How to Release a Stuck Cake from a Pan

Here's the solution to every baker's worst nightmare.

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Picture this: You've mixed the ultimate vanilla cake batter or a fudgy, decadent devil's food cake, poured it into the cake pan, slid said pan onto the oven rack, and set the timer. When the cake is baked and has cooled a little, it's time to release it from the cake pan. You flip the cake pan over onto a platter or cake stand and expect the cake to slide out seamlessly but it doesn't budge. Maybe you give it a pat or two to try to encourage it to fall gracefully, but it still resists. This scenario is every cake baker's worst nightmare, and it will have you wondering what you can do to get a stuck cake out of a pan or Bundt?

Ahead, we're explaining how to prevent this dreadful situation and what to do when you find yourself, well, stuck.

bundt cake in pan on cooling rack
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How to Properly Grease a Cake Pan

In order to prevent a cake from sticking to a pan, start by properly and thoroughly greasing the cake pan. "Grease and line your pans—this is your insurance policy," says Odette Williams, baker, writer, and author of Simple Cake: All You Need to Keep Your Friends and Family in Cake ($13.99, "If you do this, you shouldn't have an issue." There are so many different nonstick options on the market—from round Silpat cake liners ($15.65, to baking spray, but Williams prefers the old-fashioned method of using parchment paper and butter. She starts by greasing the pan with butter and then cuts a piece of parchment that is slightly smaller than the size of the pan you're baking with. Place the parchment inside the greased pan and tuck it in so that it is flush with the bottom of the cake pan. With this so-called insurance policy in place, you should never experience a cake sticking to a pan again. For a Bundt cake pan, our food editors recommend greasing it first generously with softened butter and then an even coating of flour.

It's also important to let the cake fully cool before trying to remove it from the pan. If it still feels warm to the touch, it will be more susceptible to breaking while you are flipping it onto a stand or platter. Make sure that it has cooled fully (this could take up to an hour) before trying to transfer it.

Oh No, It's Stuck!

It's happened to the best of us, so what do you do when a cake is stuck to a cake pan or Bundt cake pan? Williams recommends running a butter knife around the perimeter of the cake, gently pressing into the cake to lift it off the edges and center before inverting it. This is especially useful when working with a Bundt cake pan that has lots of nooks and crannies where the cake can potentially get stuck. "Once you go to invert the cake, make the distance from the pan to stand as short as possible to avoid breakage," she says.

If the cake breaks as you're transferring it, stop moving it and grab a spatula to help gently lift the cake. If it still shows signs of breakage, Williams recommends using a fluffy buttercream to seal the cracks and conceal what's underneath. "Garnish with fresh edible flowers that make it look like it's intentional," she says.

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