How to Bake Flat Cake Layers

DIY, How-To

How To Bake A Flat Cake

I’m not sure there will ever come a day when baking isn’t magical to me. I still get giddy when I turn on the oven light, peek through the glass to see biscuits doubling in size. Or when a waif of baking banana bread skips through the house and under my little nose. Baking is my magic.

I love the trust and faith we must have in a recipe, in the ratio and in the ingredients. We trust that those ingredients will interact, react and transform into something so beautifully delicious.

Having just whispered all those sweet words of nothing, I’ll admit I’m not really a cake-maker-type girl. I’m not sure if a single layered-cake even lives on this blog. I’m pretty sure it has everything to do with me being an impatient person and thinking cake decorating is a little tedious. But when I want cake inspo, I turn to Sara from Matchbox Kitchen. She makes some insanely pretty cakes. One thing I LOVE about her cakes is how they’re all perfectly cylinder. The tops are completely flat. Flat cake tops are all the rage in the cake world.

Cake layers usually dome on us, rising right in the center and then cracking. I think doming on a quick bread is beautiful. I love it. My friend and baker, Hourie, wouldn’t think to serve a quick bread that didn’t dome. Cakes are different, though. But not to worry because baking flat cake layers couldn’t be easier!

How To Bake A Flat Cake

Just like my last how-to, I’m a little insecure about this post. Do you know this already? Is this obvious?

You could take a serrated knife or this cake slicer thing (that looks like a gigantic cheese slicer) and lop off the top of the cake. I’ve done this before. But sort of annoying.

OR you could buy these even baking strips that go around your cake pans. But sort of a waste of money, especially since this method uses an old towel and a few safety pins.

To start, you want to cut strips that fit the sides of your cake pan.

Fun side note: Use an old CLEAN towel, not an old dirty towel. I almost ended up using one that I used to clean the bathroom with. I can’t imagine cleaning solutions on towel strips and in the oven with your cake is a good combo.

How To Bake A Flat Cake

Next, you want to dampen the towel strips and wring out any excess water.

Wrap them around the cake pans and secure them tightly with a few safety pins.

How To Bake A Flat Cake

Repeat that whole process with the second cake pan.

Oh and be sure to butter your cake pans, line the bottoms with a round of parchment and dust them with flour. So important.

How To Bake A Flat Cake

Add the cake batter to the pans and smack them down on the counter a few times. This will eliminate any air bubbles.

Put it in the oven and bake away.

How To Bake A Flat Cake

What’s happening here is that the moisture from towel is helping the cake bake more evenly, resulting in an even rise and a cake with a flat top.

When they come out, they’ll be perfectly flat. Ta-daaaaa!!

How to Bake Flat Cake Layers

4.65 from 14 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serving Size: 12
Bake perfectly flat cake layers with an old towel! 


  • 1 old towel (but fluffy)
  • 4 safety pins
  • 1 batch of cake batter


  • Cut 3-inch wide strips that fit all the way around your cake pans. Make sure they fit around the cake pans! 
  • Soak the strips in water and squeeze out about half of the water from them. I like them to be very damp. 
  • Secure the wet towel strips around your prepared cake pans, pinning them using the safety pins. You'll want them to fit tightly. 
  • Add the cake batter to the pans and transfer to the oven and bake according to your recipe. 
Keywordbaking techniques, baking tips, diy baking, how to bake cake layers, perfect cake layers, technique baking
Did you make this Recipe? Tag me Today!Tag @acozykitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #acozykitchen
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  • Reply Slie March 9, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    wow!! this trick sounds a bit crazy but it realy works, I love it..

  • Reply Victoria Hayes February 5, 2017 at 2:03 am

    I just looked this up just before I put my Mum’s birthday cake in to cook, done as it said though a little wary, but for the first time ever I have an equally baked smooth flat topped cake!! Amazing!! Thank you for this tip, will definitely be using this every time I bake my cakes now!

  • Reply kelly petersen February 1, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    I literally looked this up and I’m watching it at work!! I’m also using rectangular pans, incredible! Thanks so much!

  • Reply Debbie August 22, 2015 at 8:02 am

    Hi, I’m making a carrot cake for a woodland themed baby shower. I’m using an 11x15x2 inch sheet cake pan and will have two layers. Since I’m not a professional and have little cake baking experience, I practiced making one and I have the temperature and timing down. I used one flower nail in the center and it came out perfect except it still had that dreaded dome. While slicing the dome off, the wire on my slicer got snagged up on the carrots and raisins and ripped up the cake, it wasn’t very pretty. So anyway, finally to my questions.. (1) will this towel method work with a carrot cake since it’s more dense than a normal cake? (2) will this trick work on an 11x15x2 inch sheet pan? (3) If yes to the first two questions, will it effect the time and temperature? Thanks so much for your help!

  • Reply Manoeuva August 12, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Can I use a cloth and not specifically a towel?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme August 12, 2015 at 12:11 pm

      Hmm…you need something thick and porous, like a towel. A normal piece of cloth probably won’t work.

  • Reply Jenn August 7, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    Wont the towel burn or set on fire?

  • Reply Jeaniene Outley August 6, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    This is just what I was looking for. Recently I make a DELICIOUS German Chocolate Cake…it looked awful (like a short leaning Tower of Pisa) but it smelled and tasted like perfection. I was tempted to just lop off the top of each layer to flatten them out but I did not want to waste that wonderfully moist chocolate cake. I am definitely going to try this with my next cake adventure. Thanks for the tip!!!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme August 6, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      Ahh this will solve this problem for you, for sure!

  • Reply Fran Wilson August 6, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Will try this tip n pass it on to my daughter who bakes a lot n looses a lot of cake by cutting it off.

  • Reply Donna August 4, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    How does this work and does it work in a electric oven or gas.

  • Reply Pearl July 26, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Hi I wanted to comment about this cake
    but did not feel like going through the process of registering.

    Perfection! Your touch is so delicate. Amazing work. Thank you for showing it to your readers.


  • Reply Linda July 24, 2015 at 4:44 am

    I’ve just baked a rectangular sponge and this method worked perfectly. It took an extra 5 minutes baking. I’ve not heard of it before and am very grateful for your tip. Thank you.

  • Reply janet July 11, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Never seen this before, What a wonderful idea, I have always looked at the ones you buy and they are soooo expensive. I have always wrapped a bit of card round the tin but it doesn’t work.
    Looking forward to trying that on my next cake!!!
    Thank you!!

  • Reply Valerie July 6, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Hi! I tried to step one time, and my cake came out underbaked. Do you think this method affects the cook time of the cake also? Should I leave it in longer since the wrap is making the cake cook slower??…

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme July 7, 2015 at 12:17 pm might. I would say definitely keep it in there until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

  • Reply Michelle June 30, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    I’m so excited to try this! Is the towel that you used relatively thin? If not is it possible to double the towel so it ends up being thicker, or does that ruin the cake?

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme June 30, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      I use a bath towel so it’s pretty thick! I’m not sure if it will help to double up a thinner towel. Perhaps? I haven’t tried it. If you do, please report back with the results!

  • Reply Rachel June 12, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I was kind of afraid that putting fabric in my oven would start a fire, but this worked like a charm! Thanks for the great tip!

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