How to Keep Your Cake from Sticking to the Pan So It Always Comes Out In One Piece

Follow these expert baking tips for cakes that slide easily from the pan.

Make your first attempt at that six-layer cake a success by ensuring it doesn't fall apart when removed from the pan. Not all cakes require your baking pan to be greased and/or floured. (Angel food cakes, for example, are baked in tube pans that allow cakes to be easily removed without greasing.) But most of the time, you'll find even a basic yellow cake recipe calls for your pan to be greased prior to putting it in the oven. Once you know how to grease a pan properly, you'll be able to get cakes out of the pan without any worries at all.

How to Grease and Flour a Pan

Cakes that will be removed from the pan call for a greased and floured pan; recipes that are served in the pan simply call for greasing. If your recipe doesn't call for a greased pan, skip this step.

Brushing sides of pan
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Step 1: Brush pan with shortening

Using a pastry brush ($11, Bed Bath & Beyond) or paper towel, brush solid shortening evenly over the bottom of the pan, being careful not to leave any uncoated, shiny spots. 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. 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.

Preparing a Baking Pan
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Step 2: Flour the pan

When pan is completely greased, sprinkle a few spoonfuls of all-purpose flour into the bottom. If you're baking a chocolate cake, consider using unsweetened cocoa powder instead of flour for a nice deep brown color and enhanced chocolate flavor.

Flouring a Pan

Step 3: Evenly distribute flour

Hold one edge of the pan; tap the other with free hand to distribute the flour. 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 the garbage.

Test Kitchen Tip: For a quick nonstick brush-on, stir together ¼ cup each vegetable oil, shortening, and flour. Brush on pans instead of greasing/flouring.

How to Line a Pan with Parchment Paper or Waxed Paper

The extra step of lining the bottom of the pan with parchment paper ($4, Target) is an even surer method for getting the cake out of the pan, especially those that are more likely to stick (we're looking at you, carrot cake). 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.

Pencil tracing line on waxed paper

Step 1: Trace the pan

After greasing your pan (following the steps above), set the pan on a piece of parchment paper and trace around it with a pencil.

Step 2: Cut and fit paper

With a clean pair of kitchen scissors, cut just inside the traced line on the paper. Press it into the corners, smoothing out any wrinkles or bubbles.

Fitting waxed paper into the pan
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Step 3: Fit paper, then grease and flour

Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, grease the top of the paper and then flour the pan (following the steps above).

How to Remove a Baked Cake from the Pan

Removing a cake from the pan at the right time is critical to making sure it won't stick or fall apart on you. Always follow your recipe's instructions for cooling your cake. Some recipes, such as those for cake rolls, specify call for 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 (usually in the 10-minute range) before removing the cake. Set a kitchen timer for this step. Cooling the cake too long in the pan might make it difficult to remove.

Flipping cake onto wire rack
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Step 1: Flip pan onto wire rack

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.

Removing pan from cake
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Step 2: Lift pan off cake

Lift the pan off the cake, being careful not to tear the edges of the cake.

Step 3: Remove paper, if used

Gently and immediately peel the waxed or parchment paper (if used) off the cake. Cool cake as directed in your recipe. If you're removing a cake roll from the pan, loosen the cake from the edges of the pan with a knife or offset spatula and turn out the cake onto a prepared kitchen towel before cooling as directed.

Put your cake-making knowledge to good use and practice some baking therapy with a delightful champagne cake with strawberries. Or go for a classic chocolate cake. Don't forget the ice cream!

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