Food Facts

How to Remove a Cake From the Pan

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Cake is a delicious and versatile dessert with endless flavor combinations to try, far beyond just chocolate and vanilla. Cake tends to show up at so many important events; birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, and pretty much anywhere there’s a celebration. Because we all love cake, we are always looking for how to make the best cake possible. Here are a few tips to help you out the next time you’re baking a cake.

How to Prevent a Cake from Sticking to the Pan

To start, line the bottom of your cake pan with parchment paper. To do this, you can either buy parchment rounds or trace around outside of the cake pan with a pencil and cut out the traced circle (make sure to place the pencil side down on the pan). This keeps the bottom of the cake from sticking and gives it a smooth surface.

Next, you need to grease the pan. There are two ways you can do this:

  1. Grease and flour the pan. You can grease the pan with either butter or margarine. You can do this by using the paper liner left from the butter you used in your cake or with room temperature butter or margarine and a paper towel. Then place parchment paper in and grease the parchment paper

Next, you’ll need to flour the pan. Sprinkle the pan with flour and shake and rotate the pan to completely cover the bottom and sides with flour. Make sure to hit the sides of the pan to prevent any areas with large amounts of flour. Dump out excess flour into the next pan or the sink. I don’t put this flour back in my container as it may contain a little bit of butter or margarine. If making a chocolate cake, use cocoa powder instead of flour to avoid leaving a white film on the chocolate cake.

  1. You can also grease the pan with a baking spray that contains flour. It is important that it contains flour as you need both the element of grease and flour for the cake to release easily from the pan. You can use a spray such as Baker’s Joy or Pam Baking Spray.

A note on sheet cakes:

I typically grease the pan with baking spray alone when I am making a sheet cake. It is less important for the cake to come out perfectly, given that you frost the cake in the same pan you’re serving it in. It is less important for everything to come out perfectly, and regular baking spray is typically enough for the cake to come out easily. 

How to Remove a Cake from the Pan

Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes. Then run a butter knife or spatula around the edges to loosen the cake. Avoid using a sharp knife as it will scratch your pan. Then turn the cake out onto a wire rack, remove the parchment paper circle, and let it cool completely.

cake on white board being sliced

What to Do if Your Cake Sticks in the Pan

Greasing your cake pan is critical to getting your cake out easily. But if you’ve forgotten to grease the pan or if you did grease the pan and still can’t get your cake out, all is not lost. Here are some things to try:

  1. Don’t allow your cake too cool too long. If you let the cake cool for too long the sugar and fat in the cake resolidify and stick to the cake pan. Only allow the cake to cool long enough to be able to handle the cake pan without oven mitts (10-15 minutes).
  2. If you have allowed the cake to cool for too long, you can place the cake in your cooling, but still warm, oven for 5-10 minutes to slightly reheat the cake. This will help soften and release the baked on areas of the cake.
  3. Another option is to fill a large pan with hot water and place the cake inside (make sure not to let your cake get wet). Let sit for 3-5 minutes and try to remove your cake.
  4. Try flipping the pan over onto a heat-safe cutting board or serving plate. Let sit 5-10 minutes. The weight of the cake can help pull it down out of the pan.

When trying to remove your cake, make sure to run a spatula or butter knife around the edges of the cake pan. Then gently shake and tap the pan while the cake is upside down. Make sure not to hit too vigorously and keep it close to a serving plate or cutting board, so it lands safely.

How to Grease a Bundt Pan

Make sure to start with a good non-stick pan, check that it isn’t scratched up or worn, as this can affect how well it releases. Grease the pan with cooking spray or with melted margarine or butter, you may need a pastry brush to get into every crevice of the baking pan.

Make sure to grease the pan right before putting the batter in; otherwise, the grease may slide down, and pool in the bottom, and the sides can end up sticking. You don’t flour a bundt pan, but you can sprinkle a thin coating of nut flour or granulated sugar. As with a regular cake, don’t allow it to cool too long, or the cake will stick to the pan. 

Do You Grease the Pan for Angel Food Cake?

One main exception to greasing your pan is an angel food cake. This is because angel food cake gets its volume from beaten egg whites. The batter needs to stick to the pan and “climb” it as it bakes to rise. Grease will keep the cake from being able to do this, leading to a flat, tough cake.

So if you can’t grease the pan, how do you get an angel food cake out of the pan? Make sure to cool the cake upside down to maintain the volume. Once it has cooled, flip the pan right side up, and now you can remove the cake.

If using a tube pan, run a knife or spatula around the edges and center of a pan. With a tube pan, you use the tube to pull the cake out of the pan. Then use a knife to remove the cake from the bottom of the pan. Then flip the cake upside down and remove it fully from the pan.

If you have used a loaf pan, run your butter knife or spatula around the edges and turn the pan upside-down over a plate, and the cake should slide right out. If it doesn’t, you can lay the pan on its side and continue to run the knife around the edges until the cake slides out.

Looking for a delicious cake recipe? Check out my Banana Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting. Happy Baking!

Hello! I'm Nichole and I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. I have a bachelor's degree in Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science and a master's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. I love cooking, baking and anything food related. I look forward to teaching you more about food and sharing my favorite recipes with you. Enjoy!

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