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“Cutting the cake” is an honor. Whether you’re getting married, retiring, or celebrating a birthday, the task usually falls to a special person on their special day. I’m not one to nitpick the aesthetics of a slice of cake—especially one that is handed to me free of charge—but, when cutting the cake, I want to do as good of a job as possible.

Cakes, as you well know, are often made with multiple layers, with frosting in between them. When you press your knife through the cake, those layers of frosting stick to the knife, smearing the cake with frosting and dragging crumbs through it as you slice. It is not the end of the world, but it is perhaps slightly messier than you would like it to be. If that is the case, consider slicing your cake in a different direction.

According to baker and food personality Dan Langan, holding your knife vertically and cutting from the outside in eliminates this issue, resulting in a “cleaner slice.”

I did not have a layer cake available to test this on, but I did have an old piece of carrot cake I had forgotten about in the back of the fridge. I cut it up a couple of different times using both methods, and found that Dan’s way really did reduce the amount of frosting that ended up on the knife.

This is the knife after cutting down into the cake (with the knife held horizontally):

Image for article titled The Better Way to Cut a Clean Slice of Cake

Photo: Claire Lower

And this is the knife after cutting from the outside in (knife held vertically) as described in Dan’s Instagram video:

Image for article titled The Better Way to Cut a Clean Slice of Cake

Photo: Claire Lower

I wish I had a picture of the cake to show you, but it was already pretty messed up looking, as I had been picking away at it throughout the course of the week. (Ah well, nevertheless.)

But, as you can see from the two photos, cutting the cake as Dan described did generate far less of a crumby mess, which translates into cleaner slices. If nothing else, busting out this little trick could make you the hero of the office party or birthday party. Just don’t try it at someone else’s wedding. Cutting the wedding cake is frowned upon if you are neither the bride nor groom, no matter how clean your slices are.

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