Cake layers are supposed to be disks, yes?

Well, it’s the middle of July again, which means kaylasmom’s birthday is at hand, and I want to make her a birthday cake. I generally put together a mix cake, and I prefer to make it layered. This means, of course, that I divide the batter into two round pans, bake them simultaneously, cool them, and assemble the finished product from two disks of cakey goodness, glued together with frosting, and covered all over with more frosting.

The damnable thing is, when I get ready to assemble the cake, I find I don’t have two disks; I have two scale models of the Astrodome. What’s up with this? Can anyone share a technique for making cake layers have flat tops, instead of big rounded lids?

Thanks a bunch.

After you take them out of the pan, take a clean piece of piano wire and cut the top off the one that is going to be on the bottom. Then continue on as normal. I think this is the easiest way and the one most commonly used by most pastry chefs, although they might use a knife instead of a piece of wire, which you could certainly do too.

Mines Mystique

I don’t know if there is some way to bake them so they don’t dome up ( I am sure someone will be along soon with the answer), but I always invert one layer on top of the first layer. Put the two dome sides together. That way you have the flat bottom as the top of the cake. When you put the frosting in the middle just spread it a little thicker towards the outsides and thinner in the middle.

You can also try slicing the top of the cake to make it flat, or pulling a string through it to cut it, but I have never had much luck with that.

Dental floss actually works really well. I usually cut each layer in half, too, to make four layers with frosting in between each - yum!! Probably have to double your frosting recipe, though.

Just pull the floss towards you horizontally.
Good luck - what kind are you making?

Oh, MAN! I just today found a pair of replacement knobs for the lid on the piano! If I start taking the wires out, just to make the layers on her birthday cake stable, I’ll be sleeping on the couch until my next birthday! And that’s in May!

Thanks for the suggestions. Maybe I’ll just slice off a part of the domes. That should make them flat enough to not wobble, and then I can fill in the gaps.

A serrated bread knife works well for this, too.

Yup, here’s what I do. Take a bread knife – you know, the one with the straight, serrated edges, and cut the domed top off at least one of the layers. Savor this bit of cake while you assemble the layers. Place the cut layer, right-side up on a plate, add icing, then place the second layer on top, also right-side up. Your crumbs are conveniently sealed between the layers.

If you must be a perfectionist, you can also slice the dome off the top of the second layer. If this is the case, place it upside-down on top of the iced first layer, again, effectively sealing the loose crumbs between the layers.

I personally don’t mind one dome-topped layer on top, but that’s not so great if you’re going to pipe writing on the top.

Just out of college, we had a friend having a birthday, and we at the house volunteered to make a cake for the church home group party. We invited a friend over to help, because she was a girl, and would, you know, understand these things.

She failed to solve all the problems, and we made a multi-layer cake with pie tins (with the angled edges), and didn’t cut off the rounded tops.

The resulting cake developed San Andreas cracks in the top, which IIRC, we tried to fill with frosting.

It tasted fine, but the women at the group had a good not-too-private giggle about it.

Uhh, let’s see what’s in the cupboard. Angel food and cornbread.


Wait a minute. Here in the back, there’s a box of devil’s food. Sooooo, chocolate.

Nah, she’s blind, and after that time in 1984, when I put the message on in Braille, I’ve decided not to bother any more. I usually do hand-written Braille backwards, and instead of Happy Birthday, You’re 30!", it came out “Happy Birthday, You’re 83!” Fortunately, my sub left the following week on a six-month West-Pac, so I didn’t leave any permanent dents in the sofa.

NO, you walk into the music store, all dressed up in your baking outfit witjh the pans under your arm and ask for a spool of “#12 piano wire.”

Seriously, I use a big knife. Just be careful and it’ll come out reasonably flat.

Eh, make a sheet cake instead. If you’re set on having a round birthday cake, though, use toothpicks around the side to mark the level you want to slice, and then pull the string/floss through, or cut it with a serrated knife. If you cut the cake, be aware that the crumbs will emerge in the frosting, so use a very thin layer of frosting to seal in the crumbs. This is also why you want to use the bottom of one cake layer as the top of the cake. The sliced off tops are useful for chinking any bad areas, but again, will “bleed” crumbs when frosted. The tops are also delicious eaten without frosting.

Some people dust the tops of cakes with powdered sugar and call it good. While this results in a tasty cake, most people think that a birthday cake really needs frosting. Depending on your wife’s tastes, you can decorate the cake with little candies, like gumdrops and jelly beans, on top of the frosting, and it will look very festive.

Still not a bad idea, especially if she likes jellybeans or whatever, but I guess making it look festive is probably not so important.

Assemble the cake on a dish, rather than a plate; put the domed side of one layer upside down into the concave face of the dish, add the jam/icing sandwich filling, put the top layer on the right way up and add the icing on the domed top.
It means that slices cut from the cake need to be served on their side, but that’s only good and proper anyway.

Just make sure it’s unwaxed. Make a loop around the chake and carefully pull tight. Works like a charm.

Give the cake a hand along if the batter is thick enough; leave a dent in the middle of the batter before you put it in the oven. This may sound ridiculous but I was taught it in home ec and it’s always done some of the trick for me.

They actually make “cake strips” that you put around the base of the round cake pans. They’re metallic-looking cloth (like those old hot pads used to be), and they are supposed to distribute the heat more evenly, and give you nice flat cakes.

I make my own with aluminum foil and Scotch tape. Just cut a piece of foil the length you need, cut it in half (or thirds) lengthwise, and then fold to the desired width. Wrap it around the cake pan and tape it. It works for me.

You could always try it, and then if it doesn’t work for you, use a knife or dental floss.

One thing that causes the domed top is using pans that are too small. If you’re getting a large amount of doming, you might want to try switching to larger pans, say from 8-inch rounds to 9-inch rounds. Some doming is not unusual, so trimming of the dome is sometimes necessary. A long bread knife works well if you don’t need the exactness of piano wire.

Tonight you will sleep with the fishes, Mr. Spice Cake with Speedy Caramel Frosting!

Another useful cake tip, just to make things look neater: before frosting, stick strips of wax paper under the edges of the bottom of the cake, sticking out to cover the edge of the plate. Then, when you frost the sides, you don’t have to worry about getting frosting all over the plate. When you’re done frosting, you can take out the wax paper. You now have a cleaner looking plate.

Bwahahaha. Didn’t she at least think you were sweet for trying?