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!!

{ 236 comments… read them below or add one }

Belinda @themoonblushbaker May 2, 2013 at 12:41 am

Ah!! this is the best trick I have seen for baking flat layer cakes. I often try not to over mix the batter or cream the butter and sugar too much; I find that makes them crack on the top.
Totally pinned.

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thecitygourmand May 2, 2013 at 12:54 am

Wow, nice tip – hadn’t heard of that before!

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foodnerd4life May 2, 2013 at 1:18 am

Wow, never heard of this before! What a great tip! I’m making my bothers wedding cake so this is really going to help! Thanks

FoodNerd x

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Averie @ Averie Cooks May 2, 2013 at 1:56 am

They’re like fuzzy legwarmers for your cake pans. LOVE IT :)

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Adrianna Adarme May 2, 2013 at 11:34 pm

Like the ones that Hooters girls wear!

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sarah July 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

This worked GREAT!!!!

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Adrianna Adarme July 13, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Awesome!

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Hannah @ All-Purpose and Semi-Sweet May 2, 2013 at 4:03 am

What a great idea!

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Sahar May 2, 2013 at 4:18 am

What a great tip! I always struggle with getting my layer cakes even and slicing the domed top off doesnt work for me. I’m baking my mom’s birthday cake next week and i”m definitely tryng this!

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Mrs. Ruth May 4, 2013 at 5:38 am

that’s a waste. for a flat top two layer cake, it’s much easier to put the the tops together..for one layer, just turn it over…

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Franne May 6, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Actually, it’s better than turning them over with the domed sides together. When you do that the sides don’t meet evenly and you have uneven distribution of icing between layers. This is a great tip. I mean, how hard is it to rip up an old towel and pin it around the cake tin???

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Frankie December 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Agree with you Franne, I can’t see anything wasteful about this at all Mrs. Ruth???

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Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe May 2, 2013 at 4:27 am

Oh my gosh, thanks so much for this helpful post! I was sooo in need of it!
I’ll be trying out all your smart tips for sure!

xo, Elisa

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Sarah May 2, 2013 at 5:08 am

That is a really great idea! And so easy too!

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Tieghan May 2, 2013 at 5:42 am

LOVE IT!! Such a cool trick!

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Tina May 2, 2013 at 6:08 am

Dude ur so genius! I’m so envious of ur baking skills!

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Danielle May 2, 2013 at 6:25 am

Amazing! How clever. I certainly have plenty of old towels, but I’m glad you said not to use one that you’ve cleaned the bathroom with! That totally would have been me :) Thanks for the tip.

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Marie @ Little Kitchie May 2, 2013 at 7:45 am

Great tip!!! Need this more than you know!

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Stacey May 2, 2013 at 7:50 am

MAGIC. I’d never seen or heard this before, and I’m terrible at using a serrated knife to even out cake tops. I do love eating all of the cake top scraps, though!

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Megan May 2, 2013 at 8:22 am

I love this! I don’t have exceptional slicing skills and am always nervous I’ll cut the layers all wonky-like. Now I just need to get some safety pins! Love this. Thank you!

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NicoleD May 2, 2013 at 8:37 am

I love that you used an old (clean) towel and safety pins! I don’t think I could bring myself to buy those special cake wraps. Baking is magic for sure!

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Adrianna Adarme May 2, 2013 at 11:35 pm

No way! Waste of money. :)

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Jessica January 3, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Actually I saw the cake wraps at walmart today for under $4…so when ya think of it it’s less than a towel. Perhaps the ones that are under $4 don’t work so well though…I’ve never tried it. I unfortunately have cleaned out all my old towels and have given them to my hubby for rags….so where they went there’s no coming back lol!! I do think it’s an awesome idea though!!!!

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Francesca May 2, 2013 at 8:52 am

Genius, Adrianna! I would never buy a cake wrap either, but I would totally sacrifice a towel to make my cakes look more like cakes, and less like teepees.
Thanks!!

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Karla @ Foodologie May 2, 2013 at 9:01 am

Genius! I used to get super uneven cakes, I thought my oven was broken or something, but then I got new (aluminum) cake pans and now I get even cakes. Mine are domes when I take them out of the oven, but the flatten by the time they cool.

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RLT May 2, 2013 at 9:44 am

Our famous cake baker here also says if using a box mix, lower the heat to 320 or 325 for 20 minutes then finish off at a higher heat. Confession – I have the Wilton cake wraps and even wet, they are stiff and difficult to work with. This is a much better idea!

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Adrianna Adarme May 2, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Ooooo good to know about the cake wraps from Wilton. Yes, I’ve actually heard that people should be baking cakes at 325 degrees F. I’m going to try and decrease the next time I bake a cake to see if it’s even more even.

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Marga May 2, 2013 at 9:44 am

That’s a fantastic tip. I have always hated having to cut off the top bit to even it out. Thanks so much for posting this! Can’t wait to try it!

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mary May 2, 2013 at 9:46 am

Thanks so much for this tip. I could never figure out how to make the cake tops even out.

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Kasha the FarmGirl May 2, 2013 at 10:06 am

Love it!

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Aimee St.Germain (Cooking the Strip) May 2, 2013 at 10:12 am

Fantastic tip! I’ll be sure to try this!

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Carmen Mendoza May 2, 2013 at 10:58 am

Seriously the best idea ever, can’t wait to try it.
Thank you

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Tracy | Peanut Butter and Onion May 2, 2013 at 11:14 am

You are a genius !!!! I didn’t even think this was possible

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Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet May 2, 2013 at 11:24 am

LOVE this! I have tired this idea few times and totally agree – genius!

