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Anyone else do this to level a cake - Page 2

post #16 of 37
Thread Starter 
I couldn't hardly get the leveler to work. So I just use the towel on the hot cake & leveled it that way.
post #17 of 37
I use all of the above methods for leveling. My husband gave me a beautiful cake knife with a 14inch blade for leveling/torting, but I have a hard time keeping it level. The end of the blade that I am not holding seems to dip lower. I'm sure I must be angling my grip, but I haven't figured out how to prevent this icon_cry.gif I usually use the dental floss/string method for torting, but the knife would be much quicker if I could perfect the technique. Anybody have any tips?

Sandi
post #18 of 37
I guess I should qualify that I always LEVEL my cakes using the pressing method. I only use a bread knife or leveler when torting.
post #19 of 37
I really like my big leveler from Wilton! I have both. I don't like the small one though. I have a hard time using a bread knife because I always cut the cake crooked! I can never get it straight! I also use the towel over the cake & a cake board on top with a heavy pan! Calidawn's hint!
"Learn from a turtle... it only makes progress when it sticks it's neck out"
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"Learn from a turtle... it only makes progress when it sticks it's neck out"
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post #20 of 37
I don't do the smushing, levelling on waxed paper, parchment, a tea towel, in the pan stuff. Actually it is a method that goes way back in the Wilton Encyclopedias. They basically flipped the cake over onto waxed paper and gently slid it across to loosen the top and make the weight of it level.
Sometimes flipping a cake onto its crown to cool and make it level will also cause a bulge in the centre of the cake because the cake naturally tries to level when it is on its crown and in doing so, you may well get this bulge as the crown tries to settle.
I have both cake levellers and never or almost never use them. I do use a serrated knife - actually a cheapy bride's knife and that works best for me and I do level when the cake is just out of the pan. I find a hot cake easier to work with as the top hasn't crusted the way it does, slightly, when it is completely cool. Generally though, most people do cool the cake first before levelling.
Everyone has their own ideas on this one, the reason I don't use this method is that it does indeed have an effect on your cake texture - with some cakes a less noticable one, agreed, but what you are actually doing is pressing down the cake and making it more dense. You are compacting it. This generally isn't an issue but would be with certain kinds of cakes where the texture is a major part of its appeal. With some spongier type cakes, you can even cause the cake to sink or ruin the texture.
Pressing down on the crown portion of some cakes will cause cracking or breaking if the texture is easily susceptible.
When you have a really large crown, it isn't advisable to use the pressing down or waxed paper method, there is just too much crown to try to level and you can ruin your cake.
Putting a cake or leaving it in the pan can cause sticking issues with some cake recipes, so you really have to know how your cake will perform. Some cakes may get a rubbery texture because in effect as they are cooling they are actually steaming because there is no air circulation around the part that is trapped in the pan.
Regardless of what method you choose for getting a level cake, the most important thing is to make sure it is level, in that the top of the cake is absolutely level with where it meets the sides. Where this will become important is if you are making a stacked cake. Getting rid of the crown or bump is not enough, you must take the top of the cake down to the point where it is absolutely level with where the side joins. For every fraction of an inch that each level of a stacked cake is off, it is more of an issue with how many layers you are stacking. By the time you put that top layer on, you could be off quite a bit and have some issues with the cake sliding.
Commercial professional bakers always cool their cakes on a cooling rack that allows air to circulate all around the cake and then remove it to cool, again with air circulating all around it and level it with a serrated knife, like a bread knife as Dawn suggested. They are very careful not to exert any pressure on the cake when turning it out of the pan, so as not to affect the texture.
Generally commercial bakers never grease the sides of a cake pan, this allows the cake to support itself on the sides as it rises, so that the weight is well supported. They use a knife to loosen the edges before allowing the cake to cool. We grease the sides for one thing, so that we do not scratch the pans or get the crumbs that you get when you donnot grease the sides. It does make it more difficult to remove the cake from the pan.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes
post #21 of 37
I've got to be doing something wrong when baking..or when filling the pans. My cakes don't quiet come up to the top for me to "squash back" down while cooling. I'm going to add a bit more batter and see what I get. Right now I'm having a mental picture of what I'll get, and it isn't a pretty one!
I also have the large knife from Wilton, but I hate it! The blade bows over the cake instead of cutting through and I have an ugly level job. I love the little wire cutter one, and I'v asked a friend to help me make a large one just like it. Using a bread knife is okay as long as I can start with the little cutter to make the cuts around the outside first then finish with the bread knife.
I did watch Alton Brown the other day show how to level evenly with the 2 wooden slats to use as guides for the blade, of which was purchased at the hardware store...worth tyring!
post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by SquirrellyCakes


