On the level

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Wilton Bake Even Strips

I thought I’d pass along a rave review for a new product that my mom gave me a few weeks ago:

One of the tastiest parts about baking at home is eating the leftovers created from leveling a cake. Warm, moist – and who’s gonna notice a couple of spoonfuls of frosting missing from the stand mixer bowl?

When you’re baking for profit, that leftover cake that you look forward to is suddenly a waste – and there’s just too much to justify nibbling on for a snack. Cake truffles are an excellent way to put to use left-over cake created from leveling but how about not having to waste so much to begin with?

Baking a cake in my oven at home is very different than the days of baking in the commercial convection ovens in my parents’ bakery. I’ve always blamed my oven for cooking the edges of the cake too quickly and causing the center to rise into the shape of the Astrodome. I knew wasn’t the pans or the distribution of the batter – it had to be the oven. The only thing I could do was score a nifty little cake-leveler from Mom and deal with it – then she gave me a tool to prevent the problem rather than just treat it: Wilton Bake Even Strips.

Mom saw the Bake Even Strips in a local craft store and picked up a couple of the packages since they were on sale. You wet the strips, wrap them around your cake pan, and then bake your cake. The wet strips are supposed to prevent “Astrodome Syndrome” by protecting the edges of the cake from the heat longer, resulting in an evenly-baked and, therefore, more level cake. I was skeptical, certain that the only thing that would solve my problem was a fancy new oven. I gave the baking strips a whirl when I made Dulce de Choco-leche Cake for Mother’s Day and boy, was I surprised! The cakes were level – smooth, flat, even. Darn-near perfect.

I didn’t have my camera handy at the time (shame on me!) but I whipped up another two-layer cake for the freezer and baked one pan “naked” and the other with the Bake Even strip (I have the small strips which fit 8-9 inch cake pans). I answered the phone while spooning out the batter and couldn’t remember which pan got the last scoop. I was too lazy to pull the scale out of the cabinet 4 feet away so I guessed – and guess wrong. The cake on the left actually has 1/2 cup more batter than the Astrodome cake. Ooops – totally not the point, though 🙂

If you have a decent oven you probably won’t even think twice about this gadget. But if you’re oven is like mine and refuses to play nice when it comes to baking cakes (and your husband won’t let you drop $3000+ on a Blodgett), they’re a cheap ($8) and nifty way to alleviate some frustration.

13 comments… add one
  • I had seen these before in the store and never really looked at them closely. They looked like they worked fantastic for you. I too have a crappy oven, so this might be a good purchase for me.

  • Ooh I will have to try those! The cake I made the other day totally had the dome going on. It also turned really dark on the outside because I used a dark non-stick pan (I wish I hadn’t registered for all non-stick stuff in retrospect but I knew nothing about baking then!) My MIL has a convection oven that makes beautiful desserts, I’m so jealous of her!

  • Susan

    Shawnda, these strips are the greatest invention. Mine are all twisted and scorched, but have never set the house on fire. : )
    A very nice post. New tricks and gadgets are very helpful for the home baker. I always wondered why my cake layers looked like Hell until I got these strips. Thanks for visiting my blog!

  • I have never seen these! And – I am all about gadgets. Thanks!

  • Michelle

    That is neato! I have had that problem and it drives me nuts. This is going to be nice to have to lessen the amount of cake I will eat after leveling a cake. LOL


  • Gerry

    Thanks for telling us your experience with the strips. I am thinking of buying some for myself. What cake is that that you have baked in the picture? It looks very chocolatey and still very moist!

  • Gerry – that’s probably the Hershey’s Perfect Chocolate Cake.

  • Aspen Earnhart

    Thanks for the pictures, really helps send the message of how well they work!!

  • Crystal

    I wonder……..I know there are recipies that call for putting your pan of (whatever) into a larger pan of water for baking. Could that possibly work as a way to prevent the doming as well? With a hubby who has been jobless for a year since returning from Iraq (yes, sometimes our soldiers come back to a real shaft), I’m not able to justify even the $8 for this nifty things, so if you grew up in a bakery, what do you think of this idea?

    • A water bath is good for cheesecake, creme brulee, and other custardy type things but I wouldn’t bake a cake in it. Growing up, my mom folded paper towels into 2-3 inch strips (will depend on the height of your pan), wet them, and then wrapped them in foil. She got the same effect that the Bake Even strips give.

  • Breinna

    Can you use these on non-rounded pans?

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