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I have recently made a wedding cake with 3 layers of cake for each tier.

For each tier the same tin was used for each of the 3 layers but when putting them together they were all different in size and had to be trimmed so the outside of the cake was even before icing. They had all shrunk away from the sides of the pan by different amounts. How does this happen and how can it be prevented?

It is so frustrating that this should happen. The cake mixture was done in a single batch, and I also use collars round the outside of the cake tins for even baking.

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    Did you bake them at the same time in the same oven? Is your oven a convection or a standard oven? Please post your recipe and method as well. – GdD Apr 27 '15 at 15:27
  • The recipe was a normal victoria sponge, the mixture was made all in the same batch, the tins were new and all the same size and the mixture was weighed so we had the same in each tin. My oven is gas and all cakes were in different places but were moved around at intervals so all had same time on each shelf. Also wrap the outside of the tins so we get even cakes. When stacking one cake was smaller than the rest. The day after we repeated a chocolate cake but just 2 teirs this time and they ended up different sizes too. Had to trim sides so all was even, this has never happened before!! – lynn Apr 28 '15 at 16:53
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    just wondering if your pans were all the same brand?- I found this post because I recently bought 2x 20cm tins in different brands only to get them out to use and find that one is bigger- there was only one of each in the shop and I thought, well 20cm is 20cm right? apparently not. Its very frustrating! – user40442 Nov 1 '15 at 0:23
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There are a few things that can affect the rise of the layers.

  • If you're baking multiple layers at once, even if your oven heats evenly, the cake on top will rise less than the one of the bottom. The problem is that the top will crust, preventing the top layer from rising as high as the one underneath which is shielded from the radiant heat.

  • If you're mixing a large batch of batter, then dividing it between pans, the amount of batter in each pan might be slightly different from each other. If you're beating it individually, the amount of time that you mix it can affect the rise -- too much mixing will develop gluten which can impede the rise.

  • If you're baking the layers individually, you run into the problem that the oven might have been different temperatures, or at least have absorbed a different amount of heat if the oven wasn't preheated for a sufficiently long time. The result is that the later layers tend to rise a little bit less, as the top sets a little bit earlier.

  • If you're baking the layers individually, but mixed the batter in one batch, then the leavening might not have quite the same strength as in the first batch, and reduce how well it rises ... which has the top set even faster, further reducing the rise.

One other possibility that I haven't tested is if you take things out of the fridge and leave them out while you're baking the other layers. As the eggs and milk might now be between fridge temp and room temp, that slight change might affect the rise as well.

  • It is not the rising of the cake that was the problem it was the shrinking away from the sides which made the stacking a nightmare, they were all different in circumference. – lynn May 3 '15 at 10:13
  • Oh, sorry, I missed that part. For that, your best bet is 'baking strips', which are wet down and pinned around the outside of the pan to prevent the outside edge baking too quickly relative to the rest of the cake. You can also turn down the temperature slightly (25°F / 15°C) but cook it for longer, which will also help with any doming issues. And personally, I always just center them up, with the largest cake on top, upside-down (to get the best top corner), then use a medium cream to spackle and straighten up the edge. – Joe May 3 '15 at 23:05

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