• Matthew Evans' chocolate cake (Benito Martin)Source: Benito Martin
You don’t need a special oven or anything more than the usual set of cake baking equipment and a little extra cotton fabric.
By
Camellia Ling Aebischer

29 Nov 2021 - 2:36 PM  UPDATED 30 Nov 2021 - 10:32 PM

The answer to a perfectly flat cake is simple: cake strips. I’m not talking naked cakes, or anything to do with pole dancing, instead of a simple invention based on insulation.

Cake strips are strips of cotton fabric that are wet before being placed around the edges of your cake tin before it goes in the oven. The extra padding and cool water help to insulate the cake from the first blast of hot air in the oven. This would typically set the edges before it gets a chance to rise like the middle does creating a dome shape.

Bake this cake
Chocolate cake

This cake won me third place at the Bream Creek Show. I was so excited I didn’t stop bragging about it for a week. 

This extra time to cook slowly means the cake will rise in unison from the edges to the middle, meaning you no longer have to slice off those domed tops for layer cakes (sadly no baker’s snack) or deal with dry, hard edges.

All you need are a couple pieces of cotton fabric

Make a set of cake strips

You can make a set of your own cake strips very easily, just make sure what you’re using is 100 percent cotton, not polyester or another fabric blend as this might melt in the oven. Old cotton clothing or tea towels can be cut up if you don’t have spare fabric lying around.

Just measure the height and circumference of your cake tin and cut a strip of fabric 4 x the height and 1 x 5 times the circumference in length.

Fold the fabric over three times to create four layers, and optionally stitch the raw seam down to keep it in place (make sure it’s cotton thread too, not polyester). Tie the strip around your cake tin and secure it with a knot, you can trim the ends of the strip if they are too long.

Make sure you put them on before filling the tins or you'll be fiddling around.

When baking, just before you pour your batter into the tin, wet the strip and wring it out slightly so it’s not dripping. Then just tie it around the cake tin and continue on.

Personally, I haven’t had to adjust the cooking time of any recipes but you may need to add on an extra few minutes to the recipe time for the centre to cook through.

When you serve the cake flip them over so the smooth bottom is ontop for easy icing.

PS: You can also purchase cake strips online or in specialty stores and they are reasonably inexpensive considering they get repeated use, but if you already have scrap cotton sitting around it's probably easier to just make some. Plus it'll give that old stained teatowel a great second life.

Love the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @cammienoodle.

CAKES TO BAKE FLAT AND STAT
Salted caramel layer cake

If you need a birthday cake for someone who loves caramel, then look no further.  A moist, brown sugar cake is layered with a crisp cookie crumble, caramel sauce and a brown sugar-spiked cream cheese buttercream to make this cake over-the-top, yet not overly sweet. 

Luscious ginger layer cake

Ginger-perfumed sponge is layered with chocolate ganache and honeycomb, and topped with crumbled meringue. 

Confetti layer cake

I first made a version of this cake for my daughter’s fifth birthday. At the time I thought it was completely original, very clever idea I had dreamed up with colourful sprinkles decorating not only the outside but also the inside of the cake.

Hummingbird layer cake with pineapple flowers

This banana cream cheese frosting is sublime! The pineapple flowers take some time to dry out, but they don’t require much effort. I've found that I get the best results with a ripe pineapple – the flowers have a better, brighter colour and dehydrate more rapidly. They're not only pretty, but edible and truly delicious, too. The pineapple flowers can be made a few days in advance.

Chocolate layer cake with chocolate mousse icing

This is the ultimate chocolate layer cake, it's super dense and moist, but not too sweet.