Making a cake from scratch is quite fulfilling, until your cake fails to behave as planned! We’ve all been there: you take your handmade cake out of the oven, it looks and smells delicious, and you’re ecstatic… until you attempt 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!
A stuck cake may be very stressful no matter what kind of cake you’re making—whether it’s 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. Yet there is some good news: not everything is gone! You can still save your cake if it breaks. Read on and we’ll break it down: how to remove a cake from a pan, what to do if it’s stuck, and how to prevent it sticking next time!
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.
It’s also worth noting that your cake should be completely cooked (a toothpick should come out clean and the top should spring back to the touch). An under-baked cake will be tricky to remove intact.
Loosen the edges.
To release the cake, run a thin, sharp knife or an offset spatula around the edge. Do this slowly and take care to not 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 your cake does not fall out after inverting it, wait a minute and try gently tapping the inverted bottom of the pan or shaking the pan slightly to see if these motions help release the cake. Hopefully gravity will come to the rescue.
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. Set a basin of ice-cold water on top of the inverted pan to assist firm the bottom of the cake, which may help it fall out or build 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.
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 coat the pan completely, whether it’s with butter, oil, shortening, or cooking spray. Use a pastry brush, your fingers, a paper towel or even the wrapper from a stick of butter and make sure you get the corners and edges!
Sprinkle with flour.
After sprinkling a little flour into the pan, tilt it in all directions to ensure that the flour is equally spread. When coating a decorative bundt pan, be sure to get into all of the nooks and crevices. After uniformly dusting the cake pan with flour, flip it and tap gently to remove any excess. This layer of flour creates an extra lining to prevent the cake batter from sticking.
Line with parchment.
Cut parchment paper to fit the size of your pan’s flat bottom. 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.