what you are actually doing is pressing down the cake and making it more dense. You are compacting it.



I love a really dense cake. I remember wedding cakes as I was growing up were very dense. I loved them. I requested a really dense wedding cake (as in the 60's & 70's) when I got married and was told quite frankly nobody does this anymore and that she would not do it. This was before I started decorating myself. This method also traps moisture. Some cakes this is a good thing, some it's not.

Quote:
Quote:

Commercial professional bakers always cool their cakes on a cooling rack that allows air to circulate all around the cake and then remove it to cool, again with air circulating all around it and level it with a serrated knife, like a bread knife as Dawn suggested. They are very careful not to exert any pressure on the cake when turning it out of the pan, so as not to affect the texture.



I always thought this was true myself, until recently. I watched a food network show last week where the large commercial-style bakery flipped the cakes over onto a solid rack (not a cooling rack- solid like a shelf), left them in the pan, upside down, to cool. They said they do this to get a really moist cake.

Quote:
Quote:

Generally commercial bakers never grease the sides of a cake pan, this allows the cake to support itself on the sides as it rises, so that the weight is well supported. They use a knife to loosen the edges before allowing the cake to cool. We grease the sides for one thing, so that we do not scratch the pans or get the crumbs that you get when you do not grease the sides. It does make it more difficult to remove the cake from the pan.



I try this method every once in awhile. I don't notice a difference in the cake itself, so I just don't see the sense in having to loosen the cake myself. Maybe because I use doctored mixes and not from scratch.

As Squirrelly said- it's all a matter of what you want your end result to be.... not what somebody else says is right or wrong. I like really dense, moist cakes. My method works for me. Which is why I always preface hints and tips with this is how "I" do it... I never state that it's the hard and fast rule and if you don't do it my way it's wrong. My way be be wrong for some, but not all. I will continue to press down on my cakes (while in the pan) because I love the results and my customers do, too.
post #23 of 37
Ever batter rises at a different rate and you get a different cooked volume from the same amount of batter, but different recipes. So the guidelines Wilton gives are really just that, it makes it tough to be accurate, doesn't it?
You are right, you need to get a tiny cut in there first and then, have your knife flat as you level. I usually do it in a couple of stages if the pan is wider than my knife.
Generally they recommend removing the cake from the pan to level it, but sometimes if the batter rose to just the right height, you can get away with doing it in the pan, but it is probably easier once it is removed because you can get a better eye level judgement.
Yes, they seem to be coming out with a lot of these dowel type contraptions for levelling and for ensuring that you can roll your fondant out to a certain thickness. Haven't tried any of them.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes
post #24 of 37
Haha, Dawn I have seen this done by commercial bakeries for some coffee type cakes, but not for the standard white type cakes used for weddings or the cakes they use for decorating. Don't know if the bakery you were watching the show about was doing it for all of its cakes or not.
But no, generally for the cakes that will be decorated, they do not do this, at least not if they are following the standard baking chemistry and baking proceedures. There is a very specific proceedure for cooling and levelling cakes that is pretty standard in the baking industry.
That might well account for why the tops of some of the pound cakes and coffee type cakes are uneven and a bit cracked on top though.
Some cakes must be left upside down in the pan to cool completely and by inverting them you are insuring that the bottom of the cake does not stick to the pan. An angel food cake is cooled completely like this, but elevated so that the top is not on any surface and compressed.
Yes, I do like some cakes to be dense too, but by dense I do not mean rubbery, I don't think you do either. And of course it does depend on the type of cake. Personally I am still on my life long search for a from scratch white cake that is light and fluffy. I know that for this type of cake, shortening is the best fat type to use and that buttermilk will lend that fluffy cake texture to a lot of recipes.
It is easier to make a good from scratch chocolate cake than a good white one.
Anyway, regarding levelling and cooling methods, I just point it out because generally the other methods of cooling would not be accepted in a baking or culinary school where the teacher would be able to immediately determine that the cake was compressed. It doesn't matter to me what method people use or are happy with.
Regarding the sides being greased, well on top of effecting how some cakes may rise or be supported, it also changes the outer texture of the sides of the cake, Again something that would be noted by an expert.
It is interesting that at one time a cake was judged to be good if it rose a certain amount in the centre and had a small even crown and now we are trying to avoid getting that crown at all because it interferes with our decorating.
Hugs Squirrelly Cakes
post #25 of 37
They were all different types of cakes. I can't for the life of me remember which show I was watching. Ironically, I don't watch that channel very often.
post #26 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by SquirrellyCakes

