If you’ve ever wondered how to prep a cake pan so that your cake comes out perfectly every time, look no further than my two favorite pan prep techniques! You just need a few simple ingredients, some parchment paper, and some scissors. The technique that will work best depends on the type of cake pan that you are using. Seriously-these techniques are foolproof and my cakes practically FALL out of the pan! If you follow my tips, your cakes will never stick to the pan again either.
Eliminating the Baking Mess
Baking is a messy proposition. Flour everywhere, measuring cups and spoons, eggs, butter, so on and so on. Splashes of flour, floury handprints, cake batter flying out of the mixing bowl if you turn the mixer on just a speck too high…hopefully, the mess is worth the clean-up when you get to taste the finished product.
The problem is, the most delicious recipe can turn into an even bigger mess if the cake pan is not properly prepared. Before I learned of this technique, I can’t tell you how many cakes I baked that ended up stuck to the pan, me stuck running my knife round and round the pan and shaking furiously, only to end up with large chunks of the cake left in the pan and big holes left in my cake, making it necessary for me to piece the cake back together with icing, leaving a terrible mess worthy of Cake Wrecks.
What’s more is that the traditional method most people use to prep a cake pan was just about as infuriating as having a cake stuck to the pan. Shortening or butter in the pan and shake flour around in it (or cake mix, if you’re making a boxed cake). I never felt that the pan got sufficiently coated and I always found that little balls of flour seemed to settle around the pan, usually leaving icky pockets of dry flour stuck to the top of the cake.
Luckily, after some experimentation in the kitchen, a cake decorating class long before my Chattavore days, and lots of time watching Nigella Lawson and Alton Brown, I have perfected how to prep a cake pan for baking. Now my cakes never stick, and clean-up is so easy!
How to Prep a Round Cake Pan
- Fold a sheet of parchment paper (I prefer Reynolds parchment paper sheets) into quarters.
- Fold the sheet in half corner to corner (there may be some overhang if your sheet is rectangular to begin with.
- Fold the sheet in half corner to corner one more time.
- Place the point in the center of the pan and make a mark with a pencil where the parchment meets the edge of the pan.
- Cut at the mark you made, making a slightly rounded cut.
- Butter the bottom of the pan.
- Unfold the parchment and press into the pan. If it goes up the sides, you can use a paring knife to score and cut off the edges if you would like (I rarely bother).
- Butter the top of the parchment paper and proceed with the recipe.
You can use this same technique to line a square baking pan; just fold the sheet of parchment into a square instead of a triangle and cut off any overhang.
My second technique for prepping a cake pan is perfect for rectangular pans and bundt pans. You can use parchment paper for a rectangular pan if you like, but I usually just use my homemade cake release. It’s also great for bundt pans and SO much less tricky and messy than the usual butter and flour technique. This homemade cake release is kind of like homemade Baker’s Joy, if you are familiar with that. The homemade cake release can also be used to prep a round cake pan or a square cake pan.
How to Make and Use Homemade Cake Release
- In a small bowl, mix together equal parts all-purpose flour, neutral oil (vegetable or canola oil), and solid fat (shortening or coconut oil, which is what I use). Use a spoon to “mash” the ingredients together until no lumps remain from the solid fat.
- Use a pastry brush to brush the mixture all over the inside of the pan that you are prepping. Make sure that you apply the cake release liberally so that every bit of the inside of the pan is completely coated!
- Follow the recipe as directed. After baking, run a knife along the edge of the cake and turn the cake upside down onto a cooling rack. It should come right out!
- Store any leftover homemade cake release in a jar or other airtight container in a dark, cool area. Do not make a large amount of this at one time unless you do a significant amount of baking, because the oils will go rancid fairly quickly. For one cake, I usually mix together 1-2 tablespoons of each ingredient.
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