When I was in high school I had the privilege of learning a few neat cake baking tips from a cake maker. Since I was making a cake for our son's 4th birthday this week, I thought I would share one of them with you.
This tip was originally shared so cakes would end up nice and level for making layer cakes or for when you want to turn a cake over on a board (making the bottom the top), and you don't want your cake to be wobbly. I also use it when I want to keep my cake in the pan, unless I want it to be somewhat mounded. It just makes for a nice level cake.
What you will need are some strips of cotton. The thicker the better. I just used an old white undershirt that I cut into strips and folded to get more thickness. Someday I hope to make time to buy a bit of cotton fabric, fold it nice and thick, and sew it so it won't unfold . . . but for now strip of shirt will work.
You will want to get these strips nice and wet. Then you just wrap them around the outside of your pan, nice and tight, and safety pin them in place. (I like to place my cake pan on a cookie sheet while baking to keep the strips from sliding off - which is very frustrating if they do this when you are trying to put the cake in the oven.)
The science behind this tip is that the wet strips will keep the outside of the pan cool so that the edge of the cake doesn't bake faster than the middle - this is what causes the mounding of cakes when they are baked. (I bet this trick would work too if you like your brownies to be gooey and don't like the chewier edge pieces.)
Here is a picture of my cake after it came out of the oven. I will admit, mine isn't perfectly flat, but I blame that on inadequate strips of fabric. If I took the time to sew some that were nice and thick with the same thickness all around, I'm sure it would make even more of a difference. Even so, what I have works wonders.
Here is a picture of the cake all decorated. It is nice to not have to turn a cake upside down to get a flat surface to decorate!