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Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie May 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Awesome!

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helen Davis May 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm

My mother told me trick about 30 years ago. Works every time! She use to bake wedding cakes.

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Leisa May 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I’ve never seen this before, but wow–what a great idea! Thank you for the inspiration! :-)

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Jen @ Fresh from the... May 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Whoa… I think you just blew my mind a little. I had no idea you could do this sort of thing to get flat layers. Though I am like you, and I rarely make cakes, let alone layer cakes!

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Rosemarie mullin May 2, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Love this post – more of similar ilk please.

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Leanna R May 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm

have used this method..like it. Also use this method..really moist cake
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QbLeNMz6MA
watch it. Amazing and it works….

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Adrianna Adarme May 2, 2013 at 11:40 pm

Very interesting. I’m going to try this next time.

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Belinda May 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

Amazing. Could have used this trick last weekend when I made my friends birthday cake. It ended up being a bit wonky and packed with frosting but it all comes down to taste right? Right….?

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Adrianna Adarme May 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm

RIGHT!

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Eileen May 2, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Awesome tip! I have always wondered how to get my cakes flat topped and you have just answered my age old question. I’m baking a birthday cake this weekend so I’m going to give it a whirl. Thanks!

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beth May 2, 2013 at 5:38 pm

this is an amazing trick! I can’t wait to try it. slicing off the domed tops of my cakes with a huge serrated knife has always felt super tedious so this will be great if it works.

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Sara/Matchbox Kitchen May 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm

So kind of you to mention me! Totally made my day :) Would love to make a cake with you sometime!

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Adrianna Adarme May 2, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Let’s have a baking day. Weeeee!

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Taryn May 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm

This is the second time I’ve seen this tip recently. It kind of makes me wonder if you could achieve the same effect by baking your cake layers in a water bath.

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Adrianna Adarme May 2, 2013 at 11:39 pm

So I was so intrigued by this idea that I went digging on the inter webs just now to see if someone had success with this. Turns out on the Wilton blog, under the subject of baking strips, someone mentioned this same thing! The baker over at Wilton tried it and didn’t’ have any luck. The steam from the water resulted in a very wet cake. Here’s the link:

http://www.wilton.com/blog/index.php/get-more-cake-out-of-your-cake/

But, still an interesting idea.

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Taryn May 3, 2013 at 2:44 am

haha, thanks for doing the legwork for me…guess I’ll have to sacrifice a towel next time I make a layer cake, though it’s not something I bake that often.

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crystal January 20, 2014 at 7:23 am

You would typically use a water bath for moist cakes like custards and cheesecakes they help to reduce cracking

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Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) May 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I’ve seen those cake strips before at Sur La Table, but I figured they made the cake more moist–didn’t realize they actually help create a nice flat top. Wow! Very cool.

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Taryn May 2, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Also, totally off topic, but have you seen this?! How much fun would Amelia have?http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/this-is-what-it-happens-when-140-corgis-have-a-beach-party

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Adrianna Adarme May 2, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Dude, I wanted to go. It was my bad for not going. There’s another one in June and I want to go so badly!

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Jayne May 2, 2013 at 10:04 pm

This is a really really great tip! I’ve always been frustrated with domed cake cracking. I have to try this for my little nephew’s 1st bday cake.

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aoife @ the gannet May 3, 2013 at 2:33 am

SOOO didn’t know this – hurray!! x

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Tia S. May 3, 2013 at 6:58 am

Whaaa? No way. I guess now I will just have to go bake a cake to uh, make sure it works… 😉 Thanks for the brilliant tip!

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Rebecca May 3, 2013 at 11:53 am

Love the idea 😀 I always use aluminium foil 😉 But I will also give this idea a try, see which one will work better 😀

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Gina May 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I’m going to try this for sure. I have to bake a baby shower cake for next saturday and she wants the whole tiered thing (yes, I’m aware I’m crazing for volunteering) I just didn’t want to have to spend too much time trying to get the darn thing level. Thanks.
-Gina-

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Mrs. Ruth May 4, 2013 at 5:39 am

or a flat top two layer cake, it’s much easier to put the the tops together..for one layer, just turn it over…

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Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen May 14, 2013 at 9:12 am

Thanks for the tip! It’s been a while since I bake a layer cake, but I get tons of satisfaction when it turns out the way I picture.

Even better that this is a cheap/free method :)

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Melissa May 17, 2013 at 5:38 am

I absolutely hate the strips that they sell so what I do is use tin foil strips. Even then they aren’t completely flat. I am definitely going to have to try this.

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Zayleigh July 5, 2013 at 12:35 am

Thanks for these tips for baking cake. This made me easy for me. Keep posting.

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Nancy August 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm

I really love this idea! I’ve tried it once before and it worked great, the only problem I found was that my cake turned out too wet and sticky even though it was thoroughly cooked. Any idea why that may have happened or what I could do next time so it won’t happen again?
Thanks xx

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Brandee September 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm

Super great trick! I just tried this moist towel trick on my pans and it worked. Of course one came out perfectly flat and the other close enough. My only problem was the lingering comment made by my fiancé as I popped my cake layers in the oven. “Ya know those are probably gonna catch on fire.” Well, I stayed in the kitchen on fire patrol and he was right. They were close as the towels began to take on a tan like my layers of cake. I shot them with a little water from the cat squirt bottle and they were ok. Next time I will use more damp towels. I can’t wait to frost! Thank You!

