How to Bake Perfect Cakes (Baking Level Cakes)

Baking level cakes
A few years ago a friend of mine taught me this great trick for baking level cakes, and if gives you a perfect cake every time!  I really hate it when you bake a cake and end up having to cut so much of it off to make it level, so I was super excited to learn this simple solution!
Here’s what you’ll need:
An old hand towel
Safety pins or paperclips
Start by cutting the towel into strips about 1 1/2-2″ thick, basically the width of your pans.
Next run the towel strips under cold water and lightly ring them out.  You don’t want them to be dripping wet but you also don’t want them to dry out too fast.
Then wrap the wet strips around your cake pans.  The size of the pan will determine how many strips you have to use.  I have to use 2 strips for my larger cake pans, so I just overlap them and pin them with a safety pin.
Connect the ends together and secure them with a safety pin or a large paperclip.  The towel should be tight around the pan so that it doesn’t fall off in the oven.
Place the cake pans in the oven and bake them as you normally would.  I like to set my cake pans on a cookie sheet so that the towels aren’t sitting right on the hot oven racks.
The strips of cold towels will keep the temperature of the pans cooler which keeps the outer rim of the cakes from cooking too quickly.  This allows the cakes to cook more evenly.
And voila!  Just like that you have a perfectly level cake to work with!
This is such a simple tip but it saves me from having to eat throw out all the uneven cake tops!  Starting with perfectly level cakes makes it much easier to end up with perfect results like this:
I made this cake for a local fundraiser.


About the Author

"Hi I'm Anna! Welcome to Ask Anna where I love to answer your household questions! I have always loved to clean, organize and decorate and this blog is a fun way for me to help you love it too! I am a busy mom of a beautiful little girl and I'm married to the love of my life. Together we fill our days with projects , laughter and love. I serve an incredible God and overall I'd say I'm truly blessed!"

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  1. Does this work for 9X13 pans as well?

    • I’ve never tried it but I think it’s worth a shot! Basically you just want to cool down the outsides so that the cake bakes evenly. Good luck!


    • This does work for a 9×13 pan. Wilton makes what is called “bake even strips” that you can purchase that are the same thing, but a little nicer than a towel. I have used them on 6″, 8″, 9″, 10″, 16″ round pans, heart shaped pans, and 9×13. It is fantastic!

  2. WOW! I am giong to try this on a cake I have to make this afternoon. Amazing!

  3. Christina says:

    Wow! I wish I would have known this a week ago BEFORE I baked a wedding cake! My family loves the scraps, but I’d rather not have to level them off. Thanks for the amazing tip!

  4. I did this trick and they nearly caught on fire!!! Tea towels are not made to withstand this type of heat. Please be so careful. I even soaked them in cold water but they were dry and charred. Wilton makes the strips in heat resistant material. They are a little costly but worth the peace of mind.

    • Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t use tea towels. The towels I used were very thick dish towels and they weren’t even that hot when I took them out of the oven.


      • Maybe it’s because I’m from New Zealand… but what’s the difference between a tea towel and a dish towel??? We use the terms interchangeably here!

      • I think tea towels are much thinner. Maybe it would be better for me to say cut up an old hand towel from the bathroom. It just needs to be a thicker-type towel. :)

  5. This is amazing! to be honnest, I really didn’t believe it would work, but it did! My cakes were perfect!! I did not have to trim anything off the top. I did have a few complaints that there wer no cake scraps to nibble on though. Thankyou!!!!

  6. i’ve been looking for a tip like this one for years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    love you 😉

  7. I’m surprise cake makers don’t know this…I took cake classes from michaels 14 yrs ago…I bought their strips…that you wrap around the cake pans…you wet them the time I paid around 7 dollars…I love it…still use it :)

    • I didn’t even know they made those! That’s a great solution for anyone that doesn’t want to use the towels.

  8. Hello!

    I have tried this and it’s worked wonders. Also, I usually turn the oven to just 325*F and watch it closely, about 35-40 minutes at 325* allows the entire cake to cook at the same time. Just tried this for a trial run for my son’s 3rd birthday party on Saturday!

  9. Swanky Diva says:

    Yes, it worked!!! Thank you for the idea. I just baked an angel food – pineapple cake at 7 am on a Sunday – but I have a good excuse: I am prego and Zoey wanted it; HA HA blame it on the pregnancy cravings as long as possible!
    I did use a bathroom handtowel as suggested. Cake is gorgeous!!!

