When layer cakes bake they dome in the middle because, as the pan heats, the batter near the edges of the pan cooks faster than the batter in the middle. Domed cakes aren’t conducive to stacking and icing when you’re constructing a multi-layered confection. Here are some fixes:

The most basic approach is simply to slice the dome off so your layers will have flat tops. Use a long serrated knife, and work slowly. It’s easiest to get a level top if you rotate the cake as you slice the dome off. A rotating cake stand makes this easy, but a lazy susan placed on top of an upturned cake pan or Dutch oven is a good substitute, says Kelli2006. A wire cake cutter takes the guesswork out of leveling, and can be used to divide one cake into perfectly even layers, says TorontoJo. To make frosting go on neatly, lay each layer cut-side down, so the crumbs from the cut side don’t gum up the works.

When you slice the domes off cakes, you get a lot of yummy nibbles but you also lose a lot of volume in the finished cake you serve. You can prevent cake layers from doming while they bake using a couple of methods. There are special cake strips made of aluminized fabric, which you moisten with cold water and wrap around the cake pan. They keep the outer edges of the pan cool, so the cake’s whole surface bakes evenly and doesn’t dome; many swear by them. AGM_Cape_Cod has had success keeping cakes flat-topped by covering the cake pan with foil until the batter sets, then removing the foil for the remaining baking time.

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