Making your cake level prior to decorating is important for multiple reasons, according to Charm City Cakes in Baltimore. Lead cake decorator Caitlin Taylor explains that she starts the entire process by wrapping her cakes after baking while they are still a little warm. This ensures the cake stays moist inside.

“Our standard cake is three layers of cake and two layers of buttercream,” Taylor explains.

Start with the following equipment: a ruler, serrated bread knife and gloves. Unwrap your cake and then flip upside down prior to trimming around the edges. Use a ruler to make sure everything is even. Taylor prefers Charm City’s cakes to be 1 inch in height with ¼ inch buttercream.

With your elbow locked at the side and arm at a right angle, slowly slice your cake back and forth horizontally, staying even. Slice in thin layers until level. Then make a subtle guideline on the cake sides where you want the knife to cut. Make sure the knife and ruler are flat.

With one elbow on top and your elbow locked into your side, slowly saw through your cake back and forth while spinning the cake slightly. Do nice long cuts, only touching the sides when you are spinning the cake. Bring the knife out back and forth. “Now our cake is perfectly level,” she says.