Flossin' Baking Hack: Does It Work?
Updated: Nov 10, 2019
Flossin', not talking about showing off. :) I'm talking about this baking hack I saw in a Buzzfeed video: to use floss and toothpicks to cut a cake into level layers. It looked so funny, I had to try it out. :)
A chef would normally use a big knife and a cake stand -- either cutting straight across or spinning the cake stand until they cut all the way through the cake. You would cut the cake into layers if you want to put frosting/filling in between the layers of cake. You would use this baking hack or a knife to make sure the cake was level and didn't topple over after the frosting/filling is added.
It's the first one in this Buzzfeed video.
Saturday, October 26, 2019: Attempt #1
I used Betty Crocker Funfetti cake mix (everything is better w/ sprinkles :) ) and followed the directions on the box: using 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of oil and 3 whole eggs.
The directions call for you to use an electric mixer and mix for 2 minutes. I don't have an electric mixer yet. Fun fact: Using an electric mixer does change the chemical composition of cake batter, making cake fluffier and taller (vs. mixing it by hand). I saw that experiment on the TV show, Food: Fact or Fiction. I should probably get an electric mixer to do this experiment properly; maybe I'll get an electric mixer soon. Instead, I just mixed it by hand longer (3 minutes, instead of 2 minutes).
I put the cake batter into two 9" round pans.
RESULT: Probably a failure, but learned some things. :)
We are good at this?
I do think I need to get an electric mixer to do this experiment properly. The cakes tastes good, but has not risen that much where you would even want to slice it in half to add frosting/filling.
I couldn't find toothpicks at the store I was at, so I picked up these flossers to act as toothpicks. Haha. :) So this is really a flossin' experiment.
In the video, they also use a 9" round cake.
They placed 12 toothpicks around the whole cake, spaced evenly around the cake, about 2-3" apart. The toothpicks are placed about halfway up the cake to make two level cakes.
There was a little mishap taking this cake out the pan; a little crumbled off. Haha. I did spray the pan with cooking spray.
I just realized after re-watching the video that I didn't use the same flossin' technique as they did, but I don't think that that was the primary reason for the failure here.
Flossin' technique in the video: They used a piece of floss that was long enough in order to wrap the floss around the whole circumference of the cake. Then they pulled both ends of the floss together and cinched it together.
I used a long piece of floss, but tried to slide it through 1 side all the way across like using a knife.
Problems I noticed:
1.) Cakes didn't rise, so they weren't really tall enough to even need to slice them in half.
- As I mentioned, I hand-mixed the batter and knew that this impacted how fluffy and how much the cake would rise (vs. an electric mixer). Handmixing also made the cake a little more dense, perhaps making it harder to use floss.
2.) Crispy edges from cooking spray
One problem I noticed with both cakes is that baking them in a pan with cooking spray made the edges crispy and the texture at the edge was too hard to get through with just floss. It tastes good; it just impacted the flossin' hack. I made an adjustment to account for this with Cake #2.
This cake rose a little bit more than Cake #1. I inserted the flossers around the circumference of the cake in a similar manner to Cake #1. To account for the crispy edges I noticed with Cake #1, I used a butterknife to cut inside 2-3mm through the edge all around the cake -- getting through the crispy edge of the cake with the knife, so I could use the floss to slice through inside of the cake. This helped a lot and I was able to easily slice through the whole cake and make 2 layers as you can see here. :)
For my next attempt, I'm going to use an electric mixer. I got an electric mixer on the way and I also wanted to note that as you can see here and in other posts, I've been using this silicone baking mat. If you are doing any baking, even just every once in awhile, I recommend getting one. It is helpful and makes cleanup super easy. You just rinse it off in the sink.
I'm also going to try the flossin' technique I saw in the video and try to figure out how to make the edges less crispy compared to the rest of the cake.
Tuesday, October 28, 2019: Attempt #2
I made some changes based on what I learned in Attempt #1:
- Got an electric mixer: to see if a fluffier cake would help with the flossin' technique.
- Used parchment paper: to see if that would minimize crispy edges, which made it hard for the floss to get through.
- Used the flossin' technique in the video: wrap the floss around the whole cake and cinch together.
Otherwise, I made the cake batter according to the instructions on the box; the same as in Attempt #1 -- except I used a the electric mixer I got and mixed it for 2 min. I like this little Dash electric mixer I got; it was not the cheapest one. I paid a few dollars more because I liked the color and design. Not going to lie. :)
The cake batter was noticeably fluffier and lighter. When I was putting the parchment paper on to the baking pan; it was not staying in place very well.
