Cutting Cakes and Bar Cookies
Different cakes require different cutting techniques, but the end result we strive for is always the same – we want even, clean cuts so that the cake is presented to its best advantage. Some cakes work best with a thin bladed slicing knife, others with a serrated knife, but in all cases it really helps if the knife is wiped clean in-between cuts with a warm, damp cloth. Also, in general, cakes cut more easily and cleanly when cold, but if they are to be served at room temperature you have to weigh whether it is more important to present the whole room temperature cake to the guests, or if you can slice the cake ahead of time while cold and just present the individual slices already plated. (In the latter case, cover them with plastic wrap while they come to room temperature so that they don’t dry out).
To cut bar cookies cleanly and evenly, my preferred approach uses a metal bench scraper. Grab the tool firmly by the handle and press the long straight sharp edge straight down into the bars; repeat to make a complete cut either across or down the length of the pan by lifting and pressing, lifting and pressing. If the bars are sticky, wipe the blade clean between cuts with a warm, damp cloth. Cutting in this fashion eliminates the drag created by pulling a knife through a pan of bars; the edges will be cleaner and give you prettier results. Also, since you can look down upon the bars and press and cut, it is easier to keep the lines straight. After you have cut your grid (8 x 5, 6 x 6, etc), you can also use the bench scraper as a lever to pop the first one out and help get the subsequent ones out as well, although at this point, switching to a small offset spatula is usually best.