Not a single day goes by that I don’t get a little excited about baking cakes. When I started my baking adventures, I would pace around the kitchen like an impatient child waiting for my creation to come out of the oven. I was mainly just waiting to see whether my cake would come out with a mountainous bulge sticking out from the middle.
And yes – you guessed right – I was usually disappointed every time. What on earth was I doing wrong? Why does my cake rise in the middle every single time?
I didn’t really think I was doing anything wrong until I started watching baking videos and saw that everyone else was baking flat-top cakes with perfect fluffy flat layers. I wanted my cakes to look like that too!
I wanted to learn how to make a cake rise evenly and learn how to get flat cake layers every time I baked a cake. After numerous failed attempts and many, many cakes later, I mastered the skill of how to make a flat cake it’s changed my life and my cakes have thanked me for it!
And to be completely honest, it’s really not that difficult to achieve flat cake layers. I don’t understand why it took me so long to discover these very simple and easy tricks in the first place.
Now, if you want to find out why your cakes rise in the middle, and how to stop a cake from doming, I will take you through some of the best tips and tricks that I use to make flat cakes every time.
Let’s get started!
Why Does A Cake Dome In The Middle?
Why do my cakes rise in the middle, I hear you ask? The main reason why your cake domes in the middle 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 center has domed. Although we trust our ovens to heat up to the exact temperature we have selected, more often than not, your oven will lie to you! I know, shocking.
To get the most accurate temperature reading for your oven, the best thing to do would be to invest in an oven thermometer. It will give you an accurate reading of your oven, so you know the exact temperature before you bake anything. An oven thermometer isn’t just useful for baking cakes, it comes in handy for literally everything you cook in your oven.
How To Prevent Cake From Doming
Reduce Oven Temperature
If you want to know how to bake a cake evenly, one of the simplest ways to minimize the size of the dome and one that seems very obvious 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. Thinking about it, that’s actually pretty high for a cake. No wonder they come out looking burnt around the edges with a mountain as tall as Everest in the middle.
To avoid a dome, the best thing to do is lower the temperature by 50F/20C. Baking your cake at 325F or between 160C-170C 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 the 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 30 minutes.
How long you bake them for also depends on the size of the cake you are making. I have baked four 8’’ cakes at 170C/325F for 25 minutes and they came out fully cooked. This is because I evenly separated out the batter between 4 cake tins. If you were to bake two 8’’ cakes in two deep cake tins, then they will take longer to bake. So just keep that in mind.
Reducing the oven temperature is the trick that I use and one that works for me every time now. I have found that my cakes will slightly dome while they are in the oven. There is no need to panic at this stage. As soon as you take your cake out to cool, the dome will start to disappear, leaving you with a flat top on your cake.
If you are worried about the dome though, after you’ve left your cake in the tin for 5 minutes, take your cake out and leave it to cool on a wire rack upside down. This will help minimize the size of the dome.
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 minimize a domed center.
How To Fix A Domed Cake
Use a Cake Leveller
If you’ve tried reducing the oven but your cake is still coming out with a dome in the middle, there are a few other things you can do to level out your cake. Another way to ensure your cake is nice and level is by cutting the dome off yourself. This can be done with a serrated 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, awful mess.
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 too.
If you are using a cake leveler, adjust the wire to the height of the flattest part of your cake. Gently move the leveler 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.
Baking tip: Leave your cake to cool with the domed side facing down before using your cake leveller. This will help decrease the dome while it’s cooling and you never know, you might not even need your cake leveller in the end.
How To Stop a Cake From Rising In The Middle
Cake bands 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!
How to Use Cake Strips
Cake baking 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 baking belt 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 too quickly.
The end result will be a beautifully flat, fluffy sponge.
How to Make Cake Strips at Home
Old Clean Towel
- Cut strips out of your towel long enough to wrap around your cake tin.
2. Put the strips in a glass or bowl of water and leave to absorb the water for 5-10 minutes.
3. Take your baking strips out and rinse them well so they aren’t dripping with water but are still damp.
4. Wrap them around the cake tins and secure them with safety pins so they don’t slip off.
Now you have DIY baking strips!
Kitchen Roll And Tin Foil
- Cut enough kitchen roll to fit around your cake tins.
2. Soak the paper towel in water for a few minutes.
3. Rinse the water by squeezing out any excess.
4. Measure out some tin foil about 2 inches longer than the paper towel.
5. Fold the wet paper towel gently to fit the depth of your cake tin and place it on the tin foil.
6. Fold the tin foil around the wet paper towel.
7. Wrap the tin foil with the paper towel around your cake tin and secure it.
Make sure you use thick, good-quality kitchen roll, like Bounty, that won’t tear or disintegrate into a mushy pile of tissue paper.
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.
Now that you know how to get flat cake layers and how to stop a cake from doming, no more botched cakes, no more uneven buttercream, and no more wonky-looking cakes. Winning!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a domed cake, so don’t be disheartened if your cake comes out with a dome. It’s equally as delicious but, as we have seen, there are many ways around achieving beautiful flat layers even if your cake does peak in the middle.
I am sure that if you try any of these tips and tricks, you will never have a domed cake again
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