The Cake-Cutting Technique Taking Instagram By Storm

June 26, 2017

There are few social activities as stressful as the act of cake-cutting at a party. It's an awful ordeal, being tasked with portioning pieces in a way that feels fair. You’ve got to eyeball carefully, and one miscalculation can result in sad, misshapen wedges. That’s no fun.

There’s been a video making the rounds on Instagram peddling a technique that’s been heralded as “mesmerizing” and “ingenious.” The video’s amassed over 1.3 million views. It involves taking a cutting board and knife and slicing the cake horizontally against the cutting board before taking that slab and slicing it into equal-sized strips. Watching it, I gasped at least three times.

The blogger behind this is Sydney-based Katherine Sabbath, a reformed high school teacher turned self-described “cake creative.” She’s a frankenfood magician, her aesthetic frenzied and joltingly colorful; Sabbath’s been credited as one of the progenitors of the unicorn food movement.

For some, this so-called "hack" is no revelation at all, and Sabbath isn’t exactly claiming to be its author. Sabbath has ripped a page from the playbook of wedding caterers who’ve been doing this for years. Nevertheless, the quick spread of this video implies that this technique isn’t exactly a mainstream practice. If you haven’t cut your cake this way before, now’s your time to begin.

Have a cake-cutting technique of choice? Let us know in the comments.

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Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.


Ed October 5, 2017
Perhaps the word horizontally should be more correctly vertically? Looks to me like the cake is sliced downward, top-to-bottom, perpendicular to the layers, vertically ... yielding the slab. The slab is then tipped against the board, and then that slab may be sliced into strips of varying widths depending on its intended recipient's appetite. Horizontally, to me, would be parallel with the layers. Nonetheless, an interesting technique.
Janet A. July 20, 2017
I use dental floss to cut layers. Use a long piece of floss, wrap it around the layer, tie a single knot and check around the circumference to make it level.
Then continue to pull the two ends until the layer is cut through. I use Fat Daddy-0 cake lifter to separate the two pieces.
Tim July 1, 2017
For those complaining that these slices are too small - You realize that you're welcome to take three or four. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Joycelyn June 30, 2017
Wedding cakes, large cakes have been cut this way for eons. Amazed this has become "breaking news."
Jennifer June 29, 2017
I would want either the first or last slice - because it would be pretty much solid icing.
food52fan June 29, 2017
You take the first and I'll take the second! Icing...yum! :-)
Kathy B. June 29, 2017
"Responsible slices" - pfffft. This is a joyless way to serve cake & cake should be nothing if not a joy.
FS June 30, 2017
Damn right! What next, count calories per serving?! Eat your cake, no matter how wobbly or squished the slice - it's the taste, not the looks!!
SusanR June 29, 2017
My question is the same as others. Looks like a great way to cut a cake, but I am confused about how she got to that center slice. Anyone know? Thanks!
Helen S. June 29, 2017
There is an easy way to cut a round cake to get equal slices. You can cut about 24 thin slices from a 9" round depending upon how thick you want them. (I want mine thicker, but it is up to you.) Simply mark the cake in half, turn it and mark it in half the other way. You now have 4 quarters to the cake.

Mark the quarters into 3, 4, or 5 and slice. For a professional looking cut of a moist tender cake, dip the knife in hot water, quickly dry with a paper towel and slice down. Do not pull the knife back up, slide it out at the bottom. Repeat.

You can see a great deal of cake information here
food52fan June 29, 2017
What a gorgeous, delicious looking cake! I like this cake cutting idea. I usually try to dodge the job of cutting the cake because I never get the slices even. Cutting wedges results in slices that are too big (if there is such a thing) and my fall back method is to cut the cake in half and then cut rectangular slices, with tiny pieces at the ends with lots of frosting and bigger portions in the middle with little frosting. I would rather have my guests come back for seconds or thirds than to throw away half-eaten slices of a cake I worked so hard to bake and decorate. This is a helpful tip, thank you!
Brenda S. June 30, 2017
I love that you try to 'dodge' cutting the cake - me, too! I try to put the dessert serving chore onto my sister-in-law at family gatherings since I'm the baker. I do as you do - cut in half, then slice to order - everybody can have what they want - fat piece, teeny piece, icing piece and less mess - no cutting board needed.
Zindy June 29, 2017
The tradition in my family is to cut a circle in the center of the cake first, then cut all the slices radially around that as usual. It eliminates the thin crumbly bits at the point of the wedge, and the circular last piece is a grand honour to have as your second serving.
SophieL December 29, 2017
This is how I cut a round cake - I think I saw it demonstrated on Martha Stewart's show ages ago. Glad to see this method mentioned here!
Elizabeth G. June 29, 2017
It's pretty, but doesn't the exposed edge dry out?
Stephanie P. June 29, 2017
That looks like a yummy cake, but I really want a larger piece.
PHIL June 28, 2017
You see her cutting the middle of a round cake. What happens on the ends? There is going to be some slices that are all icing on the end. Also the middle slices have no icing. Maybe this would be better on a rectangular cake. And who want a piece of cake that small? Maybe it's just me but I am not a convert.
Katewawa June 26, 2017
My awesome uncle Tom once BLEW OUR MINDS by cutting my sister's birthday cake this way...I soon came to realize the genius of this method and cut layer cakes like this every time now. He also used to slice the paper cup off a pint of ice cream and slice that, too. So much easier than scooping it!
xoch June 26, 2017
So I'm guessing they cut the cake in half first and then do this to each half? Or do they chop large slice off one edge so the board doesn't get smeared with frosting?
fondantslinger June 29, 2017
Agree with Bettina Fisher. I too Have been behind the knife cutting wedding cakes as well as caterers an this is the best way to serve your guests. The days of cutting a circle first has mostly gone by the way side. Best thing is there's not alot of mess nor over abundance of cake which is money usually lost.
Bettina F. June 26, 2017
I have cut a million (okay, not quite) wedding cakes and this is a great way to do it. At big events people have already eaten and drank a lot and this is all the cake they will generally eat. If you need more cake, you can ask for another piece.
melissa June 26, 2017
blasphemous...and unappetizing! only 2 people get the outside frosting per slice!
Nancy P. June 26, 2017
What happens before you get to the center of the cake? Not sure if the first few slices would look as pretty as these.
Angela June 26, 2017
Was one of your gasps when she cuts the slice into 10 pieces instead of, like, 3?
Rhonda35 June 26, 2017
LOL - exactly!
Jenn K. June 26, 2017
Yes!! I only want that small of a slice if it's grocery store cake or there are like 6 cakes and I'm trying them all :-)