No more trimming and leveling, and no fancy tools needed! Come learn how to easily bake flat, even cake layers every time.

How to Bake Flat Cake Layers from completelydelicious.com

Leveling cakes is super frustrating, right? First off, it’s hard to get it perfectly even without a fancy cake leveler tool, and secondly, you waste so much cake. I like snacking on trimmings as much as the next gal, but I like fuller, taller cakes more.

So how to I do it?

Measure your cake batter

Flat, even cake layers begin with equal amounts of batter in each cake pan. The best way to do that is with a digital scale. I have a piece of tape on the bottom of my mixing bowl with its weight (so I don’t have to remember it). So all I have to do is place the bowl full of cake batter onto my scale and do a little math:

(total weight of bowl & batter) – (weight of bowl) / (# of cake pans) = (how much batter for each pan)

Then I use the scale to pour that amount into each cake pan.

How to Bake Flat Cake Layers from completelydelicious.com

If you don’t have a kitchen scale, you should get one! Here’s what I use. You could also find the total volume of the cake batter and go from there, but that dirties more dishes and is less accurate.

Reduce the baking temperature

Baking at a lower temperature slows the spring in the leavening, which prevents a dome from forming on your cake. Most cakes bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit*. Reducing the temperature to 325 degrees is all you need to do to get a flat-topped cake.

Since you’ve lowered the oven temperature, your cake will now take a little longer to bake. Reducing oven temp by 25 degrees will require you to increase baking time by approximately 1/2. Here’s an example:

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min → Bake at 325 degrees for 30 min + 15 min = 45 minutes total

I usually take a quick peek once I’ve reached the original baking time and then every 5 minutes after that just to be sure I don’t over bake it, but the adjustment above is usually pretty accurate.

Once the center of the cake(s) is set and don’t jiggle when pans are lightly shaken, test for doneness by gently tapping the center. If it bounces back, it’s done. You can also insert a toothpick into the center, and if it comes out with just a few moist crumbs, your cake is done. Always remember that cakes are delicate, so minimize how often you open the oven door.

How to Bake Flat Cake Layers from completelydelicious.com

* Note: Unfortunately, I don’t know how to convert these instructions to Celsius. If you can shed any light on this, please leave a comment!

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48 Responses to How to Bake Flat Cake Layers

  1. This is so, so, soooo helpful….thank you!! Layer cake secretly kind of scare me for this exact reason (and a few others). Mastering layer cakes, or at least making one decent one is on my culinary bucket list for the year, and this has really given me the little kick I needed to get going with it :)

  2. Annalise,
    This is great info. Can’t wait to try it out. Pinned.
    Annamaria

  3. Margie says:

    Lowering the temperature, huh? Never thought about it. Will try this next time I bake a cake.

  4. Laura says:

    Great!!
    The conversion is this one:

    350ºF = 175ºC …so….. 325ºf=160-165ºC (aprox)

  5. Stephanie says:

    Oh, nice! I did not know this! Would this work for a 9×13 cake? I would assume so… Pinned.

    • Annalise says:

      Yes, it should still work, though I’ve never actually tried it myself. It’s been a surprisingly long time since I’ve baked a 9×13 inch cake. But the principal is still the same. If you have any feedback after giving it a try, I’d love it if you came back and shared!

  6. Meg Sylvia says:

    My goodness, you are a genius. Seriously, can’t wait to try this.

    • Annalise says:

      Thank you so much! I can’t remember where I learned it from, but it is definitely too good of a tip to keep to myself!

  7. You just saved me soooo much time!! Love this post!

  8. Maude says:

    Thanks for the tip! That’s always so frustrating when this dome appears! Concerning a measuring converter, I have the App “Units” on my IPhone as I read a lot of American blogs, but we use kilos, meters, Celsius in Switzerland ;-) !

  9. I’ve always heard of lowering the temperature but never tried it because I was afraid it would have an affect on texture – but you’ve convinced me! Great post!

  10. Susan says:

    Thanks for the great tip, Kelli!
    Here is a link for conversion chart posted by Simply Delicious:
    http://simply-delicious-food.com/2014/03/26/conversion-chart/

  11. Donn Diegel says:

    I use Wilton’s Bake-Even Strips around my cake pans. My cake layers come out level every time.

  12. ianna says:

    lol you can just save yourself the trouble of doing the math by placing the cake pan on the scale, zeroing the scale, and THEN adding your cake batter…..

    • Annalise says:

      That’s exactly what I do! But it doesn’t really work for finding the total weight of the batter before pouring it in the pans. You’ll need to know the weight of your bowl so you can subtract it.

