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

4.62 from 13 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 Cheryl October 3, 2014 at 2:48 am

    Thank you so much for the towel tip, I makes loadsa cakes ,wish I’d known about it before.

  • Reply Michelle October 2, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Thank you so much, it worked! I didn’t have any spare towels, so I tore a strip of fabric and folded it a couple of times.

  • Reply Kelsea Knight September 26, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Thank you so much! It actually worked

  • Reply hueydude September 26, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Happily, this technique works as advertised. All these years, all that wasted cake! These baking strips have been around forever. I guess i wasn’t paying attention.

    BtW….I found it necessary to rotate my pans midway to cook evenly. Or it could be my old oven…

  • Reply Laurie September 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    I’m so excited to try this!!!!

  • Reply Dorien September 14, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I tried this yesterday for a four layer chequerboard and it worked amazingly well. All layers matched and no need to cut them flat for icing etc. brilliant idea. Many thanks

  • Reply Christina September 9, 2014 at 8:34 am

    This was one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it things” … and now I’m a believer. It truly works like a charm. Thanks so very much for sharing!

  • Reply Lauren September 4, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks! I did it with a round silicone pan and it worked great!

  • Reply Deb September 4, 2014 at 1:20 am

    This also works with cheesecakes. No water leaks from springform!

  • Reply Neferi August 31, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    This was the first result on a Google search of “How to bake flat cakes”, and I am so happy I came across it! I’ve always been so frustrated with my non-flat birthday cakes, and cutting the top was always messier than I wanted.

    I was really skeptical at first, but this worked great for me! I had a few bubbles, which probably means I didn’t tap the cake for long enough, so I’ll make sure to do that next time, but I highly recommend this method for baking cakes.

    A number of people mentioned it taking longer to cook. I used a box mix in a 9″ circular pan, cooked for the minimum time recommended, and the cakes were just right. So it didn’t seem to change the time to cook at all.

    The towels themselves appear to have survived perfectly, so I think I can reuse them some other time (and I plan to!). I wasn’t sure what to expect lol.

    Thank you so much for posting!

  • Reply Savannah Davitt August 30, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Hi!!! Sadly, I just finished baking my cake for tomorrow and it already domed so for this time Im screwed.BUT thanks for the awesome tips!!! I baked my cake in a springform pan I just recieved and it turned out awesome except for the dome. Do you know if this trick will work for springform pans as well?

  • Reply Joy August 24, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    I have a cake order to fill this week. I can’t wait to try this!

  • Reply Anu August 24, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Hi Adrianna!
    Wonderful tip. Im going to bake a cake in 2 days but in a microwavable glass bowl (on microwave, not convection mode). Will this method work? Do you have any eggless cake recipe?

  • Reply Michaela of By Michaela Cakes & Cupcakes August 19, 2014 at 12:28 am

    This is fab. Baked 2 layers each of 6, 8 & 10 last night and minimal off cuts. Amazing! Thank you for sharing this x

  • Reply Sammar Mohy eldin August 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Thats really amazing and helpful an gonna try it for a sheet cake 33cm×32×5cm pan..will it work properly..and what would be the perfect chocolate cake recipe for that sized cake…
    thanks in advance

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