Birthdays and wedding ceremonies are common occasions when your ability to properly cut a cake is most desired. But, sometimes, when your circle of people fails to come to your festivity, you need to refrigerate your cake for a while.
Here is how to cut a cake you are not planning to devour in a single sitting:
As the British mathematician Alex Bellos explains in a new fun video from his Numberphile series, the traditional way of dividing up a circular cake is cutting it into a series of triangular wedges. Where lies the rub here?
Well, cutting out a triangular wedge from a round cake leaves the cut sides exposed to air, primed to dry out in the fridge overnight (especially if it lacks the protection of a good old-fashioned glass cake cloche, Tupperware cake taker, or a plastic wrap).
“You are not maximizing the amount of gastronomic pleasure that you can make from this cake,” says Bellos in the video.
A better way, says Bellos, has existed for more than a century. In 1906 the journal Nature ran a letter from Francis Galton in which the celebrated British polymath offered “for his own amusement and satisfaction” what he considered a superior method of cutting a cake.
The goal, he wrote, was to cut it “so as to leave a minimum surface to become dry.” Galton’s method involves slicing all the way through the diameter of the cake to extract a long slice, then pushing the now reduced but still intact halves of the cake together to seal in moisture.
Bellos demonstrates the technique on a birthday cake hermetically sealed with fondant (sugar) icing, which he then secures with a rubber band to keep the cut edges snug.
Take my word for this: Once you become apt to do this “scientific cutting”, you will never eat a dry cake again!
I tried it out the other day. It really works! Now it’s your turn to give it a try!