Almost 3 years ago I wrote a post titled How to Bake a Level Cake for Cheap! That post has been super popular but the other day when someone asked on my Facebook page about how to avoid "the dome" when baking a cake, I thought I'd do a little updated post on this topic and add some extra thoughts.
Without too much rambling today, let's get to it! Here are 3 ways to avoid domed cakes:
1. Bake lower and slower! What do I mean? I bake all... ALL of my cakes at 325°F (lower) and I bake them for 40 minutes to an hour or longer (slower).
I always set my timer for 38 minutes and check them for the first time! The smaller cakes are usually done or very close to done at that time. The bigger they are - the longer it takes. When I do large 16" tiers for wedding cakes - I've baked them for as long as an hour and fifteen minutes.
This lower/slower method allows the cake to bake more evenly. If your oven is hotter, that will make the batter rise more quickly and dome up in the middle.
2. Use Wet Towels on the Outside of Your Pans. This is the method that I dedicated an entire post to... If you want to know how to bake a level cake for cheap ... THIS is what you should try! It works really well and you probably have everything you need already in your house!
3. Use Heating Cores. You have a couple of options here... you can use real heating cores - or you can use flower nails as heating cores. I've done both! Here are some that I have: Wilton Flower Nails, Ateco Heating Cores (these are called heating cores, but they look like flower nails...love them!!), and a Wilton Heating Core.
When I first started doing cake, I bought a standard heating core - as seen above and someone also gave me one they weren't using anymore, so I have two.
To use these, I spray my pans with Baker's Joy or paint them with my homemade cake release, then I spray/paint the heating core also (on the outside and inside - anywhere it's going to touch cake). I do the same thing with flower nails (or Ateco Heating Cores) - spray them down with non-stick spray and put them in the center of the pan (upside-down):
You see... these heating cores that look like flower nails (turned upside down) or standard heating cores basically do the same thing... they heat up in the center of the cake and distribute heat from the center toward the outside at the same time that heat is baking the cake from the outside of the cakes toward the center.
After the pans and heating cores are prepped, fill the pans with batter as usual (put batter inside the 'real' heating core at the same level as in the pan.
Then bake them (lower and slower!!) until a toothpick comes out clean. When I pulled out these pans... perfectly level:
For the one with the heating core, you just have to pop out that little plug of cake and put it back in the center:
Anywho... that's it!! 3 Ways to Avoid Domed Cakes!
Oh - one more thing!! Sometimes, if I'm baking a really large cake or a giant sheet cake, I'll use 2 flower nails (in a rectangle pan) or I'll use a heating core and wet towels on the outside for extra assurance that the cake will come out level!
What do you think? Have you ever used any of these methods? Do you have other secrets for baking a level cake?? I'd love to hear them in the comments!
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