Archive for July, 2014

Is There a Mathematically Correct Way to Cut a Cake?

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

According to Sir Francis Galton, a British mathematician, there most definitely is.

In a 1906 letter to the journal Nature, Sir Francis wrote “The ordinary method of cutting out a wedge of cake is very faulty.” He went on to explain the scientific principles of cake-cutting.

His suggestions were largely ignored at the time. But, a century later, that may be changing.

This last month, a video of author Alex Bellos demonstrating Galton’s cake-cutting technique has been circulating around the web with a largely positive reception.

Here’s the video:

From the Center Out

Galton argues that, if you eat your cake over several days, the traditional wedge technique exposes the moist cake to the air, drying the surface out. This results in subpar slices in the days following your first cut into the cake.

Instead, he proposes, you should cut long, thin slices from the center of the cake and then push the cake back together to seal in the freshness.

In his video demonstration, Bellos recommends wrapping a rubber band around the cake to hold the cake together and ensure no air gets in.

The Nay-Sayers Chime In

Of course, Galton’s method still has its critics. The cake in the video is made with a firm fondant frosting, which makes pushing the cake together and securing it with rubber bands much easier.

What about cakes with softer frostings? Would the rubber band dig into the sides of the cake? Would you even be able to push the cake together without destroying its structural integrity?

Watch the video and let us know what you think!