  10. Michelle Womack says:

    I use this technique and love it. I also flip my cakes upside down to cool. That will level off any remaining high spots. If you are using a really large pan, I would still put the cake pin in the middle to help with even cooking.

  11. Angela Shadduck says:

    I might just have to give this a try. When I baked professionally for weddings I used the Wilton ones and they worked great but they got lost. Want another tip from my grandmother (who did wedding cakes for over 35 years) is to make cake goo to coat your pans. Equal parts flour, shortening, and oil. mix it once and it will last for ever (1 cup or a 1/2 cup equal parts depending on how many cakes you normally make. Does not need to be refrigerated and will last forever. So much easier than greasing and flouring pans.

  12. Rachel O says:

    Thank you so much for this tip. I am in a temp rental inbetween homes and the oven is horrid. There is a difference of 20oC between the high and low of the oven eg if you set the oven to 180oC it won’t turn on to heat up until 160oC and then will not switch off till 200oC. This is basically the temp of a slow and hot oven. I find that at least I am able to cook a cake (not much else) without it cremating the bottom and sides and leaving the middle wet.
    Once again thanks you have saved my sanity.

    • I must try this. I always have to use my cake leveler to create the flat cake, but my daughter loves the cake “pancakes”. I have also read that reducing the temp by 25 degrees will also help. So… next time I will try the towels and a 25 degree reduction and hopefully have beautifully flat cakes:)

  13. Kristen says:

    My grandmother taught me this trick! It works great!!

  14. And to think I almost bought the metallic looking ones they sell with the cake decorating section of craft stores!

  15. Marlene Waldbauer says:

    Thank you for the tip of wet towel strips around the cake pans. I will give it a try. I too serve an awesome God.

  16. Anna,may I still place a layer on 2nd rack? I bake 2 layers on 1st rack third layer on 2nd rack.

  17. Shirley Wilson says:

    I am thankful for this site and find it very inspirational. I love to homemake but due to factors in my life I find cleaning, organizing my home a challenge. I have many resources to have a beautiful and clean home, but my time is divided by other things. I hope to make time and be spiritually inspired by such a beautiful website that you have. I want to say a “special thank you”
    from, swilson

  18. Just tried this tip and disaster. 8 inch tin and used a hand towel cut into a strip.. Browned in the centre no colour on outside and it sank and was soggy around the outside! !!!!!! Was flat though……

  19. catlady says:

    Why did I take 40 years baking to learn that? all my cakes loose the crown now.. thanks for post.

  20. Anna thank u so much. It feels so good to try something out for the first time and it works out perfect. This has made my baking life so much easier. Thank you

  21. Hello Anna,
    I came across your website and was truly amazed, I tried it on a 14×2 square cake pan and the towel kept touching the back of the oven, I’M GOING TO KEEP TRYING UNTIL i GET IT RIGHT! WHY NOT SAVE MONEY & GO THE LESS EXSPENSIVE WAY.

  22. Can you use the strips over again? And do you have to use a cookie sheet to set the cake pans on? I do not have cookie sheets large enough for my some of my pans. Thanks!

    • Yes you can use the strips over and over again, I’ve had mine for years! And no you don’t have to use the cookie sheet, it just makes it easier to take them all out of the oven at once. :)

  23. Great I dear

  24. You can achieve the very same result, so much easier just by lowering the oven temperature by 25 degrees. Bake at 325 instead of 350 for the recommended time.

  25. Roseanna S. says:

    Oh my stars!! it worked!! My grandson’s layered birthday is level all across. This is a tip I will always be using from now on, thank you so much!!!

  26. Wow! This is really nice , does it work for number cake tins?

  27. Brilliant to, Anna. Thanks so much for taking the time to share that with us.

  28. This is the most wallet-friendly trick, especially for an amateur baker (like me).

    Thanks Anna (:

  29. Wow! I just made dome cake last week.
    Anna, Do I need to reduce temperature and use this trick in the same time?
    if I need to, How many degree?

    Thank you so much :)

    • Bethany Davis says:

      Hi, I’m Anna’s assistant, Bethany. Just bake the cakes as you normally would and make sure you soak the cloths well. Hope this helps! :)

  30. Just tried this technique with a 9″ (23cm) round cake. Usually the sides always cook quicker than the middle in my oven even at 150 deg. C. I used an old bathroom hand towel as thicker than a tea towel, as suggested above. It worked a treat & I will definitely do this again! Thank you!