Watch the ‘Mathematically Perfect’ Way to Cut a Cake

06/19/2014 at 02:17 PM ET

How to cut cake

You, a pro cake eater, don’t need instructions on how to cut a piece of cake. It’s, well, a piece of cake, right?

Wrong. Put the knife down — the wedge slice you’re about to cut is going to ruin a perfectly good dessert! That’s according to Alex Bellos, author of The Grapes of Math: How Life Reflects Numbers and Numbers Reflect Life, who is featured in a new video that promotes a scientific method of cake-cutting. Its aim is to prevent leftover cake from getting “dry and horrible,” he says.

(Wait. What’s leftover cake?)

Discovered by a British math whiz and published in Nature magazine in 1906, this untraditional method is “the mathematically perfect way of cutting a round cake,” the author says gleefully. “It’s breaking all the rules of cake etiquette!”

In the video, Bellos first makes a vertical slice through the center of the cake from one side to the other (“the prime steak of that cake, the T-bone cut,” he jokes), then makes a parallel slice. After plating it (it’s a large piece!), he pushes the sides of the remaining cake together and secures it with a rubber band so none of the interior cake is left exposed.

How to cut cake

“The following day all the flesh, the sponge, is going to be nice and soft,” explains Bellos. To cut another piece, this time he slices horizontally from one side to the other and again uses the push-together/rubber-band method to hold the cake together.

Want to have your cake and keep it moist, too? Watch the video below:

—Nancy Mattia

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FILED UNDER: Cake , Dessert , Expert Tips , Food

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Showing 25 comments

bitsy on


Anonymous on

ain’t nobody got time for that!

kirastout on

Ummm…so who’s going to all that?

kirastout on

Ummm…so who’s going to do all that? *correction*

Angie on

Pointless over thinking. I have a mathematical mind and one thing that drives me nuts about square cake is that the corner gets an overabundance of frosting – a secret pet peeve I never share. The mathematical way should be to give everyone an equal slice with equal frosting (the edge typically has more). I love baking cakes, I make all the birthday cakes for my family members. However, not once has the inside of my cake gotten dry and we cut it the traditional way. Plus, he is only taking one slice per day… it’s birthday cake, it is usually eaten by a group of people. And, that must be some firm cake to resist that rubber band – a rubber band would cut right through my cake. Most cakes have a soft frosting, a rubber band wouldn’t just destroy the frosting but the moist cake inside you are trying to preserve.

Leanna on

My family cuts round cakes strangely, but this seems weird. How many people are getting this? Just a few? It seems it’s not the best way to share with a lot of people.

anonymous on

Just throw some saran wrap over it…and who wants someone’s hands squishing the leftover cake together???

itzy8940 on

This guy is taking WAY too long…

Anonymous on

It’s cake, I don’t think anyone should care this much LOL

ps @Angie ! I love the end square piece hee hee soooo much icing on it yay

Kelli on

Lovely theory, but an absolute disaster in the making unless you have a cake with fondant, as is shown here, which most cakes don’t have. Most cakes have frosting, so even if you manage to get that ridiculous middle piece out, good look finding a way to slide the two cake halves together without ruining the frosting on the entire rest of the cake. Wouldn’t a simpler solution be to press some saran wrap on the exposed sides after cutting a wedge out? Or just be like normal people and eat the whole cake at once.

Ms. Anne on

Slow news day….

Anonymous on

Cake does not last that long in my house, haha

glenda on

cake does not last that long in my house, haha

Vanessa on

Yeah, all that work then your three year old cries because she wants the rose… too much work!

robby on

I don’t want that guy’s hands all over the outer layer of icing ! Who knows where the heck they have been ?

Scott on

I much prefer this way as shown in the video for more freshness.
Yes. I would cut my cakes this way.

Thanks for the tip.

Scott on

Robby, You are right about the man’s hands handling the cake as he is doing in the video.

When I watch the food shows on TV, I can’t even fathom one of the chefs / who may have long hair, tattoos, rings in their body parts. handling MY food. Do the TV shows ever think about that? I wonder.

Shelley on

That’s awesome! Will definitely do this next time we have cake.

Hey “anonymous” – AIN’T is not proper English
Hey “kirastout” – you’re kidding, I hope. How much more time would it take??
Hey Angie – talk about “over-thinking” it, relax

Wow – what a bunch of pissy women. It was just a fun tip and you all have to go piss all over it. Go find something else to piss on.

Emily on

The cakes I buy are never meant to be eating a day….or days later. Its for a birthday party and then DONE. But its very cool!

DC on

Well, you might be cutting your cake in a better way so that it doesn’t dry out as quickly, BUT… you are also putting your dirty paws all over the outside of a cake and strapping it together repeatedly with rubberbands. Ya, that’s real sanitary for you and your guests. Also, just try getting some rubberbands around a german chocolate cake. Nope, ain’t happenin’.

Diane on

Or you can just make sure to cover it securely with a tupperware cake container or with plastic wrap.

Diane on

Shelley – well aren’t you just a pissy little b*tch?

janinneescamilla on

So let me ask this: the most brilliant, amazing mathematician in Britain thought of this? Hmmmm it seems people in Britain need to aim higher. This is dumb and a waste. Nobody cares if one side of the cake is a little drier. It’s cake.

whatever on

…um, I want a piece of cake now – thanks buddy

Omg on

Really? Who has time for that ? Who wants cake that has been touched all over?

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