When baking cake layers, I highly suggest using baking strips. Baking strips are used in order to get more even heating while baking. They are soaked in water and placed around the pan, which will prevent the edges from heating up much faster than the center of the cake. This will result in a flatter cake top, less cracking, and the edges won’t be brown and dry. This is why I use baking strips for even cake layers! And I feel it is especially important at high altitudes. Below you can see the difference between a cake layer that used a baking strip, and one that did not.
Baking strips are relatively inexpensive and you can find them at many big stores (Amazon, Walmart, Target, etc.). The strip is adjustable and available in a variety of sizes so you have the best fit for your cake pan. I typically use the 8 inch ones the most, which I can size down to fit a 6 inch pan as well. I have also tried a variety of brands which all seemed to work. Pick the baking strip that will work best for you.
For the best results, be sure to follow the instructions and soak them according to the directions. I try to make it my first step when baking a cake. I will get out a bowl and place all of them in there to soak while I am mixing the batter. Then they will be ready by the time you have the cake batter in the pans. After placing the strips around the pan, make sure there isn’t any extra fabric hanging down that can touch the oven rack. This can cause it to discolor more and is not good for the strip. Make sure to fasten the end well or tuck in any extra fabric.
Keep in mind that the baking strip is fabric and subjected to high heat often. That means they will not last forever! I learned that the hard way. All of a sudden I was having issues with domed tops that were cracking with my normal recipe. My baking strips weren’t visibly burnt or in rough shape, but they had lost their effectiveness. I replaced my baking strips, and then everything was good again! The baking strips will last for awhile, especially if you are not baking cakes all the time. But just keep in mind that it won’t be forever!
I hope this information was helpful! Baking strips are an easy way to get more even cake layers. If you haven’t tried them before, you will see a huge improvement with your cake layers once you start using them!