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Splitting/cutting a cake in half horizontally

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I will confess that I am not much of a baker, outside of cookies and pie (in fact, I'm not much of a sweet eater). The recipe for the cakes I'm baking tomorrow call for the layers to be cut in half horizontally.

Hints, please? This just reeks of disaster for me. Uneven cakes, cut hands, etc.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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It helps to have one of those lazy daisy-type things for cake decorating!

In baking class we learned to score the outside of the cake first, then once that's done (and the scoring is relatively even), cut all the way through one side. Keep one hand on top of the cake, and keep you head (eyes) at the same level of as the cake so you can see if your knife is straying.

And make sure you use a long enough knife to slice through the cake without having to reposition.

That's what I learned, but I still sucked at it!

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I was just thinking..."She wouldn't be asking if she had one of those now would she." So here's how I do it when I don't have my wire handy. I typically work from frozen since its sturdier (not necessary). Then, I use a bread knife for the serrated edges (they also tend to be longer). I score, aim for the center (if I can't go all the way through), and cut around the cake going only to the center. Eventually you come to the beginning.

One other method if you have enough knife length - lay some guides on the table on two sides of the cake (confection frames are great or dowels, etc). and let them be your guide. I hope something helps.

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I bake cakes like once a century, but when I've needed to split layers, I've found that the high E-string from a guitar (a set is not too expensive) works really well. As Rob suggests, guides can help: I use 1 x 2s on either side of the layer and drag across them to keep the cut even.

Bonus: you get to feel like a button man from The Godfather.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I have used dental floss successfully to cut layers evenly.  Just line up the floss and when you are satisfied, cross the ends and pull.

I am so trying that next time.

That's what I do. In a class the teacher taught us to put toothpicks half way up the cake in four places around it, pull the floss up to the toothpicks, cross the ends and pull. I go it without the toothpicks at home.

Pamela Wilkinson


Life is a rush into the unknown. You can duck down and hope nothing hits you, or you can stand tall, show it your teeth and say "Dish it up, Baby, and don't skimp on the jalapeños."

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For the rookie, the best tools to use are toothpicks or bamboo skewers (I teach my students to use the bamboo skewers, as they go deeper into the cake), and a clean plastic ruler.

You measure the desired height all around the cake with the ruler, and insert the skewers at the desired height, then cut just above the markers.

Theresa :biggrin:

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

- Abraham Lincoln

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For cakes that are going to be iced, I just grab the longest serrated knife I have, find a starting point, hold the knife level and attack. I find the longer I think about it and worry over it, the more mistakes I make. Minor uneveness gets worked out in the filling and icing. I still don't want it to be off to any large degree and exposed layers require more precision for appearance sake but it usually works out pretty well. I find it easier with the cake on a turntable but they don't always fit. I keep intending to buy one of those wire gadgets Rob mentioned. I want one with 2 wires so I can 1/2 or 1/3 the layers in one cut.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I do very little of that type of cake nowadays, however, when I was doing it I used stretcher bars (they are what artist canvas is stapled to) which I had in many lengths and in several thicknesses - they fit together with a "key" and come apart as quick as they go together.

And to cut the layers, from very small to 14-inch rounds, I used a cheese wire that has wood or plastic handles on each end for grasping and come in different lengths, I have 12, 15, 18 and 24-inch wires. (Also use them for cutting large wheels of cheese, their primary function.)

I just put three of the stretcher bars together, fit them around three sides of the cake and drag the wire along the top edge, sawing through the chilled cake.

I used an "rimless" cookie tin to lift the large layers off after cutting them free.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett


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I finally learned to do it by using: a) a good-quality (ie: sturdy) turntable, b) a long, granton-edged slicer, and c) two or three - one for each cut layer - cardboard cake circles the size of the cake, or wider.

Put the cake on a cake circle and put that onto the turntable. If you want to measure and use toothpicks for guides, go for it.

Put your non-knife hand flat on top of the cake and position the edge of the slicer against the cake side, where you want to make the first cut. Engage the edge of the knife about 1/4" into the cake, and then

Holding the knife level and steady, begin to turn the cake/turntable with the hand positioned flat on top of the cake. As you turn the cake you can press the knife more and more firmly against the cake. Do NOT move it back and forth - just hold it level and even.

You will be cutting the cake by moving it against the knife, not by actively moving the knife back and forth through the cake.

The cake will layer will have been cut by the time the knife blade passes the center of the cake. Slide the knife out of the cake, slip one of the cake circles under the freshly cut layer, and set it to the side.

Repeat with the next layer(s).

I helps is the cake can be very chilled when it is cut. The slicer needs to be very sharp.

This will work wonderfully on finely crumbed cakes, especially genoise and certain sponges. It does work - but less smoothly - on very gooey or cottony spongy cakes ... like angelfood backed in layers.



Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Use a serrated knife, and split the cake in half while rotating it. This video shows the process clearly:


Works like a charm. Also, I never use toothpicks. I just eyeball it.

If the cake layers are little uneven for whatever reason, don't worry about it. The filling smooshes & spreads and makes it hard to judge the exact thickness of each layer anyway. Then people eat up the cake, & they're not paying attention to technical details!

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I bake cakes like once a century, but when I've needed to split layers, I've found that the high E-string from a guitar (a set is not too expensive) works really well. As Rob suggests, guides can help: I use 1 x 2s on either side of the layer and drag across them to keep the cut even.

Bonus: you get to feel like a button man from The Godfather.

I think there's a reason that I bake cakes but once a century as well (although I'm not that old).

Let's start with the basic preps (german chlocolate cake, and that CI recipe had better be worth it). Paul has an October birthday; why can't he want an apple pie? I can do pie crust in my sleep!

I don't have any spare guitar wires, and none of the places that sell them are open.

Prepping as much as I could in advance, cutting the parchment rounds for the pans was an adventure. Peter, who is a geometry master came to the rescue.

I've taken to the garage for cutting the cake rounds. I have a nice long narrow bladed saw that is battery powered and has a brand new blade, which has been washed and bleached. Naturally my serrated blade on the bread knife is not long enough to get through the cake. I have all sorts of odds and ends of 1 x 2's and 2x4's. Since we have a lot of "inventory" (read, Paul can't pitch a single thing), I'm thinking power tools, since I'm a power tool sort of person. Shit, I sharpen my own axe on a grinder, and can wield a chain saw with the best of them, but a chain saw and a cake seem like overkill.

But, I'm so puzzled by this cake thing. I can garden. I can knit an Aran sweater without a pattern -- just give me good yarn and needles. I embroider dozens of day-of-week dishtowels every year. Why can't I bake?

Brooks has it right. Pie is better than cake. I don't even like cake. My husband is lucky I love him as much as I do.

Wish me luck tomorrow, and hopefully little blood flow!

Edited by snowangel (log)
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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