The Secret To A Perfectly Round Layer Cake Is A Rectangular Sheet Pan

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There's something magical about a layer cake. You cut into that neatly constructed tower of fluff and frosting, and the slice looks so pretty you almost don't want to eat it. If you've ever felt too intimidated to actually bake one, you're not alone. It can be a daunting task to take on. What if one of the layers doesn't turn out right, or they all rise unevenly, or the finished product looks tragically lopsided?

When it comes to making this tiered stack of sweetness, it doesn't necessarily seem like a cakewalk. There's a lot to get right and even more that could go wrong. But don't worry; you don't have to be a professional pastry chef to construct an aesthetically pleasing round layer cake — you should just take a tip from one.

There's a simple way to get those cake layers perfectly circular and ensure your sugary masterpiece presents itself beautifully.

To construct a round layer cake, let's look to the pros at Milk Bar

You know the famed bakery Milk Bar for its iconic towering round cakes, covered in colorful icing, cookie dough pieces, and sprinkles galore. Hard to believe they create those tall cylindrical beauties with a flat rectangular pan, right? Yet, their signature Birthday Cake recipe calls for one quarter sheet pan.

Luckily, Milk Bar walks us through how the magic is done. After making the cake batter, their instructions are to spray or line the sheet pan with parchment paper and spread the batter evenly into the pan. Once the rectangular cake is baked and cooled, it's time to assemble: the first step is to simply invert the cake onto a piece of parchment paper.

From there, a cake ring is used to stamp out two circular cakes (alternatively, you can stencil the shapes or use a plate to trace and cut the circles out with a knife). These two circles become the top two layers of the cake, and the remaining cake scraps are then molded to create the bottom layer. And that's your whole tiered cake, all from one pan.

Why use a sheet pan instead of circular?

You'd think using circular pans to bake your cake layers would make more sense; it's already in the desired shape, after all. And plenty of people build their layer cakes this way successfully. So why choose to bake your cake in a sheet pan rather than in a circular one?

Molly Gilbert, the author of the cookbook "Sheet Pan Sweets", says that there are three main benefits to using a sheet pan. First, they hold more volume — so you can bake more cake at once rather than having to use multiple pans. Second, because of the large surface area and the fact that sheet pans are more shallow, the cakes bake more quicker. And third, as a result, sheet pans also allow for faster cooling times. So overall the whole process is quicker and more efficient.

What about shaping them? According to Preppy Kitchen, many times cakes will develop domes when you bake them in circular pans, and it'll be up to you to even them out so that they stack well. With a sheet pan, you're cutting out that potential issue. The cake will bake in an even layer and come out in one uniform slab for you to design and assemble into that perfectly round layer cake.