It is interesting that at one time a cake was judged to be good if it rose a certain amount in the centre and had a small even crown and now we are trying to avoid getting that crown at all because it interferes with our decorating.



Oh the good ole days icon_biggrin.gif ! The crown part is always so tasty too. Seems like all the sweetness and moisture is most concentrated there.
Birthdays are just nature's way of telling us to eat more cake.
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Birthdays are just nature's way of telling us to eat more cake.
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post #27 of 37
Unfortunately, we don't get the same food type shows or stations here Dawn, I wish I had access to every cooking show!
Haha Lisa, I bet you eat the tops of the muffins and cupcakes first too, haha! I agree, the top is the best part, even the texture., My hubby loves the levellings and I have to be quick to sneak them into a bag and into the freezer if I make cake balls. But I may be in luck now, because I made some dipped in milk chocolate and he loved them. Chocolate cake, mocha icing to glue them together and dipped in milk chocolate, does life get any better for a man er boy, haha!
My best laugh was when we were both at the family doctor and I was the one trying to diet and lose weight and was instead gaining, there he was, lost 15 pounds and the doctor congratulated him on his diet. So I couldn't keep my mouth shut, and suggested the doctor recommend the potato chip and cake diet to his male patients, haha! Hubby turned beet red and laughed and had to admit, I was right, haha!
Wasn't it on Seinfeld where they starting selling muffin tops and a year or so later, you could actually buy the pans? Must be a lot of folks that like that part!
I am with Dawn, I like a cake that you can sink your teeth into, one with substance and not some of these super spongey ones that make you eat twice as much as they are like eating air, haha! I tend to like the more muffiny textured cakes like carrot or banana or cakes like that. Yummy! Being on a diet, well my cake eating days are far away, but I can dream!
HUgs Squirrelly Cakes
post #28 of 37
Potato chip and cake diet...I could stick to that icon_wink.gif
Birthdays are just nature's way of telling us to eat more cake.
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Birthdays are just nature's way of telling us to eat more cake.
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post #29 of 37
Heehee, Lisa, I think it only works if you are male! Should I mention it to Mr. Cookieman?
Hugs Squirrelly
post #30 of 37
Yea where is Cookieman? I haven't seen him posting lately.
My KISS Method - Keep It Simple Shugga
www.geocities.com/puresugarbyriccarda
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My KISS Method - Keep It Simple Shugga
www.geocities.com/puresugarbyriccarda
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