If preventing a cake from doming sounds like an impossible challenge to you, please carry on reading!
I’ve encountered this problem so many times, that I become quite obsessed with getting my cakes straight. That was especially important when I was baking a cake for a client and had to achieve that perfectly straight edge and the flat top of my cake.
If you are just after taste, you are probably not too worried about a little dome in the middle of your cake, but for the rest of us, let me share with you my top tips on stopping your cake from doming.
Reducing the temperature of your oven
The idea here is that you reduce your oven temperature by about 10-20 Celsius, which helps to bake your cake a little slower. This in turn helps the cake batter to bake more evenly, but at some point the sides of your cake are going to be done much quicker than the middle (and the potential of cake doming might be still there).
I’ve done this before (together with my tip about dipping in the middle of the cake) and my cake didn’t doom too much.
Cake & sweet bakes recipes
Using cold baking strips
We are stepping up our game now by using clever baking strips, which are usually made from fabric or you can make your own version at home.
This genius idea, which works amazingly well, is based on the same principle as the dipping the middle of the cake in. You’ll be keeping the sides of the cake tin colder, so that the sides take longer to start baking, giving the middle of your cake chance to get started on the rising and baking.
The plus side is that you’ll also end up with beautifully moist cakes and without the crusty brown sides, that you normally get when you are baking cake.
How to use shop bought cake strips
Shop bought cake strips are actually fairly inexpensive and you can easily buy a set for $10-$15 (£10-13). If you are not into DIY, they are a great purchase and they will last you a long time.
Simply soak in the cold water about 10 minutes before you want to bake your cake. Squeeze out most of the water and wrap around your cake tin securely. Shop bought cake strips have adjustable length, which makes them very easy to use.
How to make your own cake strips
You will need a thick kitchen paper towels and tin foil
- Measure out the size of your baking tin and cut off the same length of paper towels
- Soak the paper towels in water
- Gently squeeze most of the water out
- Lay out tin foil (the same length as your paper towel)
- Fold the wet kitchen towel to the depth of your baking tin
- Place on the tin foil
- Wrap the tin foil around the wet paper towel and fold over
- Wrap the tin foil around your baking tin
- Secure the foil tin by folding it under the base of your baking tin
Creating a dip in the middle of the cake batter
The easiest thing you can do to prevent your cake from doming is to spread out the cake batter gently from the middle of the cake to the sides. You are basically making a dip in the cake batter. What will happen in the oven is quite magical.
Because you’ve created thicker sides of the cake, they will take longer for the heat to bake the sides than the middle (which is now dipped in). Over the course of the baking time, the temperatures will even out and so will the level of your cake. At the end of the baking time you should have a nicely straight cake, which should be level on the top.
What to do if you do get doomed cake anyway?
I know we are here to prevent this from happening, but what if your cake has already doomed? What can you do now?
Cool it down – upside down
Once your cake is baked, let it cool it down first on a wired rack for 5 minutes or so and then gently turn upside down. Don’t worry if the cake stays in the tin for now, in fact it will be better. As the steam and heat escapes it helps to level out the cake too.
If your cake taste amazingly, why worry about a little bit of a bumpy top? Who is going to notice, if you decorate with the a layer of fluffy icing or pipe a decorative frosting.
Turn it upside down
This is an old trick I picked up when I was working in a bakery. If the cake wasn’t absolutely perfect, it was turned upside down and decorated that way. It really doesn’t impact the flavour and nobody is going to notice that the cake is upside down (inside), but they will love the straight top!
Make a feature out of it
O.K if your cake has domed in the middle or even towards one side, why not turn it into something (e.g. decoration) on purpose? I once ended up making a domed cake into a woodland theme, where the middle of the forest was on the hill! I probably would have had to make that ‘hill’ with krispie treats or more fondant, but this way there was just a delicious sponge cake underneath!
Cut it off
I know that this is an obvious one, but I’ve listened to many of my students, who were genuinely distressed that they couldn’t get a level cake and didn’t realised that many professional cake makers, just level the cakes by cutting the tops with a sharp knife or a string.
Nobody is perfect, so if this is your only option, don’t worry, just go for it! If you end up with too many cake cut offs, you can always make them into a cake pops!