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