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C.G. September 19, 2013 at 12:35 am

I saw comments on other sites about the cake not cooking all the way through with this particular method. Does anyone know if you have to change the bake times?

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katy abrams October 22, 2013 at 8:05 am

Does this work for gluten free cakes too?

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Adrianna Adarme October 22, 2013 at 8:11 am

It sjouke!

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Adrianna Adarme October 22, 2013 at 8:11 am

It should!

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Maria October 22, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Thanks for this post! does it work for square and rectangle cake tins too?

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Adrianna Adarme October 22, 2013 at 1:41 pm

I’ve never tried this with a square cake pan, but I can’t see it not working.

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Claudia P October 29, 2013 at 7:42 pm

I’m at this very moment (!!) baking a cake in a 9×13 glass pan using the wet towels, and it’s taking much longer than the suggested cook time for this recipe (which was 30 mins max, and I’m at 40 as we speak). Perhaps I’ll try to get in there and take the towels off? I have to sleep at some point tonight…

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Adrianna Adarme October 29, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Hmm…it shouldn’t slow down the cake by that much. It just should bake it evenly. How’d it go?

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Claudia P October 30, 2013 at 6:52 am

Thanks for asking! It was a bust: crusty on the top and sides, wet in the center. Guess this doesn’t work with 9x13s? Live and learn!

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Jeanette S December 5, 2013 at 4:48 am

Instead of an old towel, I thought of using a terry cloth sweatband – the ones that you use around your forehead. It stretches, so it should wrap around the cake pans easily.

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Adrianna Adarme December 5, 2013 at 7:31 am

Oh I bet that’d work great!

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Isa March 17, 2014 at 11:52 pm

Did it work well? I would think that the rubber from the stretch might melt onto the pan or break down at some point?

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Karen December 9, 2013 at 2:57 am

Does this idea work on rectangle pans and cakes? Thanks for the tip!

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Adrianna Adarme December 9, 2013 at 7:46 am

I haven’t tried it but it should!

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Michelle December 27, 2013 at 5:39 am

This is an amazing tip. I made my grandma’s 3-layer chocolate cake yesterday and thanks to these strips of towels, my layers came out perfectly flat and uniform. Thank you for sharing!!

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Adrianna Adarme December 27, 2013 at 11:19 am

Isn’t it magical! So glad it worked for you! Happy Holidays.

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Bec December 27, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I just tried this trick on 2 chocolate mid cakes that I intend to stack. It worked perfectly!! Thanks for the tip :)

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Adrianna Adarme December 27, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Welcome! Weeee!

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Emily December 31, 2013 at 2:21 pm

I wan yo try this but I’m scared that the towels may catch on fire. Any tips?

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alexis March 31, 2014 at 2:08 pm

When you dampen the towels it should not catch on fire but mabye if you don’t it might

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Linda January 1, 2014 at 10:37 pm

I can’t wait to try this!! Thanks so much for the great tip!! I’m baking my son’s wedding cake and have been trying so many recipes and obviously been unsuccessful….. I am quite excited to try this….. I will keep you all posted on the outcome of my attempt!

thanks so much once again!!!

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Shaily January 12, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Hey Adrianna! I was wondering, is there any chance that the towel strips might, like, catch on fire and/or get burnt, since the baking happens at really high temperatures?

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Adrianna Adarme January 12, 2014 at 4:19 pm

Mine didn’t burn or catch fire. I was baking at 325 degrees F. If your recipe is calling for over 350 F, which it shouldn’t if it’s a cake, then I’d advise to perhaps skip this.

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Harlyn January 14, 2014 at 12:45 pm

I did this, but I also inverted a flower nail, and lowered the temp to 300 F, and baked for 35-40 min… perfect cakes!

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Adrianna Adarme January 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm

That’s great! So happy it worked for you. What’s a flower nail?!

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Harlyn January 14, 2014 at 3:54 pm

the thing you use to pipe icing roses on and then transfer them to a cake… http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?sku=pg_flowernails

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Andrea September 18, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Does the flower nail help the middle cook better? I’ve used the aluminum cones but don’t like the hole it leaves.

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Liz January 31, 2014 at 2:46 am

I totally just tried this and it worked a charm! Thanks so much for the tip!

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Adrianna Adarme January 31, 2014 at 11:23 am

Oh yayyy!!

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nom February 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

OH my gosh!!!! It works, it totally works. I’m feeling really clever at your expense. The cakes were flat, uniform, and rose right to the top of the tin but flat as a pancake, perfectomondo. So cool! My cakes never EVER do that. Im practicing for a nieces 21st cake and wow layers layers layers babee, here I come. Thanks so much xox

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Adrianna Adarme February 6, 2014 at 9:56 am

Haha! It’s baking magic. So glad it worked for you!

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suzanne February 9, 2014 at 7:31 am

Hi
Excellent idea although I wanted to know if you’d cook both tins at the same time and if you have a cake batter recipe. Thanks

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Adrianna Adarme February 9, 2014 at 11:49 am

Yes, I baked both cake pans together and it worked out great.

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Christopher Johns February 20, 2014 at 8:01 am

Small currant & sultana cup cakes – how would you stop these from doming?
I would like the mixture to spread and form a lip around the cakes rather than rising at the centre. Any suggestions?

