How To Level A Cake

This is how you make that perfect slice!

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Slice into a professionally-made layered cake and you'll notice how perfectly even the cake layers are. Those are not the natural result of a cake that didn't dome! Those layers are man-made and the good news is that it's totally doable! 

Even if you're a beginner baker, the skills you need to make a cake look like it was done by a pro, such as those even layers, can be a matter of knowing what techniques to use to make that illusion a reality. For some, it's the frosting that covers up any imperfections or even leveling up a ready-made cake; for others, it's hacking a boxed cake mix so it's better or just making sure cake layers are flat and even.   

You can do it! You do not even need any fancy gadgets or even any special equipment to make your cakes level. All you really need is a sharp serrated knife, your cake on a platter or cake board, and a keen eye.

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How do you make even cake layers? Here's how it's done plus tips to make it easy: 

1 Give your cake a firm base.  

Place your cake on its serving platter, turntable, cake board, or even a plate. Just make sure the cake is flat on this surface. You can even place your cake on parchment paper and lay it right on top of your table!

You just need to be able to turn and maneuver your cake as needed as you make even and level cuts. (That's why even parchment paper under your cake can be handy.) A cake turntable is super useful in leveling a cake but not necessary if you don't have one. 

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Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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2 Keep the knife flat.

Time to position your knife. The trick here is to level your knife at the point where the cake is most even. (You can of course cut the top off completely to make a new but straight and flat surface.) Keep the knife flat and steady, ready to slice through the cake top. 

3 Make little cuts first. 

You do not want to make a large slice straight across the cake unless you're confident that it will be level when you go through the cake.

If you're not yet that confident, you can make little cuts first that you can follow along as you gradually slice through the cake top. Here's where the firm cake base will come in handy.

Ready? Follow these steps: 

  • 1 Since your knife is level with the cake, make a shallow cut as if you're about to slice the top off of the cake, about 1 inch or 2 cm into the cake, then stop. Remove the knife from the cake. 
  • 2 Turn the cake about 45 degrees. (It can be in either direction, your choice, but stick to one direction.)  
  • 3 Make sure your knife is level again and then make another shallow cut, using the first cut you made as a guide on where to make this second cut. 
  • 4 Once you make the second cut, turn the cake again and repeat the slices. 
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Keep doing these steps until you reach the first cut you made. If you did it right, your first and last cuts should connect

If you need to while making those cuts, crouch and get eye level with the knife and cake before slicing so that the little cuts you will make are even.  

Your cake layers can be made perfect with this step-by-step guide on how to level a cake.
Photo by Unsplash/Caitlyn de Wild
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4 Slice through the cake. 

You now have a guide all around the edges of the cake top to help you slice through the top of the cake evenly! There's no more need to turn the cake so run your knife through the top of the cake using the guide cuts along the edges of the cake top. 

As you go through the center of the cake, use long slices or strokes so the cake will slice evenly and create fewer crumbs.  

5 Repeat as needed. 

You did it! You should have at least one cake layer that is perfectly even. Do it again to the second cake layer if you have one or slice this now evenly flat cake layer into two using the same technique. Feel free to measure your cake so your cake, when layered and frosted, looks like a pro baker had a hand in making it.    

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