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How to Cut a Tier Cake

I’m going to show you how to cut a tier cake in three different ways. By using different techniques you can vary the size and type of portions.

Wedge slices

The first way, which I’m sure you’re familiar with, is to cut wedge shaped slices. Slice from the middle of the cake to the outer edge and then pull out your knife. Then rotate to cut from the middle to a little bit further around the outer edge.

how to cut the top tier of a cake

Slide your knife or a cake lifter underneath the cake and wiggle it to loosen the slice from the cake. Pull it out, using a finger to balance it if you need to, and lower it onto a plate.

how to cut a wedge slice

This wedged shaped cake slice is the quickest way to cut a cake. Each slice is a generous portion of layers of cake and filling surrounded on two sides by frosting.

As you can see, it's possible to serve the top cake while it's still on top of the tier cake. Your knife won't push the cake down into the lower tiers because of the internal support structure inside the tier cake. If this is new to you, learn all about it in my tutorial on How to Make a Tiered Cake. If you prefer, you can take this cake off the tier cake before cutting it. You'll need an offset spatula or a cake lifter, which is a wide, flat piece of metal with a handle. Slice underneath the cake below the cake board that this cake is sitting on. You'll separate it from the cake tier below it but keep the cake attached to its own cake board.

how to take the top tier off a tier cake

Lift up the cake on its board and lower it onto the table or counter, where you can then slice it. To balance the cake as you move it, you can touch the frosting if it has set. This is one of the reasons that the ideal time to cut a cake is after the frosting has set. You'll find that the frosting is firm and less messy than immediately after frosting a cake. The cake shouldn't be cold so if it has been refrigerated, wait at least 2 hours after taking it out of the fridge.

how to cut the top tier

This wedge-shaped slice is a quick and easy way to cut a tier cake. It's great if you have plenty of cake for the number of people you're serving.

how to cut large cake portions

If you need to get more portions out of a cake, you'll need smaller portions. This is typical for wedding cakes and events where there are several desserts being served. Next, I'll show you how to cut a tier cake in two other ways that are better suited for that.

How to cut a tier cake with the cutting board method

For this method you use a cutting board to cut a cake into strips and then divide those strips into smaller portions.

To remove the tier of the cake you're going to serve, slide an offset spatula or cake lifter underneath the cake board. Lift it up with the cake on it and lower it onto a cutting board.

how to take apart a serve a tier cake

Cut across the cake an inch or two in. When your knife gets to the bottom, angle it to push the slice over onto the cutting board. Then cut this into pieces. I usually cut the first slice into 3 pieces and the rest of the slices into 4 pieces. The portions of this end slice are perfect for frosting lovers!

cutting board method to cut a tier cake
how to cut tall cakes with a cutting board

Cut the next slice another inch or two over, tipping it over onto the cutting board. To make four portions, cut the slice down the middle and each piece in half again. If the cake is really tall you can cut the piece in half the other way too, making twice as many portions. This is useful for a wedding or any occasion where you have lots of other food and desserts so you don’t need very big servings of cake.

how to cut a tier cake into small portions

Assuming your tier cake has a support structure inside, you’ll need to remove that before cutting your slices. I have a tutorial on how to make a tiered cake that has a lot more information on that. Tweezers are useful to grip onto support straws and pull them out.

remove support dowels from tier cake before serving

How to cut a tier cake with the Ring Method

For large cakes that are wider then a cutting board, another way to serve them is the ring method. Cut a ring a few inches within the outer edge to make an inner circle. Use sawing motions with your knife to cut all the way down to the bottom of the cake around the whole circle.

how to serve large cakes with the ring method

Then slice this ring of cake into portions. You can cut wide pieces if you want large portions or make the cuts closer together for narrower pieces. By cutting the circle within the cake, instead of having really long wedges you’ll be able to cut another round of slices out of the inner part of the cake, so you’ll get a lot more portions this way.

how to cut large tier cakes with the ring method

So, there are three very different ways to cut a tier cake.

  • The wedge shaped slice for the easiest way to cut big portions in a small cake.
  • The cutting board method gives you the most portions out of a cake and is especially useful for tall cakes.
  • The circle method or ring method is the easiest way to cut very wide cakes.

Which one would you choose? Tell me in the comments!

how to cut a tier cake

If you prefer, you can watch a video of this tutorial on how to cut a tier cake:

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