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Melissa March 2, 2014 at 1:34 am

Hi, um yeah so like u said previously that you could just cut of the top does that really work? Cuz i am trying to bake my cake in a foil tray that is a rectangle so.uh, yeah!

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Melissa March 2, 2014 at 1:34 am

Hi, um yeah so like u said previously that you could just cut of the top does that really work? Cuz i am trying to bake my cake in a foil tray that is a rectangle so.uh, yeah!

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Max March 18, 2014 at 10:34 am

The walls of my cake pan are not on 90* degree angle, their curve out to make it easier to remove the cake, when the cake is done baking, it is not even touching the outer wall, will this trick work for me

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jennifer March 20, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Oh my gosh, thanks so much. Domed cake layers have been the bane of my baking existence. I always have to slice them down and it’s a mess. Tried this and it worked like a charm! Only trouble was I had a hard time getting the towels tight enough to stay around the pans with the safety pins, but I just handled them carefully and it all worked out. The parchment paper in the bottom of the pan is also great. :)

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Jean March 23, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Well tomorrow I am making a chocolate cake which is yummy but very runny recipe, it is a test run for my husbands 60th birthday cake which I have to make the next day. I will let you know how it goes as I am concerned because of the runny nature of the mixture, I have always wanted to make a nice even cake which hopefully when this works it will make it easier for my daughter to decorate and I can show off to the 20 family members coming out for dinner with us

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Adrianna Adarme March 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Oh I hope this works! I’m glad you’re doing a test run. Smart lady, you! Good luck.

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Briana April 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm

This worked so well! I must admit, I had my hesitations, but as I watched it baked, I got more and more excited. So nice not having to cut off so much for those layer cakes. I did have to keep my cake in about 5 minutes longer than usual though. Thanks so much for the tip!

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sandra April 8, 2014 at 3:24 am

Cant wait to give this a go. Im making a 10 tier carrot cake for my sons wedding so of course need a good flat surface to ‘stack’ them. He got the idea from the ‘naked wedding cake’ site

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Adrianna Adarme April 8, 2014 at 9:12 am

10 tier! Holy moly! Yes, I love naked cakes. This should work great for that cake. Good luck! :)

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sandra April 11, 2014 at 2:37 am

Im wrapped !! i have perfect flat cake tops.How simple. Clever you to work that out. Probably wont ever bake a cake without the ‘tin wrap’ again.Thank you.

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susan hamilton April 8, 2014 at 8:26 am

Hi, can you please help. I am making a Wedding cake for my Daughter in June. She would like just one tall cake so I am going to make 3 cakes & stack on top as they are fruit cakes & marzipan & ice as one tall cake. Problem is when the cake is getting cut. Do I marzipan & ice ‘only the top’ of the bottom two cakes so as when the cake is cut we can slice across the middle of each individual cake & cut as single cakes? what would you suggest? Kind regards. Susan.

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Adrianna Adarme April 8, 2014 at 9:18 am

Ohhh…I see what you’re saying. Hmmm…that’s a tough one. I think your plan should work fine. But I’d recommend maybe incorporating the marzipan into the icing just so you have less to worry about. I fear that if there’s too much stuff in between the layers that it’ll make it really hard and messy to slice it the way you’re talking about.

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Theresa April 20, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Found this GENIUS solution on Google search. Wonderful and thank you so much for sharing. I just used a box cake mix, and was pleasantly surprised that it worked for me!!

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Manny April 21, 2014 at 9:22 am

Hi! I don’t really know why this didn’t work for me. I used two separate batches of cake mix to bake this, and put them into 2 separate 9 inch spring form pans, then wrapped the damp towels around as shown. currently its been about 15 minutes extra than what the box suggested should be the time for the cakes, and the inside is still wet, and they’re not really flat either. Maybe my towel weren’t damp enough or something, because it was flat at first and then it started to dome. But thank you for the tip anyways!

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therese May 1, 2014 at 5:50 am

Hi, I’ve just baked my first flourless chocolate cake in my favourite silicon mold. Though it tasted divine, it first domed, then cracked, then while cooling sunk. Not pretty. Will this wet towel method work for silicon molds?
Also, my silicon mold has some sort of ‘legs’ extending outwards from the sides of the pan (I guess the product designer wanted to make it more stabilized and not be too wobbly), meaning the wet towel may not be completely touching the pan, any ideas?

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Adrianna Adarme May 1, 2014 at 7:49 am

Hmm…good question. I highly doubt towels would be able to penetrate silicon. I think you may have to just slice off the top of the cake with a serrated knife. Sorry about that!

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tessa May 8, 2014 at 7:59 pm

this worked amazing! Thank you for the tip!

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Adrianna Adarme May 8, 2014 at 8:06 pm

YAY!

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Emily May 13, 2014 at 6:00 pm

This worked beautifully on a 13x9x2″ metal pan (nonstick, greased and floured). I baked at 350 degrees. The baking time was normal for this recipe (King Arthur Flour favorite fudge birthday cake). In response to other commenters’ questions: Cotton does not ignite until it gets over 400 degrees, so normal baking temperatures for cakes should be fine even if the towel dries out.

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Yetty May 21, 2014 at 11:30 pm

does this method also work for steaming cake?
When you say lay the
line the bottoms with a round of parchment and dust them with flour. So important.
so means lay the paper first then only dust them with flour?
Or we dust the flour on the paper before we lay them on the bottom?

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Julie Quinn May 31, 2014 at 6:20 pm

This is AWESOME! Just made an 11×15 cake with 2 box mixes for my daughter’s bday cake it an looks incredible. So even and beautiful. Thank you! Thank You!! THANK YOU!!!! So glad I googled how to bake a flat cake and found you!

