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How do I fix a baked cake stuck to the pan?

The technique is simple. Begin by ensuring that your cake is completely baked, since an undercooked dessert is considerably more likely to adhere to the pan. “The edges of a completely cooked cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan,” says baking expert and author Chef Angela Garbacz of Perfectly Golden: Adaptable Recipes for Sweet and Easy Desserts. “Furthermore, while lightly poking the middle of the cake, there should be no give and it should bounce back promptly. You can also insert a paring knife or toothpick into the center to check for doneness. If it comes out clean, the cake is baked,” she adds.

Let your cake to cool for at least an hour, preferably to room temperature. According to Garbacz, allowing layer cakes to cool in their pans lets the outside of the cake steam a bit, which helps keep the edges super soft. “But with cakes like banana bread or pound cake, I prefer to unmold them after around 10 minutes. These cakes hold up nicely to cooling outside of their pans, forming a little more of a crust.” Remove them from the pans and cool them immediately on the serving platter, on parchment paper, or on a cooling rack.

Finally, the decisive time has arrived. “Start by running a butter knife around the edge of the pan, between the cake and the pan,” says Garbacz. “Make sure the knife stays in contact with the side of the pan the entire time—this ensures you will have a nice edge on the cake, and you aren’t cutting into the cake itself.” If you adequately oiled your baking pan before baking, this should enough.

If your cake is really stuck, and you can see that the butter knife method won’t work, wrap the cake and pan in plastic wrap and freeze for at least six hours or up to a day. When prying a cold cake out of the pan, it is less prone to break apart. Once it has cold, run the butter knife around the rim of the pan one more. Then flip the pan over and tap an edge on a board while holding the pan at a 45-degree angle to pop the entire cake out.

Still no joy? Try this method: Run a small butter knife or offset spatula around the cake rim to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Working around the whole cake, insert two forks on the opposite ends of the pan and use the forks as levers, squeezing and nudging the cake to loosen it. The cake should come out if you flip the pan over on the board.

If none of these methods work, just frost the cake and serve it directly from the pan like a sheet cake. Life is too brief! Then decide not to deal with a baked-in cake again.

Related Questions

  • Why is my cake not coming out of the pan?

    To remove the cake from the pan, use a knife. Slide the knife carefully between the cake and the pan, working gently around the edge. Try to keep the knife against the pan so that you don’t cut into the cake. Turn the pan upside down and carefully push the cake out onto a cooling rack or platter once the cake is loose.

  • Is it better to remove cake from pan hot or cold?

    It’s vital to follow the directions on the package, although most cakes are best taken from the pan after cooling for 10 to 20 minutes. If you try it too soon, it may come apart. If you wait too long, it can stay.

  • How quickly should you remove a cake from the pan?

    Certain recipes, such as those for cake rolls, stipulate that the cake be removed from 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.

  • How long should a cake cool before removing from pan?

    Let the Cake Cool
    After removing the pan from the oven, lay it on a wire rack to cool; the recipe will give the time necessary, which is generally between 10 and 20 minutes. This allows the cake to become firm enough to remove from the pan without breaking apart.