The Unconventional Cake Slicing Method For Clean, Party-Worthy Cuts

Picture this: It's your birthday, and it's time to cut the cake. You've waited patiently as your friends sang to you in dissonant keys, you've blown out the candles, and you've wished for all your dreams to come true. But before your deepest desires can take effect, the unwritten laws of the birthday tradition place a knife in your hand and tells you to cut the first slice. Unless you're one of the precious few skilled in this arena, you'll probably make a mess out of the seemingly simple task, producing a decimated mound of cake and frosting instead of a clean triangle, to the silent embarrassment of everyone around you. 

If a comparable cake-slicing fiasco has happened to you, you're not alone; sometimes, the softest foods are the hardest to handle. It doesn't have to be this way. Instead of handing over the slicing duties to someone else, try changing how you wield the knife. 

Go straight through

Instagram-famous baker Dan Langan, who's particularly adept at pâtisserie-worthy cakes, shared a video recently that could put messy cake-slicing to bed forever. Instead of dragging his knife through the cake at a diagonal, which often pulls apart its delicate crumb, Langan lines the side of his knife parallel to his multi-layered red velvet cake coated in buttercream frosting. He bisects the cake in one swift motion, without tilting the knife, resulting in a crumb-free cut. "When you cut a cake in from the sides there is no drag and you'll have beautifully defined layers," he writes. 

For a little extra insurance, make sure you're working with a sharp knife. Also, it helps to pop the cake in the fridge so it's cold when you slice it. Otherwise, as per one comment on Langan's Instagram post, you could still wind up with a crummy (and crumby) cake slice. 

More steps for success

We have never been invited to a party at Martha Stewart's house (the jury's out on whether or not our invitations have been getting lost in the mail), but we do not doubt that she serves cake slices like a pro, because, well, she is one. Laura Rege, a contributor to Stewart's eponymous magazine, has a few tips that will make Dan Langan's cake-slicing method extra-foolproof.  

In addition to using a sharp knife and chilling the cake before slicing, Rege suggests scoring the top of the cake to mark even slices. When it comes time to slide your knife across the cake, she says to dip it in hot water first for the best results. For comparison, think about how much easier it is to scoop ice cream with a warm spoon. Finally, Rege says to wipe the blade clean between each slice to avoid making crumbs out of crumbs.