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Eileen June 15, 2014 at 3:19 am

I can’t decide from the notes whether the towel strips will work for a 12X18 size pan? And should I use flower nails?

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Tammy July 29, 2014 at 3:30 pm

The strips will work on any size or shape pan. No need to use both the flower nail and strips. I took cake classes and we were taught to use the wet strips

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Rebeca June 18, 2014 at 12:14 am

Does it make a difference if the cake is gluten free? I just tried it with a gluten free cake mix and I followed the instructions on the box and it didn’t make a bit of difference, the cake still domed, in fact its the worst dome i’ve ever seen (not sure if its because its a gluten free cake).

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Adrianna Adarme June 19, 2014 at 8:49 am

It might. When cakes dome it usually has to do with the structure of the cake. Cakes with higher protein amounts will dome more than ones with lower protein amounts, i.e, cakes made with cake flour or pastry flour. So this could’ve been the problem. I’m not sure what kind of flours are used in your gluten-free cake mix so it’s tough for me to know.

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shareen July 15, 2014 at 3:32 am

HI

I tried this method last niight the cake shape was great but it took forever took and i used a flower nail as well but the centre was still wet. I cooked a 8 inch 3mm high cake should it take longer to bake.. How long would you bake an 8 inch 3 mm cake in gas oven. i have it at gas mark 4 for 70 mins but it was takinga lot longer if i kept it in the oven it would of burnt at the top….the bottom as done but a bit damp..

Any tips

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Steve Roudebush July 18, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Just wanted to say that this works great! As an extra tip – I didn’t have any old towels large enough. However, I did have some old pairs of boxers with a stretchy wasteband. I simple cut off the wasteband with about an extra half-inch of cloth and used this to out around the rim of the baking pans. Thanks again!

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Sandy July 22, 2014 at 8:11 am

Do you know if this tip should work with stoneware pans? I have a set of Temptations bakers that I was planning to use to bake my daughters birthday cake with!!

http://www.qvc.com/As-Is-Temp-tations-13-Pc-Floral-Lace-Round-Baker-Set.product.K294143.html?sc=K294143-SRCH&cm_sp=VIEWPOSITION-_-1-_-K294143&catentryImage=http://images.qvc.com/is/image/k/43/k294143.001?$uslarge$

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Adrianna Adarme July 22, 2014 at 10:34 am

I doubt it. Ceramic is pretty hard to penetrate. I’ve actually never baked a cake in anything ceramic so it’s tough to know. Sorry I can’t be more help!

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Kathy G July 28, 2014 at 9:19 am

I don’t normally make comments on blogs, but I have to say THANK YOU!!! I have a carrot cake recipe that always domes in the middle. I end up with a much smaller cake after I slice the dome off of each layer, then trying to get icing on without crumbs is a challenge. I tried your method Friday night on my carrot cake baked in 3 Wilton 9 inch baking pans and it worked beautifully. The layers were perfectly level and evenly baked. What a breeze to finish it up with no fighting the crumbs in my white cream cheese icing!! The only thing I would say is be careful when you open the oven to check the cake–there was a massive cloud of steam from mine. I extended the baking time about 4 minutes, and it was beautiful and delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this great tip!!

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Adrianna Adarme July 28, 2014 at 11:26 am

Oh that’s amazing! So glad it worked out for you. And thank you for the feedback re: the steam and needing to bake it a tad bit longer—super helpful!

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Katrina Nolan July 30, 2014 at 12:46 pm

I am right in the middle of making cakes for a birthday party this weekend and out of parchment paper. All I have is wax. I dont suppose it would work the same?

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Adrianna Adarme July 30, 2014 at 12:50 pm

It really depends what temperature you’re baking your cake at. Most call for 325 or 350 degrees F. If it’s at those temperatures, you should be fine. Wax paper is an ok substitute for parchment UNLESS you’re baking at a super high temperature.

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Katrina Nolan July 30, 2014 at 12:57 pm

awesome i will try it then! thank you :) and yes it calls for 350

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Amy August 6, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Thank you for this awesome tip!
I’ve just used this method on a 12in square cake and it’s come out perfect!
So happy!
You’re a lifesaver! :):):) x

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Adrianna Adarme August 6, 2014 at 5:03 pm

YAY! So good to know that it can be used with that large of square pans. :)

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taryn August 13, 2014 at 3:31 am

this might sound like a stupid question but does this work for gas ovens as well??

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Adrianna Adarme August 13, 2014 at 9:58 am

Yes it does.

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Lyanne August 18, 2014 at 12:29 am

Will this work on silicone? I’ve done this before on normal cake tins, but now that I have my own kitchen all my baking is silicone

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Adrianna Adarme August 18, 2014 at 5:30 pm

I’m actually not sure if it’ll work with silicone. Sorry about that!

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Sammar Mohy eldin August 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Thats really amazing and helpful an gonna try it for a sheet cake 33cm×32×5cm pan..will it work properly..and what would be the perfect chocolate cake recipe for that sized cake…
thanks in advance

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Michaela of By Michaela Cakes & Cupcakes August 19, 2014 at 12:28 am

This is fab. Baked 2 layers each of 6, 8 & 10 last night and minimal off cuts. Amazing! Thank you for sharing this x

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Anu August 24, 2014 at 11:11 am

Hi Adrianna!
Wonderful tip. Im going to bake a cake in 2 days but in a microwavable glass bowl (on microwave, not convection mode). Will this method work? Do you have any eggless cake recipe?

