Ask Nancy

Do You Have a Question?

I'll be answering ten questions each month... and if your question is chosen, I'll post a personalized response!

Submit Your Question

How exactly do you cut iced cakes? Whenever I cut a round cake, pieces left and right from the cut break away, because the icing dried so very hard. I’ve heard somewhere to put glycerin in the icing to keep it moist ... is that an option?

Kate - from Stuttgart, Germany

Buttercream icing will crust (the edges harden) a few hours after icing a cake, but a buttercream iced cake should keep at room temperature for 2-3 days. Adding a small amount of corn syrup might help the icing from drying out too much.

For successful clean cuts, before you start cutting, determine how many pieces you'll want. Most round cakes easily cut into 8 to 12 pieces. Then, find a thin-bladed, longer knife – some bakers prefer serrated knives. Remember, the longer the knife blade, the less you’ll need to make multiple motions for one piece of cake.

To cut, run the knife blade under hot water, dry the knife and immediately make your first slice, keeping a steady hand and trying to be as even as possible. The best place to begin is down the middle (either horizontally or diagonally). Heating the knife in hot water makes the knife glide more easily through the cake as you slice. Wash the knife under hot water and dry it again between every slice to continue to cut smoothly.

Return to all questions

The Public Television cake decorating show providing easy projects for special celebrations. Not intended to replace instructional classes.