A few years back I wrote a post called My Best Baking Tips, you can find it by clicking here . After years of cake baking classes I thought I had written the perfect list of tips...but not so! When I attended cooking classes at King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center last year, I learned another great tip - and it's time I passed it along to you, just in case you don't already know!
This, my friends, is a Cake Strip. I purchased a package of them at King Arthur Flour, but you can find them in just about any baking store and online here and here. They are made of cloth, have a velcro closure and are meant to be soaked in water (notice the warning on the strip in the pic! Danger Will Robinson...anyone remember where that is from?? Anyone? Buehler??) and then put around the outside of your filled cake pan. Since the outside of the cake pan heats up faster than the center, the cake cooks faster along the outside, which creates a domed cake top. If you've watched Cake Boss then you know a domed cake is NOT a good thing! Nope, cakes are meant to be flat on top - who knew?!? As the cake pan heats up, having the wet strip around the outside allows for it to heat up slowly, giving the center of the cake time to catch up.
Cake Strips come in a package of two, but I lost one, can't find it anywhere. The mister probably took it just to annoy me. I decided to do a little experiment with a strip of dish towel soaked in water...and it works just as well as the fancy-schmancy Cake Strips!
Just remember to soak the strips in water first - or else you might have a little fire in the oven! That would be bad. I attached the dish towel strip with a binder clip but a safety pin or a T-pin works just as well.
I made a three layer cake and put the two different cake strips around two of the pans. The 3rd cake pan didn't get a strip because it's an "air-insulated" cake pan and doesn't need any help baking a flat cake. IF you can find this kind of cake pan, it's the one to buy - it always produces a great, flat top. (It's the one in the back of the picture - notice how thick the sides of the cake pan are.)