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Joy August 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm

I have a cake order to fill this week. I can’t wait to try this!

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Savannah Davitt August 30, 2014 at 9:52 pm

Hi!!! Sadly, I just finished baking my cake for tomorrow and it already domed so for this time Im screwed.BUT thanks for the awesome tips!!! I baked my cake in a springform pan I just recieved and it turned out awesome except for the dome. Do you know if this trick will work for springform pans as well?

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Neferi August 31, 2014 at 2:51 pm

This was the first result on a Google search of “How to bake flat cakes”, and I am so happy I came across it! I’ve always been so frustrated with my non-flat birthday cakes, and cutting the top was always messier than I wanted.

I was really skeptical at first, but this worked great for me! I had a few bubbles, which probably means I didn’t tap the cake for long enough, so I’ll make sure to do that next time, but I highly recommend this method for baking cakes.

A number of people mentioned it taking longer to cook. I used a box mix in a 9″ circular pan, cooked for the minimum time recommended, and the cakes were just right. So it didn’t seem to change the time to cook at all.

The towels themselves appear to have survived perfectly, so I think I can reuse them some other time (and I plan to!). I wasn’t sure what to expect lol.

Thank you so much for posting!

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Deb September 4, 2014 at 1:20 am

This also works with cheesecakes. No water leaks from springform!

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Lauren September 4, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Thanks! I did it with a round silicone pan and it worked great!

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Adrianna Adarme September 5, 2014 at 10:21 am

Oh awesome!

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Christina September 9, 2014 at 8:34 am

This was one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it things” … and now I’m a believer. It truly works like a charm. Thanks so very much for sharing!

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Dorien September 14, 2014 at 8:06 am

I tried this yesterday for a four layer chequerboard and it worked amazingly well. All layers matched and no need to cut them flat for icing etc. brilliant idea. Many thanks

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Laurie September 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm

I’m so excited to try this!!!!

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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…

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Kelsea Knight September 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm

Thank you so much! It actually worked

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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..

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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.

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Megan October 15, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Do you think this would work with springform pans?

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Adrianna Adarme October 16, 2014 at 2:59 pm

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

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Laura May 29, 2015 at 6:37 pm

I love this idea, did it today with my spring form pans and I didn’t have to cut a bump off the top. Thank you

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Adrianna Adarme May 31, 2015 at 4:01 pm

Whoa! That’s cool, had no idea it’d work with a spring form. Good to know. Thanks for reporting back!

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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.

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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.

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Jane March 19, 2015 at 12:46 pm

I thought the circumference of a circle is Pi R2 Which is Pi X the RADIUS (which is half of the diameter) squared.

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TexasBaker March 20, 2015 at 11:50 am

Jane,
You have the formula for the AREA of the circle. The circumference the distance around the circle (or perimeter). Jason’s formula is what you need.

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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
Ardra

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Adrianna Adarme November 4, 2014 at 8:59 am

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

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priya November 4, 2014 at 3:52 pm

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

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Joy November 15, 2014 at 12:06 pm

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

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Lydia Blais December 27, 2014 at 11:37 pm

Hi…I almost never bake..and I have heard of the towel trick although I have never done it..what I am wondering is in which order you butter, flour and put in the paper? I have never heard of putting the paper in the pan before…can’t imagine putting butter under the paper…or over the paper…and how would the flour stick to the bottom if the butter is under the paper? Confused…lol

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Adrianna Adarme December 28, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Hi Lydia, Here’s the order I grease my cake pans:

1. Rub softened butter all over the insides of the cake pan.
2. Cut rounds of parchment paper and fit them on the bottom of the pans (over the butter).
3. Dust the pans with about a tablespoon of flour and discard any leftover. (Not all recipes call for the flour addition. Check the recipe you’re using.)

Hope that helps!

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TexasBaker March 20, 2015 at 11:52 am

So I tried this once… sort of… I used non-stick pans and did NOT butter. That was a bad idea… The parchment slipped around too much when I poured the batter. I totally see the point of the butter now. I will try this again… with butter!

Thanks!!!

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Anjana December 29, 2014 at 4:59 am

Hy dear…i’m using a non stick cake pan ..is it necessary to spread the butter and flour inside the cake pan..??

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Adrianna Adarme December 30, 2014 at 9:04 pm

It depends more on your recipe. Is it a sticky cake batter? The recipe should tell you!

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Jason Sutton January 5, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Sounds intriguing. Would sweat bands work as well and be easier to fit?

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Adrianna Adarme January 6, 2015 at 9:37 am

Maybe? I’m honestly not sure. I feel like they might not be wide enough. But it could work!

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M Schmidt March 27, 2015 at 4:25 am

A sweat band has elastic in it. The rubber would probably melt and start making the kitchen and oven smell of burned rubber which could cause an off flavor in the cake.

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JJ January 9, 2015 at 7:33 am

It works for me, but the cake seems required longer baking time.

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crunchy mumma January 13, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Thanks for this, it worked a treat even when i didn’t tap the air out as I was cooking a sponge

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Jackie January 14, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Tried and failed!
Any tips?

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Ladyyybuggg January 27, 2015 at 8:32 pm

Would this work with rectangular pans as well?

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Adrianna Adarme January 29, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Sure! It should. Some people above in the comments had success with rectangular pans.

