Stripping for success
Normally a dome is the quaint hallmark of a homemade cake - and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But if your baking agenda is to cover a cake in fondant or create multiple layers then you need a cake that is flat on top.
One way to achieve this is to [simply] level off your cake.
Use a serrated knife and a steady eye to lop off the offending hump, or if you like baking toys [guilty, your Honour], grab yourself a cake leveller. (Cake off cuts can easily be frozen for later use in trifle or cake pops.)
But if you want to bake a perfectly flat cake from the outset, you really should think about stripping.
I’ve read about cake strips on a few forums and tried making my own once by soaking tea towels in water, wringing them out and then laying them on foil. I folded it up to make a pudgy strip to wrap around my cake tin and awkwardly tied it in place with kitchen string. It was fiddly and tedious. Naturally my initial enthusiasm waned when it came to bake the next cake.
The Wilton Bake Even Strips have been winking at me for a while at my local cake decorating shop. Knowing I had a special cake order on the way I thought I’d give them a go and see if they really did prevent cracks and create a smooth, even top.
Preparation was simple – soak them in water, squeeze out the excess by running the strip between two fingers and then wrap it around your cake tin and secure with the nifty little pin.
I followed my own baking advice and set my oven to no fan and a lower baking temperature. I used a lower shelf and baked the cake a little longer than the specified recipe (this combination alone generally ensures that the cake doesn’t crack for me).
They say that seeing is believing, so here’s the final baked result - no dome! What’s more, the edges were smooth with no noticeable crust as sometimes happens with cakes.
I was astonished. They really did work! I didn't have to trim anything off before I torted it!
Apparently it’s all about equalising the temperature that the cake bakes at. Without strips the edges of the cake cook faster than the middle. The moistened cake strips insulate the cake, preventing high and low spots and also limits the degree of crusting on the edge of the cake.
Well, however it works, I’m convinced!
I’m all for using a secret weapon when the occasion demands. In my wardrobe you might find shape-wear to smooth out my own Rubenesque bumps but in my baking cupboard, you’ll definitely find baking strips.
THE FINE PRINT
This is an un-solicited review of a product purchased by Di-licious and is written in the interest of sharing baking knowledge and experiences with Di-licious Cupcakes readers.
Di-licious has not received any payment or merchandise-in-kind for this product review.