Check to see whether your recipe requires a greased pan. If so, you should grease and flour your pan before pouring in the batter. If your recipe doesn't call for a greased pan, skip this step. Angel food cakes, for example, are baked in tube pans that allow cakes to be easily removed without greasing.
Using a pastry brush or paper towel, brush solid shortening evenly over the bottom of the pan, being careful not to leave any uncoated, shiny spots.
Take extra care when greasing fluted tube pans, making sure you've coated the entire surface, including crevices. Cakes baked in these kinds of pans are notorious for sticking.
When greasing the sides and corners of the pan, turn the pan as you grease. Don't grease all the way to the top of the pan; grease only about 1 inch up the sides.
When pan is completely greased, sprinkle a couple of spoonfuls of all-purpose flour into the bottom of it. If you're baking a chocolate cake, consider using unsweetened cocoa powder instead of flour for a nice deep brown color.
To distribute the flour over the pan, hold one edge of the pan and tap the opposite edge with your free hand. The flour will "skate" over the greased surface and stick to it. When the bottom of the pan is coated, tilt the pan, tapping to move the flour over the sides. Tap out any extra flour into your sink.
The extra step of lining the bottom of the pan with waxed or parchment paper is an even surer method for getting the cake out of the pan. Keep in mind that you can only use this method for cakes baked in flat-bottom pans. (Use the grease-and-flour method, above, for fluted tube pans).
After greasing your pan (following the steps above), set the pan on a piece of waxed or parchment paper and trace around it with a pencil.
With a clean pair of kitchen scissors, cut just inside the traced line on the paper.
Fit the cut piece of paper into the pan, pressing it into the corners and smoothing out any wrinkles or bubbles. Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, grease the top of the paper and then flour the pan (following the steps above).
Always follow your recipe's instructions for cooling your cake. Some recipes, such as those for cake rolls, specify turning the cake out of the pan immediately after baking. Other cake recipes specify setting the pans on a cooling rack and cooling the cake in the pans for a short time (often 10 minutes) before removing the cake. Set a kitchen timer for this step -- if you cool the cake too long in the pan it might be difficult to remove.
To get a layer cake out of a pan, place a wire rack over the top of the cake and flip the cake and the pan.
Lift the pan off the cake, being careful not to tear the edges of the cake.
Gently and immediately peel the waxed or parchment paper (if used) off the cake. Cool cake as directed in your recipe.
To get a cake roll out of the pan, loosen the cake from the edges of the pan with a knife and turn out the cake onto a prepared kitchen towel, as directed. Cool cake as directed in the recipe.