The Kitchen Towel Hack You Need For Perfectly Level Cake Layers

If you've ever tried to make a chocolate layer cake, you've probably noticed that it can be quite difficult to get each layer to come out perfectly even. Often, the cake is higher in the middle while the edges gently slope down. To remedy this, many bakers try to even things out after the cakes have been baked — by either adding extra icing near the edges, or trimming the top of the cake to make it even. Both of these techniques have their downfalls, though. Adding too much icing between layers can affect the structural integrity of the cake, and cutting off some of the top can create a crumbly texture that adds an extra challenge while you're frosting.


The solution lies in an inexpensive product that almost everyone has in their kitchen: a sturdy kitchen towel. As strange as it sounds, wrapping your cake pan in a damp tea towel is the simple cake-leveling solution you didn't know existed.

How to level cake layers with a kitchen towel

Here's how it works. Before you place your cake in the oven, grab a tea towel and soak it in water. Let it sit for a few minutes to ensure the water permeates the fabric. Then, wring out any excess so it's not sopping wet. Once you pour your batter into your cake pans, wrap the wet tea towels around the outside of the pans.


If the thought of putting a kitchen towel in the oven makes you nervous, you can also buy reusable cake strips. They work similarly and serve the same function. You wrap them around the outside of your cake pan before putting it in the oven. Most are oven-safe up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and they might be a bit easier to work with than a tea towel because they have built-in loops to help secure them in place. However, you will have to buy different sizes for all of your different-sized pans.

Why the kitchen towel hack works

The kitchen towel hack uses a little bit of baking science to achieve perfectly even cake layers. Wrapping your cake pan with a damp towel insulates the pan, which helps the cake rise more evenly as it bakes. Without the insulation from the tea towel, the sides of your cake will begin to bake before the middle. This is because the outside of the pan naturally heats up faster than the middle. This gives the middle more time to rise as the sides of the cake begin to bake and set. When you add the damp towel, you give the sides more time to rise because they don't get hot as quickly, thus allowing them to become more level with the middle.


What's nice about the kitchen towel hack is that it prevents the problem from happening altogether, whereas other fixes only solve the problem after the fact. Another preventative solution you can try is baking your cake at a lower temperature, which can also give the sides of the cake more time to rise before they bake and set into place.