How to Bake a Cake so the Middle Doesn't Bubble Up

by Carol Butler

Bubbles are what makes a cake light and airy, but they can also get in the way when you bake a layer cake, causing the cake to rise too high and form uneven layers. Spreading the batter from the middle of the pan toward the edges, tapping your cake pans on the counter before baking and proper oven temperature -- all are tricks to help ensure even rising. However, on small round cake pans, the edges always cook faster than the center, sometimes causing the uncooked batter to form a dome shape. Use a standard baker's tip to keep your cake layers flat and easy to stack and frost.

Measure the outside diameter and the height of your baking pans, using a tape measure to wrap around your cake pans. Write down your measurements.

Mark the measured length and width of the pans on a cotton towel using the measuring tape and a marker. The color of the towel doesn’t matter, but choose a marker that will show up on the cloth. Use the finished edges of the bottom, top or sides of the towel so you don’t have to sew a hem. Mark out a cutting line with the straight-edged guidance of a ruler or T-square. Repeat this process so you have enough strips marked out for each cake pan.

Cut out the strips using scissors on a hard surface such as a tabletop.

Soak the towel strips in cold water. Wring out the excess water and lay flat so the edges of your towel don't curl.

Wrap the wet towel strips around the outside edges of your filled cake pans before baking. Fasten the strips snugly with the safety pins by attaching two pins, evenly spaced, to the ends of each strip.

Tap the bottom of each pan lightly at least once on the countertop to release the air bubbles and promote even rising. Bake the cake as directed by the recipe.

Remove the towel strips after the cake has finished baking and the pans have cooled; the safety pins will be hot when first coming out of the oven. Remove the safety pins before you wash and dry your towel strips. You can use the strips again the next time you bake a layer cake.

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Items you will need

  • Measuring tape
  • Marker
  • Cotton bath towel
  • Ruler or T-square
  • Scissors
  • 4 Safety pins


  • Invest in an oven thermometer to ensure your oven maintains the desired temperature. Correct and even temperature is crucial to even cake rising.
  • Baking strips made from thick cotton bath towels will last longer without unraveling than thin kitchen towels.


  • No peeking! Opening the oven during the first 80 percent of your baking time will cause fluctuations in temperature, which affects the even rising of your cake. Instead, use the oven light to check on your cake.
  • Polar fleece or other synthetic fabric can melt in a hot oven and is not suitable for making baking strips.

About the Author

For more than 10 years, Carol Butler has run a small, off-grid furniture business with her husband and is a regular contributor to the Edible community of magazines. As staff writer for RichLife Advisors, she covers financial planning and other industry-related topics. She holds a B.F.A. in theater arts.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images