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How to Serve a Cake—Without the Mess

Learn how to cut a cake--and do it well. From sticky cakes to layer cakes, here is how to best serve a cake to guests without the mess and the hassle.

By
Bruce and Jeanne Lubin,
March 8, 2017

How to Serve a Cake—Without the Mess

Keep Cutting Knives Clean

To keep the frosting from sticking to your knife as you cut the cake, dip your knife into a glass of hot water between each cut. It will also keep cake crumbling to a minimum.

Cutting Cake without a Knife

If you’ve got a delicate cake that will fall apart and stick to the knife when you cut it, use dental floss—yes, dental floss—to slice it. Hold the floss tight and give it a slight sawing motion as you move it down to cut through the cake.

What to Do if You Can’t Get Your Cake out of the Pan

Your beautiful cake is perfect except for one thing—you can’t get it out of the pan! Lay out a sheet of wax paper and gently turn the whole thing over. Next, put a dish towel over the pan and press it with a hot steam iron. After a few minutes the pan should be ready for liftoff.

Another Way to Unstick Stuck Cakes

The bad news is that your cake is stuck to the pan. The good news is that it’s easy to get it out intact—you just need to heat up the bottom of the pan by submerging it in hot water. Once the pan heats back up, use a knife to easily dislodge your still-perfect cake.

See also: 10 Basics of Good Home Cooking

Maximize Every Morsel of a Round Cake

Got a round cake to serve for dessert? Rather than cutting long messy slices, try this carving technique to get the most out of your star attraction: Cut a ring around the cake to create a smaller cake at the center. Slice the outer ring into rectangular wedges, and serve these icing-heavy pieces to the kids. Then slice the inner circle as you normally would (into wedges like a pizza); serves these daintier slices to the grown-ups.

What to Do if Your Layer Cake Starts Slipping

You decided to attempt a three-layer cake, and can’t believe how great it looks. The problem? The layers are sliding so much that it’s starting to look like a Jenga game waiting to topple over. Fix by cutting two straws so they’re just shorter than the height of the cake, then insert and frost right over them (use four straws if it’s really shaky). If anyone notices your cheat, they’ll just be impressed!

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Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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