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MzRizz February 2, 2015 at 4:49 pm

What is the purpose of lining the pans with parchment paper? All of the recipes I’ve used just call for “oiling and flouring” the pans, which has always worked. Is it just to keep the cake from sticking to the pans or does it have something to do with the cakes rising? My cakes don’t stick, so I was just wondering if I should start using the paper or just stick to oiling and flouring. Thanks!!

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Adrianna Adarme February 2, 2015 at 7:45 pm

If you’re ok then don’t add that extra step–I always fear my cakes sticking so I take extra precautions. :)

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Fay Bradbury February 13, 2015 at 6:17 pm

Wonderful!! I have been baking for decades and did not know this little tip. Thanks for saving my cakes and sharing your ingenious tip

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Mila February 14, 2015 at 7:54 am

Baking an ombre layer cake today. This trick will definitely come in handy! Thank you!

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Matt February 15, 2015 at 1:18 am

Hello! Is the issue just low air moisture inside the oven, or is there a benefit to specifically wrapping the towel onto the pan? If it’s a moisture issue, couldn’t you just add a small pot or pan with water in it?

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Adrianna Adarme February 15, 2015 at 6:04 pm

Nope. It actually slows down the baking. Cakes usually bake from the outside inward. This makes it so the cake bakes evenly.

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Courtney February 15, 2015 at 2:28 pm

Does anyone know the recipe for this cake

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Hala March 4, 2015 at 11:58 pm

I had the change to use Wilton strips once.. to tell you the truth, i couldn’t see too much difference.
As for the towels, even after damping in water, sure there is no risk of burning them?

Thank you a lot for this tip.. have no idea it works with towels :)

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Adrianna Adarme March 5, 2015 at 9:32 am

If they’re damp, you should be good.

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Ariel Pingault March 5, 2015 at 8:15 am

So useful, can’t wait to give this a try! Thank you so much for sharing! This will save all of that risky carving with cakes in the future!

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Lily March 10, 2015 at 12:02 pm

I am so tired of seeing these highly sophisticated and decorative blog sites and websites where the owner states things like “I am not a great baker”, or “I am not an advanced cake baker”, or “I am not really a baker”, but then proceeds to provide a full page or 2 or 4 or intricate and calculative instructions equal to an architect’s drawing plans on how to bake cakes. Although the directions are nice to have, it is a bit of a turn off when people severely down-play their talents, and then parade a plethora of super advanced recipes with construction plans included!!!

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Adrianna Adarme March 10, 2015 at 12:06 pm

HAHA. There is nothing “advanced” about putting wet towels around cake pans. Anyone can do it. I definitely don’t downplay the fact that I understand the rules of baking; that I do know, but compared to a cake baker who bakes cakes every single day, I definitely don’t come close to being able to construct and decorate a cake like them. But I do write recipes for a living so I absolutely understand the rules of baking and have a very thorough understanding of what each ingredient does in a baking recipe. Never tried to downplay that.

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sandy May 15, 2015 at 8:17 am

Lily – if you don’t like it, don’t read it! Some people just look for anything to complain about! I enjoyed the tips and can’t wait to try it out!

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Yvonne March 10, 2015 at 1:04 pm

Hi Adriannna , I’m attempting to make a birthday cake for my granddaughter, my cake tin measures 20cm x9cm + 15×7.5cm is it ok to apply this method to both tins? also you mention shacking tins to let the air out, I was led to believe the air made them light and fluffy? Please help…from a total novice.

PS Please don’t let ‘Lily’ bother you.. you always get the ‘1’..if you know what I mean 😉

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Adrianna Adarme March 10, 2015 at 5:27 pm

Yes absolutely! This will work. And yes, the air does make them light and fluffy but the leavening will create little air pockets in the cake. In order for the cake to bake evenly and flat you want to make sure the batter is super even to start. Does this make sense?

And thanks for your sweet words! :)

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Yvonne March 21, 2015 at 11:11 am

Thank you for getting back to me Adrianna, ok here it goes, wish me luck! and your very welcome.

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Yvonne March 21, 2015 at 11:14 am

PS Yes total sense Thank you

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Mervet March 11, 2015 at 12:46 am

Hi there,

What setting would be the best to use in your oven to assist with this flat top?

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Adrianna Adarme March 11, 2015 at 10:54 am

You should follow your recipe exactly. Whatever temperature the oven is supposed to be set to is what you should use!

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David March 15, 2015 at 6:40 pm

I’m new to baking cakes and I love it! I’ve always been the grillmeister. Is there a trick to keep from having a thick/thin, or lopsided, cake? No matter how I situate my pans, one always comes out a little crooked.

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Adrianna Adarme March 16, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Hmm…I’m not sure I had that problem. I think making sure the batter is really even in the pan (before you bake it) might help!

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Jim March 21, 2015 at 2:36 am

Can you use moist paper towels ?

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Adrianna Adarme March 21, 2015 at 10:35 am

Nooooo! This is a fire waiting to happen.

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olaya April 6, 2015 at 5:24 am

In fact you CAN use moist paper towels by wrapping them with aluminium foil before placing them around the baking pan, just use a bigger piece of aluminium than the baking pan to make it fit tight. That’s what I used to do and it works perfect!! and don’t be alarmed if you see at the beginning it blows up a little because of the steam, that’s normal!!

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Sheri March 22, 2015 at 6:31 am

Hi Adrianna, any idea if it works for steamed cakes?

