I spent years baking cakes, all of which would come out with a dome in the middle. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with that until I started watching other baker’s videos and seeing how wonderfully levelled, light and fluffy their cakes were coming out. I wanted my cakes to look like that too!
It is a nightmare when you try to level the dome with a knife, as chances are, it’ll turn out into a wonky, crumbly mess. And don’t get me started on the uneven frosting! So, if you are disappointed by the look of a domed cake as much as I am, then keep on reading as we find out how to stop a cake from doming.
Why Does a Cake Dome?
The reason why a cake domes is because your oven is too hot. When you place your cake batter in the oven, it starts to cook at different speeds. The outer edge of the cake begins to cook first, with the middle of the cake having more time to bake and rise. By the time the whole cake has baked, the outer edges are burnt and the centre has domed.
You can spend your precious time scraping away the burnt edge and covering the dome with frosting, but it will never look as great as a nice flat, fluffy, pillow-soft sponge.
How to Stop a Cake from Doming
A simple way to minimize the size of the dome is by reducing the temperature in the oven. Typically, a recipe will ask for a cake to be baked at around 350F-375F/180C-190C. To avoid a dome, the best thing to do is lower the temperature by 50F/20C. Baking your cake at 325F/165C will ensure that your cake will bake more evenly with no burnt edges.
Since you are lowering the temperature, your cake will take longer to bake. Increase baking time by around half. For example, if the recipe calls for the sponge to be baked for 30 minutes at 180C, then at 160C the cake will take around 1 hour. But be sure to keep checking the oven after 45 minutes.
This method on its own is not completely foolproof and your cake may still come out with a small dome. In this case, press your hand gently into the centre of the warm cake. This should decrease the size of the dome.
Top baking tip: Before you bake your cake, gently bang the cake tin on your kitchen bench. This will get rid of any air bubbles in your cake batter. This should hopefully minimise the domed centre.
Use a Cake Leveller
Another way to ensure your cake is nice and levelled is by cutting the dome off yourself. This can be done with a kitchen knife or a cake leveller.
Take your domed sponge out of the oven, remove it from the tin and place it on a wire rack to cool completely for about an hour. If you try and level your cake while it is still hot it will turn into a crumbly mess and the cake will be ruined.
Once your cake has cooled down completely, it’s time to level it out. Using a cake leveller is definitely easier, as you can adjust the wire, but don’t worry if you don’t have one, a knife will do the job fine too.
If you are using a cake leveller, adjust the wire to the height of the flattest part of your cake. Gently move the leveller along the cake. This should get rid of the dome evenly and leave you with a nice, flat sponge ready to be frosted.
If you are using a knife to level your cake, make sure the sponge is secure. Slowly cut across the flattest part, keeping the knife as straight as possible.
Top baking tip: Leave your cake to cool with the domed side facing down. This will help decrease the dome while it’s cooling.
Use Cake Strips
Cake strips are the ultimate game-changer when it comes to levelling out a cake. Once you start using them, you’ll be wondering why it took you this long to discover them! Cake strips are really easy to make yourself or you can find them in stores and online.
Cake strips are made from absorbent material which you soak in cold water for around 10 to 15 minutes before you bake your sponge. Once you are ready to bake your cake, drain all the excess water from the strips and fasten them around your cake tins. Pour your batter in the tins and leave to bake. Since the cake strips are wet and cool, they keep the outer edge of the sponge from burning so quickly. The end result will be a beautifully flat, fluffy sponge.
Top baking tip: Combine the methods of using cake strips and lowering the oven temperature. This will give you a perfectly evenly baked cake, that is light and airy.
All of us have made cakes with a domed centre. And although there is nothing wrong with a domed cake, it’s just not as aesthetically pleasing as a flat sponge. If you want to create beautiful multilayered cakes, with even layers and even frosting then learning how to stop a cake from doming is a great skill to have. Master levelling your cakes, and you will go from being a novice baker to a show-stopping star baker in no time!