How in the WORLD have I never done this before?! For at least a decade, I have baked a million cakes of all shapes and sizes. I make the batter, whether from scratch or a box, grease and pour it into the pan, and stick it in the oven to cook for half an hour. When the cake comes out of the oven it tastes delicious (usually). If I am baking it to just keep at home I plop some icing on it without thinking twice and savor the taste. If I am baking it to decorate and give to someone else, at least one more step is usually involved.
When you bake a cake, the edges of the pan cook first and the batter stops rising up the sides. Of course, this means the only place the cake can rise is in the middle. I am pretty sure everyone who has baked a cake has gotten a nice dome in the middle, more often than not. The fix to this problem when it happens is to level the cake by slicing the dome off the top. The end result is a shorter cake and a whole lot of wasted scraps that you usually just have to throw out. I cannot stand it when I have to throw food out!
I remember my grandmother wrapping these silver things around the outside of her cake pans when I was young. I had no idea what they were for back then, and as I grew older I didn’t put any stock into something like that affecting my cakes. How could a silver wrap change my cake?
Turns out, A LOT! Those silver wraps are called Bake Even Strips (though other companies produce them as well). Their one and only function is to make the cake bake evenly all around the pan and to eliminate that dome top. The strips range from about ten to twenty dollars and are sold in small and large sizes. You wet the strips and wrap them around the cake pan and the result is a level cake.
HOWEVER, if you are like me, the last thing you want to do is spend $20 on some funky strips. Another option for this is to create your own and it takes two seconds.
Homemade Even Baking Strips
Get an old bath towel (or anything terrycloth) and cut a slit in it about 2 inches wide. I did this going across the short side of the towel. Use this slit to rip the the towel the rest of the way (it just takes longer to use the scissors to cut all the way across). You now have a two inch strip of towel between two and four or five feet long. Wet the strip with cold water until it is soaking wet and wring it out just once. You want it to be thoroughly wet, but not dripping. Wrap the wet cloth around your cake pan and secure it with a large safety pin.
Place the pan in the oven as always (make sure the excess towel isn’t hanging down onto the oven coil or anything) and bake at recommended time.
This might increase your baking time. I have had to add ten to twenty minutes onto the few cakes I have already used this method on. I wish I had a picture of a domed cake to compare with the LEVEL cakes, but that will never happen now. There is NO WAY I will ever go back to baking without the towel around the edges. It is far too easy and simple and takes no time at all for beautiful cakes!
WOW!!! What a difference! The cakes shown here were all baked with towels around them. I didn’t cut the sides off or level any of them. The result is a beautiful evenly baked cake all the way around! Also, these are reusable, so just re-wet them next time you are baking another delicious cake!