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Adrianna Adarme March 22, 2015 at 9:32 am

Oh I’ve never tried it with steamed cakes. Sorry I can’t give you more advice on those!

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Mandy March 30, 2015 at 2:48 am

Any idea on how to apply this or any other method for cup cakes? :)

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Adrianna Adarme March 30, 2015 at 11:06 am

Oooo…hmm…I have no idea, sorry. I would actually try and find a recipe that bakes flat-top cupcakes. They do exist!

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Janice April 3, 2015 at 6:38 am

Hi there
Greetings from rainy UK…
I would like know if this flat cake trick with the towel works with fruit cakes …ie..currants/ raisins etc. as in Christmas cake…or is it just for sponge batter?

Many thanks
Jan

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Adrianna Adarme April 3, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Hiii! Yes, it absolutely should. I wouldn’t see why it wouldn’t work with quick breads.

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Julia Gowing April 24, 2015 at 8:10 am

Hi,
OMG, I was a bit sceptical about this method but I have to say it worked a treat. I saw it once on the TV but didn’t take much notice and then I came across your blog and wow, I’m so pleased with the results. I used a 10″ springform tin with no lining which leaked a little but this didn’t stop it from getting a decent rise. Thank you for your great tips, you’re a star!!! x

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Adrianna Adarme April 24, 2015 at 10:09 am

YAYY! It always feels magical when this trick works.

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Eileen Robinson April 25, 2015 at 2:13 pm

Thanks! No, we did not all know how to do this already. Works like magic!
I baked three very thick layers (made from two full cake mixes) and probably should have used a thicker towel that held a bit more water. Near the end of the baking time the towels started to dry out I did get some doming and cracking, but it was really very minimal.

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Rachel June 12, 2015 at 12:08 pm

I was kind of afraid that putting fabric in my oven would start a fire, but this worked like a charm! Thanks for the great tip!

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Adrianna Adarme June 12, 2015 at 12:42 pm

Oh great!

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Michelle June 30, 2015 at 3:25 pm

I’m so excited to try this! Is the towel that you used relatively thin? If not is it possible to double the towel so it ends up being thicker, or does that ruin the cake?

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Adrianna Adarme June 30, 2015 at 8:28 pm

I use a bath towel so it’s pretty thick! I’m not sure if it will help to double up a thinner towel. Perhaps? I haven’t tried it. If you do, please report back with the results!

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Valerie July 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Hi! I tried to step one time, and my cake came out underbaked. Do you think this method affects the cook time of the cake also? Should I leave it in longer since the wrap is making the cake cook slower??…

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Adrianna Adarme July 7, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Hmm..it might. I would say definitely keep it in there until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

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janet July 11, 2015 at 5:27 am

Never seen this before, What a wonderful idea, I have always looked at the ones you buy and they are soooo expensive. I have always wrapped a bit of card round the tin but it doesn’t work.
Looking forward to trying that on my next cake!!!
Thank you!!

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Linda July 24, 2015 at 4:44 am

I’ve just baked a rectangular sponge and this method worked perfectly. It took an extra 5 minutes baking. I’ve not heard of it before and am very grateful for your tip. Thank you.

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Adrianna Adarme July 26, 2015 at 9:27 am

Wonderful.

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Pearl July 26, 2015 at 8:41 pm

Hi I wanted to comment about this cake http://annezca.blogspot.ca/2014/12/how-to-ice-buttercream-ruffle-cake.html
but did not feel like going through the process of registering.

Perfection! Your touch is so delicate. Amazing work. Thank you for showing it to your readers.

Pearl

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Donna August 4, 2015 at 9:38 pm

How does this work and does it work in a electric oven or gas.

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Adrianna Adarme August 5, 2015 at 7:10 pm

It works in either.

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Fran Wilson August 6, 2015 at 5:14 am

Will try this tip n pass it on to my daughter who bakes a lot n looses a lot of cake by cutting it off.

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Jeaniene Outley August 6, 2015 at 6:01 pm

This is just what I was looking for. Recently I make a DELICIOUS German Chocolate Cake…it looked awful (like a short leaning Tower of Pisa) but it smelled and tasted like perfection. I was tempted to just lop off the top of each layer to flatten them out but I did not want to waste that wonderfully moist chocolate cake. I am definitely going to try this with my next cake adventure. Thanks for the tip!!!

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Adrianna Adarme August 6, 2015 at 8:46 pm

Ahh this will solve this problem for you, for sure!

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Jenn August 7, 2015 at 4:21 pm

Wont the towel burn or set on fire?

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Adrianna Adarme August 8, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Nope because it’s wet.

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Manoeuva August 12, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Can I use a cloth and not specifically a towel?

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Adrianna Adarme August 12, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Hmm…you need something thick and porous, like a towel. A normal piece of cloth probably won’t work.

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Debbie August 22, 2015 at 8:02 am

Hi, I’m making a carrot cake for a woodland themed baby shower. I’m using an 11x15x2 inch sheet cake pan and will have two layers. Since I’m not a professional and have little cake baking experience, I practiced making one and I have the temperature and timing down. I used one flower nail in the center and it came out perfect except it still had that dreaded dome. While slicing the dome off, the wire on my slicer got snagged up on the carrots and raisins and ripped up the cake, it wasn’t very pretty. So anyway, finally to my questions.. (1) will this towel method work with a carrot cake since it’s more dense than a normal cake? (2) will this trick work on an 11x15x2 inch sheet pan? (3) If yes to the first two questions, will it effect the time and temperature? Thanks so much for your help!

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