What Does “Torting a Cake” Mean?

The term may seem technical, but the technique will have you easily assembling the perfect homemade cake.

Baking the perfect cake feels like a feat only fit for a top-tier baker or pastry chef. Whipping together other desserts like brownies feels safe, but layering a cake and trying to decorate it? Forget it! Well, what if we told you that layering the perfect homemade cake is actually made a lot easier by torting a cake?

When it comes to assembling a bakery-worthy cake at home, it’s all about knowing the right cake-baking tips. Smoothing out even layers in cake pans and gently tapping the pans to pop pesky air bubbles certainly helps with creating perfectly even layers, but that doesn’t always ensure that the layers come out of the oven perfectly flat instead of domed. That’s where the technique of torting a cake comes in handy.

Here’s What “Torting a Cake” Means

If you would rather have a single-layer snack cake, this technique isn’t necessary. But if you’re looking to assemble a layer cake that rivals those you see on The Great British Baking Show, then you will absolutely want to learn how to torte a cake. This simple method helps you achieve the flat, symmetrical layers you see in bakery cakes, and it just means cutting the cake with a long, sharp serrated knife.

Now you might be wondering if the term “torting a cake” is also linked to a torte, which is a type of cake, and the answer is yes—they are linked. This technique was actually named after the torte itself—a rich dessert with flavorful thin layers of cake and frosting, dating back to the Original Sacher-Torte in 1832, a dessert that the staff of Austrian State Chancellor Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich invented to impress his guests.

How to Torte a Cake

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Here’s an easy step-by-step process on how to torte a cake.

  • First, be sure your cake layers are completely cooled on a wire rack. This makes it easier to slice. For perfectly baked layers, here are the steps to never skip when baking a layer cake.
  • Once cooled, carefully transfer a layer to a cutting board with clean hands. Using a long, sharp serrated knife (like a thin bread knife), you’ll want to slice down the middle of the cake “hamburger style” on the side. This will help to make smaller cake layers.
  • If you want even thinner layers like a traditional torte, you can try cutting multiple layers with your cake. But if this is the first time, we recommend mastering the step of cutting the cake into halves down the middle before trying to divide it into thirds or fourths.
  • When assembling your cake (or torte), if your cake layer is domed at the top, be sure to flip it over so you’re working with a flat surface. Cakes are less likely to crack at the top if they are flat when decorating.
  • That’s it! Once you have your layers, we recommend adding a dollop of frosting at the bottom of your cake stand or plate to seal the first layer at the bottom for assembling your layers of frosting and torted cake.

Now that you know how to successfully torte a cake and layer it like a pro, once that cake is beautifully frosted, here’s how to write on a cake so you can add a message to that beautiful cake you just worked so hard on.

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten is a freelance journalist and content strategist who has covered food, health and lifestyle topics for nearly a decade. She covers a little bit of everything at Taste of Home, from testing recipe hacks to investigating TikTok trends. Her work has also appeared in EatingWell, Bustle, Eat This, Not That!, and The Everygirl, to name a few. Armed with a certificate in nutrition science from Stanford Medicine, she debunks nutrition myths and diet culture in "Forkful," her weekly newsletter on Substack. Her debut novel, "Safe Harbor," came out in 2023.