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getting cake layers flat


vilasman
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I think I saw a tip in one of the cooking maazines recently on how to bake a layer of a layer cake so that it would come out pretty flat and you wouldnt have to trim of that top hump. Any one have an idea of what it could be? I am using the largest wilton round cake pan.

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Oh there's several things you can do. This is a laundry list of possibilities.

Use wet toweling or 'magic strips' around the outside of the pan during baking.

Use one or more rose nails or a baking core in the center of the pan.

Some people bake at 325.

As soon as you take the cake out of the oven, smoosh it level, like with a cardboard circle or something that to flatten the hump. It will re-arrange the structure of the cake but only right as you take it out of the oven. In a few minutes it will have set up and this will not work.

When I use a thick cake batter, I smoosh the batter up into the corners and smoosh it up the edges some so it is thicker on the edges, thinner in the middle. It levels out in the oven.

For big momma cakes, near the end of the baking I lay a piece of aluminum foil over the middle to help facilitate the bake. I leave it on after I remove it from the oven too.

Sometimes, I bake a larger cake than I really need so I can cut off the edges. Especially if you are baking a large cake--you know you risk frying the edges.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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K8memphis has the right idea.

When I attended baking school, way back in the '50s, we were taught to plop a measured amount of batter into the pan, depending on the size of the pan, then take a broad icing spatula, put it flat at the center of the batter and drag it toward the side as we turned the pan, which effectively drew the batter out to the sides of the pan, leaving a bit of a depression in the center.

We did not have time to wrap the pans with wet strips, we were preparing batter for 20 or more cakes at a time.

With sheet cakes, we used a bench knife (scraper), again, drawing the batter from the center out toward the sides.

The pans have to go straight into the oven because the batter will level off if left too long on the bench.

"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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...

When I use a thick cake batter, I smoosh the batter up into the corners and smoosh it up the edges some so it is thicker on the edges, thinner in the middle. It levels out in the oven.

...

As above, and what andiesenji wrote, I do this as well, but with a different technique for round pans. Can't remember where I learned it, but...

With a round pan, as it sits on the counter., I spin each one in place with a flick of the wrist, much like throwing a frisbee. Centrifugal force spins the batter to the outside of the pan.

Obviously it doesn't work with a square pan. For those I use the "smoosh" method with whatever tool is handy -- spatula, bench knife, fingers.

Cheryl, The Sweet Side
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I agree with SweetSide for very thin cake batters the "swirling" technique works well but has to be done just prior to placing the pan in the oven. It also takes some practice

Oh, one more thing. If you ever use glass baking pans, lower the oven temp by 75 degrees.

"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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Magic strips are key.

You can also use the more dangerous, but old-timers way of wetting a towel(s) and securing it around the pan, but this could catch fire, so don't leave the kitchen. With that said many people on the cake forums use the towel method. I don't.

Another safer homemade way is to wet paper towel and fold them inside aluminum foil and fold them into strips as not to expose any of the paper towel. Pin as many as you need together around the outside of the cake pan.

I also bake most of my cakes at 325. I don't really think this method produces flatter layers per se, but it makes for a moister cake. What you do not get by using this temp is the deep brown crust usually unless there is lots of sugar in your cake recipe and/or baking soda. Something I am willing to give up, as the moist cake is more important to me.

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So... you can bake a cake at say 300 F, in a darker pan for a little longer time and you should come out with something close to a golden brown crust.

I have a choice of pans. I have some SS steam table pans. My mom was a cafeteria manager so i have a lot of that stuff.

I have some 10" wilton pans and I picked some 9" yesterday

And I have a bunch on analon pans that I got to replace some Ultrex. The anolon pans are like olive colored and got them because nothing will stick to them.

I also have a boat load pf pyrex in a bunch of sizes, including pie plates that i guess I could use to make layer cake.

Now I have been using the SS pan since I was a kid with great longer exteriors, but they dont seem to come in shapes and sizes that normal people expect cakes to come in.

I want to make bread and rolls and then cakes and a couple of kinds of pie.

I am trying to sort out what will work best for baking a given thing

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So... you can bake a cake at say 300 F, in a darker pan for a little longer time and you should come out with something close to a golden brown crust.

Only use 300 degrees if you have a convection oven. Personally, I would not go below 325 otherwise. The browning again depends on both the color of the pans, the heat and the recipe itself (sugar and/or baking soda amounts.)

PS (edit): The real reason you should not go below 325 is because as the heat lessons, you get tinier air bubbles in the batter. I find at 325, this is desirable, producing a finer, more even crumb. Anything below this (convection oven aside) the air bubbles are too small and impede the rising process. Consequently, anything above 350 usually results in larger pockets (from air) in your crumb.

Again, I am talking about layer cakes here. There are other types that this rule may not apply to.

Edited by RodneyCk (log)
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