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How do you take a layer cake out of a pan?

preview for The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever.

Making a cake from scratch is quite fulfilling, until your cake fails to behave as planned! We’ve all been there: you take your homemade cake out of the oven, it looks and smells amazing, and you’re feeling pretty proud… until you try to remove it from the pan. And that’s when everything begins to go apart. Don’t worry, you just need to know how to get stuck cake out of a pan, plus how to keep it from sticking in the first place!

No matter what kind of cake you’re making—a rustic, can’t-go-wrong number like Ree Drummond’s Chocolate Strawberry-Nutella Cake or a more formal stack like her Coconut Layer Cake—a stuck cake can be super frustrating. Yet there is some good news: not everything is gone! You can still save your cake if it breaks. Continue reading to learn how to remove a cake from a pan, what to do if it becomes stuck, and how to avoid sticking the next time!

how to get cake out of pan


How to Remove a Cake from a Pan

Let it cool.

Let the cake to cool entirely, unless your recipe instructs otherwise, to enable the structure to harden. Cooling the cake on a wire rack speeds up the process, as it allows air to circulate underneath the cake pan as well.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that you should make sure your cake is fully baked (a toothpick should come out clean and the top should spring back to the touch). It will be difficult to remove an underbaked cake intact.

The Pioneer Woman 4-Piece Nonstick Metal Bakeware Bundle

The Pioneer Woman 4-Piece Nonstick Metal Bakeware Bundle

Loosen the edges.

Run a thin, sharp knife or offset spatula along the edge of the cake to loosen it. Take your time and be careful not to cut into the cake.

Invert the cake.

It’s now time to turn that pan over and pray for the best! Locate a big enough serving tray, plate, or wire cooling rack to accommodate the cake. After that, cover the cake pan with the inverted plate, then invert—the cake should pop right out.

What to Do If Your Cake Is Stuck

Give it time.

If you invert your cake and it doesn’t pop out, give it a minute: Let the cake sit inverted and try gently tapping the inverted bottom of the pan or shake the pan slightly to see if these movements help release the cake. Hopefully, gravity will save the day.

Heat it or chill it.

Severe heat or cold may be beneficial to your cause: Wrap the bottom of the inverted cake pan with a hot-water-soaked kitchen towel—the heat may help loosen the cake, causing it to slip out. Conversely, set a bowl of ice-filled water on top of the inverted pan, as the chill may help solidify the bottom of the cake; this may help it fall out or set up the cake bottom. You may also freeze the cake: Wrap it securely in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer until hard, then try inverting and tapping it out. Since it’s frozen, you may be a little more forceful with the tapping and prying without damaging the cake. Run a small rubber spatula along the sides and even slightly underneath to help pry out the cake.

Squeeze out the cake.

The Pioneer Woman Floral Nonstick Metal Cast Cakelet Pan

The Pioneer Woman Floral Nonstick Metal Cast Cakelet Pan

The Pioneer Woman Floral Nonstick Metal Cast Cakelet Pan

Consider this a last-ditch effort: after freeing the sides of the pan and attempting everything else, gently compress the cake with two forks or little rubber spatulas to assist it release. Place the utensils across from each other on opposite sides of the pan, then squeeze and raise softly and carefully around the pan. Slowly and patiently shove out the cake, as this procedure may change the round corners of the cake—nothing a thick layer of frosting can’t fix!—but it may also help nudge out the cake. Invert the cake carefully again, keeping your fingers crossed.

Serve it in the pan.

If all else fails, ice and decorate your cake in the pan and serve it scooped directly from the pan. It may not look like you expected, but it will taste the same! (This method also works for tiny bundt cakes.)

How to Prevent a Cake from Sticking

Grease the pan.

Be sure to thoroughly coat the pan, whether it’s with butter, oil, shortening, or cooking spray. Be careful to get the corners and edges using a pastry brush, your fingers, a paper towel, or even the wrapper from a stick of butter!

Sprinkle with flour.

After the pan has been greased, sprinkle in a little flour, then tilt the pan every which way so that the flour is evenly distributed. If you’re coating a decorative bundt pan, make sure that you’ve gotten into all of the nooks and crannies. After uniformly dusting the cake pan with flour, flip it and tap gently to remove any excess. This flour layer acts as an additional liner to keep the cake batter from sticking.

Line with parchment.

Cut parchment paper to the size of the flat bottom of your pan. Before beginning the recipe, make sure the parchment is level and wrinkle-free. When cooking cheesecake in a springform pan, this is very simple.

Grease and flour the parchment.

This isn’t really essential since paper is nonstick, but it may be useful. Grease the parchment and dust with flour, or use a cooking spray that contains flour.

The Pioneer Woman Mini Spatula Set

TPastry Brushes with Hardwood Handles

Great Value Non-Stick Parchment Paper

Pam No-Stick Baking Spray