How to Slice Cake Layers

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Many people slice cake layers by sawing with the knife. However that back-and-forth motion often leads to jagged, uneven layers. There are many awkward gadgets out there for sawing cake when the truth is, all that’s needed is a long serrated knife, a turntable, and a different approach.


How to Slice Cake Layers by Wicked Goodies

With this method, don’t saw but instead push a serrated knife steadily sideways through a cake while turning the cake continuously on a wheel.

That way, the friction of the turning cake against the teeth of the knife drives the cut. The cut radiates inward, first encircling the cake then spiraling towards center. As long as the knife is held steady, this method yields nice clean slices.

My cakes, before slicing and filling, are 3-4” high because I bake them in deep cake pans that double as molds for cake filling. Read my tutorial on how to fill cakes for more on that topic.

I often use a heating core for larger sized cakes. As for the knife, I recommend this one or an equivalent serrated knife with a blade that is long, wide, and thin.

Always begin by first removing the domed top of the cake (unless a domed cake shape is desired).

How to Slice Cake Layers - Wicked Goodies

Step #1: Place the cake on a turntable. With one hand, position the knife blade at the top edge of the cake (the base of the dome). With the other hand, grip the top of the cake and spin it on the wheel so that the teeth of the knife cut just through the surface of the cake (no deeper). The idea is to trace the intended cut by carving a groove all the way around the side of the cake. That groove will help guide the knife in the next step.

How to Slice Cake Layers - Wicked Goodies

Step #2: Continue turning the cake while gently pushing the knife towards center, following the line of the groove. Since cake is soft, the blade should move through it with ease as long as the cake remains in motion. Once the blade reaches center, there is a feeling of release as the cut is complete. Use the knife like a spatula at this point to remove the cake top.

How to Slice Cake Layers - Wicked Goodies

Now you have a cake top. Follow this link to read my tutorial on what to do with leftover cake tops.

How to Slice Cake Layers - Wicked Goodies

Repeat the same process on the remaining slices.

How to Slice Cake Layers - Wicked Goodies

To maneuver large cake layers without breaking them, slide them onto cardboard circles of equal or greater size.

Now you see how this method yields nice even layers.
How to Slice Cake Layers - Wicked Goodies

Disclaimer: Always remain cautious of your opposite hand while slicing cake. Serrated knives can cause injury.

How to Slice Cake Layers
To store or freeze pre-sliced cake layers, layer them between pieces of parchment paper and seal them well.

For best results, proceed by filling and assembling the cake in its pan using this layer cake filling method:

How to Fill Cakes by Wicked Goodies

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How to Use Wood Dowels in Stacked Cakes

5 clever ways to use leftover cake by Wicked Goodies

Pin this tutorial Cake Slicing Tutorial by Wicked Goodies

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How to Slice Cake Layers — 22 Comments

  1. I have a half sheet cake that I would like to cut to make two layers so that I can fill it. This is an intimidating task. Any pointers fir large rectangular cakes? PS- I love your e-book and was so happy I purchased it. I will be trying out your smooth buttercream method on this cake.

    • Amanda,
      For slicing a half sheet cake into layers, I recommend using this same technique demonstrated above. With square cakes, the impulse is always to saw but this method tends to yield better results no matter what the shape/size of the cake.

      With a half sheet sized cake, it’s important to slide a large piece of cardboard under the layers when you maneuver them around. Don’t attempt to pick them up with your hands.

      I’m so glad to hear you grabbed a copy of the buttercream book! Once you’ve had a chance to experiment, I would love to hear your feedback and see photos of your results! Your fellow readers will also appreciate your input so I encourage you to please post about your adventures on the buttercream book page. It would be so awesome to see what you come up with! Happy frosting!

  2. I’ve only just found your site.
    You are Frickin Fantastic.
    Thank you so much for all your posts, they are incredibly helpful.


  3. Wow! There is so much good and practical information on this site that I don’t know what to read first. So glad that I found this!

  4. I love your helpful informationon you site..ive tried fondant and not satisfyed with quality of marshmallow fondant or taste of regular im giving modeling choc Im hoping it was sent from the cake decorating gods. I am puchasing your ebook..yahh and hopefully gonna hit spot on with your all butter icing. But the last concern I have is my cake recipes im not finding many I can use that will hold up to carving, decorating, and sometimes even stacking, and I use uour method also withe the wooden dowels and boards,, I was wondering if you had a go to place to find cake recipes. Any help at all there would be greatly appreciated,, I have a great choc that stands the test,, its basically yellow I have my issues with,,, thanks in advace sorry I pry your knowledge lol

  5. Your website is filled with GREAT tips. thank goodness for people like you willing to share. Question: Do you offer your cake recipies anywhere? I would like to have recipies that will allow my cakes to bake super tall in the pan such as yours. I do use 3″ pans, but my recipies dont allow for enough batter to get my cakes to rise so tall.
    B. Also do you know the best way to convert the recipes to allow for differnt pan sizes?? I have scoured the internet and this issue has not been addressed as far as I can tell. A future tutorial suggestion for you? You would get hundreds of hits…like I said, this has not been addressed yet in the interwebs. Thanks again….Nadine

    • Nadine, I’m more accustomed to doing those types of computations by hand with the help of this cooking volume converter. I haven’t tried it before but there is this cake app called the CakeOmeter, which scales the entire recipe for you.

      I don’t have any cake recipes up on this website but I can tell you that I get decent results using pound cake. The recipe that I use for is straight out of The Cake Bible. It’s a very sturdy type of cake so it can be baked at higher heights. That’s what I used in the video in this tutorial. Baking big cakes like that can lead to dryness however so my trick to combating that is to soak each cake layer with simple syrup during assembly. Also, it’s important to make sure your baking powder is fresh as that will help with the rise.

  6. I have seen many people that suggest using the cone, exactly how do you use it without leaving a hole in your cake, I noticed your have cake where the cone would have been but have noticed a circle shape in center of cake.what do you do?

    Thank you

    Dee Terra

    • You put some batter into the cone as well and then once the cake is cool, you pop out that cone of cake and plug it into the hole. It’s pretty neat how well it works. Then you can see a circle of cake when you slice horizontally to make layers but that gets hidden once the whole cake is assembled. Just remember to grease and flour the cone thoroughly before using it.

  7. When you cut layer like that use a CUT PROOF GLOVE, been layering cake for over 35 years in large Hotels & Casinos and seen many hands cut from not wearing a CUT PROOF GLOVE. Being a Exec.Pastry Chef if the cooks did not wear the glove they was written up.

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