how to bake a flat cake

Flat cake tips; how to achieve that perfect flat top every time!  

Flat cake tips, my ultimate guide on how to bake flatter cakes  

Flat cake tips? I know what you’re thinking, why do I need to bother trying to achieve a flat top cake? I can just cut it off to make it flat. And you’re right, you can cut the top off for a beautifully flat cake. But, think of how much cake you waste every time you have to take 1/3 of it off to level it off. Baking the cake level in the first place prevents waste and helps you achieve taller bakes because you’re not lopping half of it off to level it. There are many ways to help to keep your cake level and bake more even and I’m going to take you through them so you can decide which is best for your bakes.  

Lower the temperature of your oven  

If your oven is too high, this is going to cook the sides and the top of your cake too quickly, which causes it to rise and form that dome shape. Every oven is going to have a sweet spot so it may take some experimenting with your own oven. I find that with most ovens the sweet spot for cooking a cake slowly is between 150C and 175C. I tend to go for around 165C in my own oven.  

And on that note  

Don’t bake your cakes on the top of the oven. Heat rises, so if you bake that cake on the top shelf it’s going to be hotter and cook quicker than if you placed it on the bottom or in the middle. I find the middle provides the best even bake.  

flat cake tips

Why does a cake dome?  

Cakes form that dome because the sides cook quicker than the rest of the cake, due to the heat transference from the sides of the pan. This forces the centre of the cake up. To counter this you need to find a way to stop the sides of the pan getting too hot. And, we have several options for this.  

Cake strips 

Many manufacturers make different kinds of cake strips. These strips, when wet wrap around your cake pan and keep the majority of the heat from it. They are adjustable and will fit a wide variety of sized pans. To use this type of strip, fit it around your cake pan to gauge to the size you need, remove it from the pan and soak in cold water. Gently wring it out and re-fit it to the cake pan adjusting the size to fit snugly. Then just bake you cake as normal.  

Wet towels 

A wet tea towel works in exactly the same way as cake strips, they keep the heat off the sides of the cake pan. To use this cheap alternative, simply choose a tea towel that will fit around your cake pan. We it, ring it out and fold it into a long thing strip. Then, simply wrap around your cake pan, pinning it into place.  

Paper towels and foil  

Paper towels and tin foil work in two ways, the wet paper towels work in the same way as the cake strips to keep the heat off the sides of the cake pan. Whereas, the tin foil reflects the heat off. To use this method simply roll out a length of tin foil long enough to wrap around your cake pan. Take a few pieces of paper towel, lay them out across the tin foil about 3 paper towels deep. Wet the paper towels and wring them out. Replace them on top of the tin foil and fold the two up in the same way as the wet tea towels. You want the result to be long and thin. You then wrap this around your cake pans.  

flat cake tips

Other options  

Heating core 

To help distribute the heat more evenly and help the centre cook at the same rate as the sides you can use a heating core inside your cake. This is placed in your pan before you pour in the batter and removed once the cake has baked. This helps distribute heat to the centre of the cake helping the cake bake evenly.  

Flower nail  

The large metal nails that are usually used to help you craft buttercream flowers, can also be used to help your cake bake more evenly. Used in the same way as a heating core this is a cheaper option. The nail is also smaller so doesn’t create a large hole or dent like the heating core does.  

After baking 

My top tip for helping achieving a flat top cake is to squash it after baking. I use this method alongside a wet tea towel whilst baking to achieve a perfectly flat cake. When the cake comes out of the oven, whilst it’s still hot, take a we tea towel and cover your cake, still in the baking pan. Then take something flat that will fit in your pan and gently apply even pressure to your cake. If you can’t find something the right size, I often just do this with my palms. A light, gentle pressure for around 30 seconds usually does the job for lightly domed cake.  

flat cake tips
Flat cake tips

And there you have it, my top tips for how to bake a flat cake! If you have any top tips for achieving a flat cake let me know in the comments! If you try these tips out let me know by tagging Whats Eating Manchester in your social media post! 

For more baking inspiration check out my blog or Pinterest! Don’t forget to subscribe to receive your free guide to improving your food photography.  

Sarah xx