RESULT: Success in one respect; failure in others. Learned some more things. :)
The shape of each was a little malformed and sort of lumpy, maybe a little flower-shaped, instead of a complete circle. Haha. :) I could already tell when I was pouring the batter in that the cakes were not going to be completely round because the parchment paper wasn't staying in place and the cake batter wasn't filling in all the way to the edges. (If I was going to serve the cake, I could just shave off a little off the edges to make the cakes round.)
On the upside, because of the electric mixer, the cakes were noticeably a little taller coming out of the oven. Also, the edges of the cake were not as crispy this attempt.
After placing the flossers around the circumference of the cake, I used the flossin' technique in the video: I wrapped the floss around the whole cake and cinch together.
Even though the edges were not as crispy as in Attempt #1, it was difficult to initially slice through the edge of the cake. I use Oral B Glide floss, to you know, floss. It is slippery or "glides", which is nice flossing your gums :), but this makes it difficult when you are holding it and trying to cut through the cake. I think it is better to use the cheapest floss, which seems kind of rough, for flossin' cakes.
I was able to slice through the cake, but not very well and it fell apart.
This flossin' attempt was a success! I almost thought it wasn't going to work. I had to use a lot more effort than you might expect to pull the edges of the floss together to cut through the cake, but when I pulled really tight, it worked. I was able to cut through the cake and make 2 even layers.
See photos below.
I have some ideas for further experiments to see if I can get the flossin' technique to work better.
Experiment #3: I was watching 'Girl Meets Farm' on the Food Network and she was using parchment paper to bake something and had a good tip that I'm going to try. Line the parchment paper with grease on the side touching the pan to make it stick / stay in place.
Experiment #4: I will just see if using the fluffier batter (make with the electric mixer) makes the edges less crispy and bake the cakein the pan with cooking spray (no parchment paper).
To be continued...
Thursday, October 31, 2019: Attempt #3
I decided to make a Brain Cake for my Mom (see post) and experiment with cake pops (see posts), so before I did all that I decided to try the Flossin' Baking Hack again. Reusing ingredients for different projects / post (see post). :)
- Cake Pops:
Add Lessons Learned link
- Reusing ingredients for different projects / posts:
I repeated the experiments as in Attempt #2:
- Cake #1: The baking pan was lined with parchment paper (with cooking spray on the side touching the pan to help it stay in place).
- Cake #2: Baking pan only (no parchment paper) sprayed with cooking spray.
I used the flossin' technique in the video, pulling both edges of a floss together tight and cinching it together.
RESULT: Unexpected failure for both. :)
We are good at this? I thought I was getting the hang of this. :) I couldn't get it to work for either cake (parchment paper or cooking spray only).
Cake #1: parchment paper
The edges were not particularly crispy, but I couldn't get it to work. Into the bowl it went for cake pop experiments. :)
Cake #2: cooking spray only
The edges weren't particular crispy for this cake either, but I couldn't get it to work. I used part of this cake for the Brain Cake. You can see it was already sort of in the shape of a brain. :)
I will keep on trying it out when I'm making cake for different experiments. :) One new experiment with cake mix I'm going to try is one of the healthy substitute recommendations for cake mix: substituting applesauce for oil. I think that would take ~1000 calories off. We'll see if the healthy substitute sacrifices any tastiness. Typically, I will just eat less of regular version rather than sacrifice tastiness. :) Stay tuned!
Flossin' Baking Hack experiments to be continued...:)
Wednesday, November 6, 2019: Healthy Cake - Attempt #1:
As I mentioned above, I was interested in seeing what cake mix cakes were like when you use one of the recommended healthy substitute ingredients: applesauce for oil. See this link:
Also, I wanted to see if cake pops could be made with healthy cake mix. Stay tuned for those posts, which will be updates on the cake pops links above!
I had this cake that I was going to use for cake pops anyways, so it didn't matter what form it was in because I was going to crumble it anyways.
I decided to try out the flossin' baking hack with this healthy cake.
I thought there would be a good chance of it working because the cake seemed lighter and fluffier.
RESULT: Success! :)
We are good at this! It worked really well with the healthy cake. I think because the cake is lighter and fluffier.
Give it a try! Especially if you are going to make cake pops and it doesn't matter if the cake falls apart. It's pretty fun when it works and the cake still tastes good if it does fall apart. :)