      • Kattrinka says:

        Wow! After 40+ years of baking, such a simple fix!
        Regarding weighing the batter, you don’t need to subtract, just put equal weights in each pan. Sometimes you need to fuss a tablespoon or so back and forth ;) Regarding the bake even strips….yes they work but are a major PAIN to use. This method sounds so very simple! Thanks!

  13. Thanks for the tips! Here is the actual math conversion but there are so many sites that will just do the math for you.

    °C to °F Multiply by 9, then divide by 5, then add 32
    °F to °C Deduct 32, then multiply by 5, then divide by 9

    or

    Celsius to Fahrenheit (°C × 9/5) + 32 = °F
    Fahrenheit to Celsius (°F – 32) x 5/9 = °C

  14. love this! so helpful, Im definitely going to try your tips next time! (Now if only I could get my layers to rise that high and thick!!)

  15. Daniel C says:

    In Celsius, 350° Fahrenheit =176° Celsius & 50° Fahrenheit = 10° Celsius

    So, bake at 165° Celsius.

  16. Such great info! Thanks so much for sharing these useful tips ;)

  17. good lord, woman! I like the way you bake. thanks for the tips.

  18. Julie Sandberg says:

    Sometimes, my pans laugh instead of giggle.

    They are very tickelish.

    I miss the beach!!!

    ;o). <3

  19. Great tip, I will try it says:

    How do you get your measurements for the amount of batter to use for the size of cake tin?

    • Annalise says:

      I rely on the recipe to tell me what size pan and how many to use. Also, as a general rule, I do not fill my cake pans more than 2/3 full.

  20. Omotayo says:

    I always bake my cakes at a lower temp. than recipes specify but I also rap the bottom of the pans on the counter to deflate bubbles; while I always get level cakes, there is minimal rise. The cakes are still fluffy but I heard that rapping the pans deflates the batter. Is this what is causing the cakes not to rise?

  21. Mihaela says:

    Hi, this is an interesting article, and I agree with equal amounts of batter in pans and lowering the temperature, I do that for less browning on sides and sure the dome is smaller. But, it depens on the recipe. The dome comes from the levening agent too, like baking soda or baking powder. So, some recipes will still have a dome, even after your instructions, while others can have no dome. You didnt specidy what recipe you used. The recipe I use for lemon cake, red velvet does not make a dome, while the pound cake, even with your instructions still has a dome.
    Happy baking!

    • Annalise says:

      Thank you for your input! I have actually never had a recipe baked with these instructions either have no doming or considerably less doming. I follow these instructions with all of my layer cake recipes.

  22. Mandy Nel says:

    So this would also work on cakes that you bake that you need to bake longer? I have that delicious choc cake of inspired by chocolate Michelle and find that when I bake it at recommended heat that the smaller cakes are fine but when I bake cakes in bigger diameter they always seem to get real toasty on the outside edge and on top, with center sometimes being almost underbaked?

    • Annalise says:

      Sounds like maybe your oven temp is off? Try inserting an oven thermometer before preheating and seeing if it reads the same. If the oven is too hot that could be why the edges burn before the center cooks completely. Good luck!

      • Bianca says:

        I always encounter same problem with sponge cake. Normally we are nt allow to insert toothpick in the center for sponge cake. My sponge cake remains unbaked in the centre, even thought it cracks on the top. Oven temperature sounds good. So what else could help me please?

  23. Emily says:

    Will this work for cupcakes too??

  24. Carole says:

    You can make your own baking strips for the pan out of paper kitchen roll and aluminium foil – just a bit of measuring, cutting and folding – takes minutes

  25. Zina says:

    Just google, “Fahrenheit to Celsius Calculator”, and Google has their own calculator at the top of the page.

  26. sue says:

    To convert from Fahrenheit to Celcius, subract 32, divide by 9 and multiply by 5.

    350 F would be (350-32) /9 x 5
    318 /9 x 5
    35.33 x 5 = 176.66 C (about 177C)

    If ever in doubt if you’re doing it right, remember that 98.6F = 37C

  27. Bianca says:

    That’s great! I didn’t know that convertion, very useful. Thks for sharing yr knowledge.

  28. Shirley says:

    OK so I have read all of your comments and I can only say that many many years ago when I was doing all that baking (still do some but no where near what I used to) I used a very simple method for smoothing out the cake domes. The minute your cake is removed from the oven, either use an oven mitt or just a pot holder and lay on the top of your cake. Press down to remove the air and the dome goes away on its own. Hope this helps!

    • Annalise says:

      I think I have actually heard of that tip before, but haven’t tried it myself. Thanks for reminding me to see how it works next time I bake a cake!

  29. Shirley says:

    Annalise, let me know if you try this. I just wanted to add not to push too hard on the cake but still kind of firm. You can actually watch the top and tell when you have reached the point of evenness.

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