How to level cakes.
Leveling cakes are one of the most important steps before you start decorating your cakes. Doing so will save you some headaches and frustrations. Here are the whys, the methods and the tools used to level and torte cakes evenly.
Some of the reasons why cakes need to be level are:
- To remove the crust or dome
- To have the same size layers
- It is easier to assemble and to make tiered cakes.
- Reduces the probability of air getting trap in between layers.
- Reduces the chances of bulging.
Remove the crust or dome.
When we bake the cakes the leveling agents help the cake rise making them fluffy and more so in the middle of the cake where it takes longer to bake. You might have noticed when you bake box cake the dome is huge hence you lose a lot of cake. When you bake from scratch, the dome still there but is minimal so you don’t have to cut a lot of cake out.
Removing the crust/dome will expose the soft inside of the cake, so you get to enjoy a tender cake and skip the crust.
Same size layers.
It is so pleasant to the eye to see even layers of cake and frosting when you cut your cakes. But the benefits of even layers come with the following items on the previous list which I explain next.
These apply not only for the flat surface but also to the circumference of the cake. It can happen that, even you are baking same size cakes, one of them has a bigger circumference when it comes out of the oven. Once you level the cakes horizontally, do the same vertically. Just stack them all together and cut any excess around them so they all have the same circumference.
Easier to assemble.
When you have even layers of cake vertically and horizontally as explain previously, the filling and the icing processes become so much easier. You don’t have to worry about getting crumbs with your spatula because one of the layers is bigger and it is sticking out. Then you have to be cutting out cake and icing because it is showing thru the final coat of icing.
Having a perfectly even cake is crucial for when you are stacking them together. Measure the height of the dowels which they all should be the same height and place them into the cake. Failing to have an even cake will cause your structure to be unbalanced and you are taking the risk of the cake tilting and falling.
Reduces the probability of air getting trap in between layers.
Since you remove the dome and the layers are flat the risk of getting air trapped in between layers is reduced considerably. When you spread the ganache or buttercream evenly and you have even layers, there is pretty much no space for the air to get trapped.
Let’s say your bottom layer is flat completely, you fill it evenly and the next layer has a dome and you place dome down for easier crumb coats. The filling or the icing will not touch or spread evenly against the upper layer because of the dome, creating pockets where the air gets trapped. Those air pockets will be looking for a way out and will end up creating an icing blowout.
Reduces the chances of bulging.
Bulging is when your filling overflows the perimeter of the cake. This can be caused by the weight of the top layer and the consistency of the filling. Having a dome will create bulging more than likely. One more reason to level your cakes.
Bulging can be prevented also by creating a damp with your ganache or buttercream around the cake, then fill it up and let it rest in the fridge for a while. After the cake is chilled you can add the coats of frosting and that should prevent bulging.
2 more ways ( How I do it after so many cakes)
In the video, I show you 2 easy ways to do it. Nowadays I do not need these guidelines since I have leveled way too many cakes so I just eyeball it.
Also, you can situate your knife where you are going to cut, lock the position of your arm and with the help of your turntable spin the cake slowly while cutting across the cake with a knife. I know there are people who use a sewing hoop. At the end, use the one that it is more convenient for you.
Here is how I level my cakes.