Cutting Cake into Layers


For our round cakes, we generally cut them into 3 layers on a revolving cake stand.  The best way to cut the layers is with a long serrated knife; its tip should never get trapped inside the cake.  Hold and spin the top of the cake with one hand, and with the other, hold the knife horizontally so that it makes a shallow cut into the side of the cake.  When it’s gone all the way around, saw the knife into the cake more as you continue spinning, using the groove created by the first spin as a guide for the knife, until it is cut all the way through.  It’s amazing how smoothly and evenly the cake will be cut.  Generally, it’s best to cut off the domed top of the cake, and then mark two lines that divide the cake into thirds before going for the full cuts.  If the layers that you cut are very thin, you can slide them onto cardboard rounds so that they don’t break in transit.  I like to stack the layers back into their original order; some stack them in reverse order and upside down so that the layer with the most defined edges (that was the bottom of the cake) winds up on top.
For our 1/4 sheet cakes, we bake the batter in a thin layer in a parchment-lined sheet pan, let it cool, put a parchment on top, and flip it over.  If you peel the parchment halfway off (folding it down to make sure), then you can cut the cake almost perfectly in half.  Then peel the remaining parchment off starting from a side that is perpendicular to the halfway fold and again peel halfway off (folding it down to make sure), so that the parchment is now folded into a size that is a quarter of the cake.  Cut the cake.  There are now two perfectly cut quarters.  Lift up one quarter and place it on top of the other side of the cake so that you can use it as a template to finish cutting the cake into quarters.  The benefit of this method is that it saves you having to cut a large rectangular cake into layers, but because it’s baked so thin, the batter has to be evenly spread in the sheet pan or else there will be thick and thin areas.  Once you start stacking and filling the cake, it’s a pain to try to compensate for the bumps.  Also, this method will leave you with 4 layers per sheet pan, so either you’ll have an extra piece or you can use the extra piece in another cake.

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