Basics #17: Levelling & Torting Cake

You’ll want to venture into levelling and torting cakes if you want to take your cake decorating  to the next level. (See what  I did there?)


Levelling a cake simply removes the dome from the top of a cake to give you a perfectly flat surface to stack and ice. Torting involves splitting a cake layer into two or more layers, which you will want to do if the original cake layer is thick. Having thin, even layers not only looks more impressive, but having more layers overall also gives you more opportunities to try out different and complementing fillings in one cake.

Slicing a cake horizontally can be tricky, but depending on the tools you have and your level of confidence, it is completely doable. Plus, I share my own (almost) foolproof method for levelling/torting cakes with a knife.

For the tools you’ll need, you have two options. Firstly, the most obvious tool for the job is a cake leveller, which does exactly that. It usually looks like a wire hanger or a hacksaw except the horizontal bar at the bottom is a very thin cutting wire. You adjust the wire to the desire height and simply drag the leveller across the cake to make the slice.

Now, if you don’t want to spend on a specialist cake tool that does only one job, then your second option is to get a long thin knife with a serrated edge. These knives are usually sold as bread knives because the serrations or teeth help them to cut through the crumb structure of breads (and cakes!) cleanly.

If you’re feeling confident, you can certainly freehand your cake slicing. What usually helps immensely for freehand slicing is a turntable because it allows you to turn the cake as you saw without having to move the knife too much. You’re more likely to get a level slice that way.

(Here’s a video of how to use a cake leveller and a serrated knife.)

And finally, on to leveling/torting if you’re like me and not confident at making perfectly flat slices. So what do you do? Find yourself a guide.

I usually use a plate to help position my knife at the right height. I then prop up my cake with either several cake boards or more plates.


I begin my sawing motion on the edge of the plate and then work my way a little bit in to the cake.


I’m pretty sure I’m not able to maintain that height all the way to other end of the cake, so I usually stop cutting about a quarter way into the cake. I remove the knife, turn the cake 90 degrees, and make a similar incision using the plate to guide the knife. Repeat until you’ve completed the round.

By now, the cake should be more or less cut all the way through, so just running your knife through the cuts you’ve already made to finish off cutting through the middle. Carefully transfer the new layer onto a plate or serving board, or if you’re levelling, just remove the excess cake.


Ta-dah! You’ve successfully levelled/torted your cake!


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