more evenly, resulting in an even rise and a cake with a flat top.

When they come out, they’ll be perfectly flat. Ta-daaaaa!!

{ 166 comments… read them below or add one }

Laurie September 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I’m so excited to try this!!!!


hueydude September 26, 2014 at 7:10 am

Happily, this technique works as advertised. All these years, all that wasted cake! These baking strips have been around forever. I guess i wasn’t paying attention.

BtW….I found it necessary to rotate my pans midway to cook evenly. Or it could be my old oven…


Kelsea Knight September 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Thank you so much! It actually worked


Michelle October 2, 2014 at 7:50 am

Thank you so much, it worked! I didn’t have any spare towels, so I tore a strip of fabric and folded it a couple of times.


Cheryl October 3, 2014 at 2:48 am

Thank you so much for the towel tip, I makes loadsa cakes ,wish I’d known about it before.


Jenny October 10, 2014 at 9:43 am

Thank you so much for sharing. My cakes are finally perfect. Give yourself some credit, I’m sure you make wonderful cakes. Bake away girlfriend.


Ashley October 11, 2014 at 12:16 am

Would this work with a square glass pan? I’m in a bit of a hurry and don’t have any metal pans to work with at the moment..


Adrianna Adarme October 11, 2014 at 9:43 am

I’m not completely sure. But my instinct is that the towel won’t be able to go through the glass. I highly doubt it’ll work with glass.


Megan October 15, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Do you think this would work with springform pans?


Adrianna Adarme October 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Umm…yes I do think it’ll work. It should!


Adele K. Raines November 2, 2014 at 9:20 am

I am in the process of making my own strips. Fortunately I had a large piece of material from a project I did many years ago. So I am making a set of three. (a just in case extra one)

Every site gives you the width and height of the cake pan. No one gives the circumference of the cake pans. So in making my own strips, I also need the circumference for both the 9″ and 8″ pans. Anyone know off the top of your head. Math is not my best subject. In fact not my subject at all.


Jason November 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm

You just take the size of the pan (which is the diameter) and multiply by 3.2 (for the math inclined, that’s pi, rounded up to take into account the thickness of the pan material itsself).

In your case, they’d be 28.8″ and 25.5″ respectively.


priya November 4, 2014 at 8:17 am

Hi wats the measurements of your cake pan. i didnt even get a flat top with my non stick one..tried a lot. Thinking of buying a new one.please do reply


Adrianna Adarme November 4, 2014 at 8:59 am

Mine was a 9-inch cake pan – but the size shouldn’t really matter.


priya November 4, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Thank you. Is that a 20 x 9inch pan?


Joy November 15, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Mysterious blogger lady, if this works I’ll live you forever. Seriously.


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