Duff Goldman's Tip For When To Cut Cake At A Party

It feels like there are a million decisions that go into party planning. By the time the celebration actually arrives, the last thing you probably want to do is decide when to cut the cake. Thankfully expert Duff Goldman has a helpful tip. The "Ace of Cakes" star advises to wait until 20 minutes before you're ready to serve the dessert to cut into it.

Goldman advocates against slicing ahead of time, as this could expose the delicate crumb to air and ultimately leave you with a crumbly, dry bite. Cutting the cake and serving soon after, however, allows your guests to taste the confection at its best.

Still, you should prepare for the moment by following another piece of advice from the Food Network star; he recommends bringing the dessert up to room temperature before any slicing begins. Chilling the pastry keeps the frosting fresh, but it can dull the flavor and stiffen all those bouncy, silky components. So, plan to give your pastry an hour or two to warm up, then get your knife ready just before it's time to eat.

Cutting cake for a crowd

Once you've nailed down the timing to cut your cake, it's helpful to think about how to slice it. First, consider how many pieces you'll need to get out of it. On average, a round 8-inch cake can serve 12 to 16 people when cut into wedges. A 9x13-inch sheet cake can feed anywhere from 15 to 28 people, though smaller portions might even stretch the servings to 40.

Though wedges work just fine for round shapes, professionals rely on another technique to maximize servings that you can also copy at home. Cut a horizontal line across the center of the cake, then make perpendicular cuts to create rectangular pieces (and slice them as thinly as you wish). To get even more bites from your treat, start by making three horizontal lines before carving inch-wide servings.

Regardless of how you decide to present the pastry, you can also prepare for the moment by marking the spots you'll be slicing with unscented dental floss. Doing so may make you more confident when it comes time to pierce the frosting, and your guests are more likely to receive even portions. And remember, if you plan to store portions for a later date, make sure to brush up on how to cut your birthday cake the right way to ensure it remains moist.

More tips for perfectly serving cake

When the moment comes, dip a serrated knife in hot water, pat it dry, and press through the cake gently. You'll want to repeat this process of wiping and warming the metal as you go to achieve super clean lines. When you're ready to hand out the slices, use an offset spatula to lift each piece free, rather than relying on the flat part of your knife to do so.

If you've made or purchased a cake enrobed with fondant, remember it can make your beautiful dessert incredibly sweet. The popular decorative coating helps ornate cakes stand up against the elements but it's essentially a sheet of sugar. Though you can eat the layer, Duff Goldman also shares that you're free to peel it off before digging into a slice if it's too saccharine for your liking.

Don't stop at Duff's tricks though; follow another expert and use Ina Garten's serving tip to make homemade cake look way better. Since you'll time cutting the cake to when you're ready to eat it, you can also prepare the plates ahead of time by adding a swoop of sauce or an herb garnish. If you're still nervous about cutting the perfect slice, depending on the type of cake you're serving, you can take the pressure off by keeping fruit salad, whipped cream, or ice cream handy to cover up a broken edge or two.