If you are making a cake with multiple layers, even just two, and you want the top of the cake to be level, the first step before assembling with filling and frosting is to assess whether your cake layers need some trimming. Some layers may peak during baking or end up lopsided, but this is easily taken care of. Sometimes a slight dome on top is very homespun in a positive way and can even be desirable, but if you want a flat top to write on or flood with ganache, then we have some great baking tips and techniques for you.
To trim off any rounded portions from the tops of your layers (and also to torte your layers), we suggest using a long, thin, hollow edge slicing knife as seen at the top of our image.
This kind of knife has smooth, rounded indentations along the blade, which reduce drag and make a clean cut. A serrated knife will work (depicted in bottom of image), but will create crumbs that get picked up by your frosting, wreaking havoc. A knife that has a longer blade than the diameter of your cake will be best. We use our turntable to aid this process. Place your cake layer in the center of the turntable, get down to eye level with the cake and gently spin. You should be able to see the high spots of the cake pretty easily. Gently slice those away – always cutting conservatively. You can cut more off later if you need to.
You also want to measure the depths of your cake layers so that they end up the same height. Since you will have divided the batter equally between the pans, chances are they are even, but sometimes one cake will rise a little more in the oven than the other. Trim every layer so that it is the same height. When done, we usually flip the cakes upside down so that their bottom is now the nice smooth, flat top. It’s easier to apply frosting to that side of the cake.