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Pretty up that cake!  | 1 2 3 4 5
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Step 2) Shape.
Dream-cakes are symmetrical and have perfectly flat tops. In real life, cakes have a tendency to develop a rounded top as they rise in the oven, the end result being that they resemble a gentle hill. Itís an easy enough problem to fix, however, since all you have to do is slice off the top, as follows:

a) Remove your cake from your pan, and set it right-side up on the counter.
b) Using the longest knife you've got (bread knives work well) slowly slice off just the very top, in a gentle sawing motion. Put your free hand on top of the cake to steady it (be careful not to slice yourself!) The cut should be about halfway between the top edge of the cake and the highest point of the cake; this will be just enough to more-or-less level the surface without sacrificing too much cake. Squat down eye-level with the cake to see where you ought to cut. You can use toothpicks to mark your place, if you like.

c) Having lopped off the raised portion, the top is now scrap. Pig out! Itís the perfect opportunity to check how your cake turned out, and if you're giving your concoction away, this may be your only chance. This extra bit of cake is also good for distracting any "vultures" that may be hanging around, waiting for you to leave the room so they can pounce Ė toss them a scrap and you should be able to keep them at bay. You may also want to keep some of the cake scrap to patch up any imperfections (small missing bits) in your cake; youíll be able to use some icing, later, to sort of cement it in place.

Step 3) Construction.
Layer cakes should be built by placing one layer top-down on the plate, then stacking the second layer top up, after you've added plenty of icing, of course. The frosting you spread on top of the first layer will squoosh out somewhat after you add the second layer and ice the top, so it need not reach the edges; leaving a half an inch margin is fine. You may wish, if your cut wasn't too straight, to put the cake together before you fill the middle with icing, and rotate the top around until you discover the position that makes the most even-looking cake. Square cakes can be made using the same method. For a rectangular cake, you can use a 9"x13" pan. Cut it in half after trimming, and put the first half top down, with the cut side facing one direction, second half top up, cut side facing opposite direction.

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