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Volume II
January 12,2004

More Solutions to Flat Cakes

“To bake a level cake, you need moisture around the outer edges to even the cooking.  There are bands you can buy to put around the pan - just wet them and apply to the outside of the pan.  I prefer to use (clean) old tube socks.  If it's a large pan, just sew or tie two together.  It works!”

-- Dr. Claudette Roper

Many, many years ago, my home education teacher taught us the following:

To prepare cake pans, all kinds, sizes or shapes; heavily grease the BOTTOM of the pan ONLY and lightly flour.  Leave sides clean.  I always make sure there are no bare spots on the bottom.  Holding up to light and checking the reflection of grease helps.  I usually will use my finger tip to be sure I have the bottom "corner" well coated.  I place a liberal amount of flour into the pan and turn and tap until it is thoroughly coated.  Be sure to tap out all the flour that will let go, even dropping upside down on counter to be sure all excess flour is removed.  You may substitute unsweetened powdered cocoa for dark cakes.  If you choose to use parchment paper instead of the grease and flour, the same is true:  Cut to fit the bottom being sure to go all the way to the edges, but leave the sides of the pan bare.  Be sure to do this BEFORE you mix your cake, as you do not want to activate your leavening agent with liquids and then let it sit around to die.

If you've always greased the sides, this will take a leap of faith.  It was explained to us that the cake needs to "crawl" up the sides and cannot adhere and crawl if sides are non-stick.

Second, after placing batter in pans, hold them very level about 3" or 4" above counter and DROP.  The impact will bring all large bubbles up to the surface, preventing those big holes in your cake and will give you a beautiful even texture.  I sometimes drop mine 2 or 3 times if mixture is bubbly.  I promise, you will not hurt it.

Last, but very important, you will notice your beautiful level cake is already beginning to pull away from the sides at the moment it is perfectly done.  Cool on racks away from hot oven for 10 minutes.  If you do not use a rack or cool too long, condensation my form between the pan and the bottom of your cake and it may stick.

After cooling 10 minutes, take a narrow spatula (the same one you probably apply frosting with) and go around the sides of the cake between cake and pan.  Be sure to go straight down and back up and out.  Don't be tempted to "slide" around the cake as you may roll the outside into little moist cake balls that will tear your sides.  Immediately turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.  I usually place my rack over my pan and quickly invert both.

I have used this method for 40 years and have never had cake dome more than a tiny bit.  Nothing the frosting between didn't level out beautifully.
This is a problem even for the experts.  I've seen them routinely slice the tops level on the cooking shows.  Good Luck.”

Grandma Paula
Chipita Park, CO

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