What's the Best Way to Grease a Cake Pan?
After you've measured and mixed together ingredients, baked, and cooled a cake, the last thing you want is for it to get stuck in the pan. Thankfully, prepping a cake pan to help prevent this from happening is fairly straightforward, and you have several options for getting the job done. Rubbing a stick of cold butter around the pan, applying melted butter with a pastry brush, using an oil-based spray, and spreading vegetable shortening like Crisco around using a paper towel are all common methods for greasing a pan, but which one is best? For answers, we turned to the experts and asked them to weigh in on the best technique.
"You need a layer of fat in between a metal pan and gluten and sugar so that your cake will release from the pan after it's baked!" Joy Wilson, cookbook author, baking instructor, and the blogger behind Joy the Baker, says. "Everything caramelizes in the pan when it heats, so you need that layer to help it release." Wilson's everyday go-to for greasing cake pans is Baker's Joy ($2.44, walmart.com), a nonstick baking spray with flour mixed in. However, if she's doing a lot of cake baking in one day, she uses a mixture that her dad (who's also a baker) taught her known as "Miracle Cake Pan." "It's equal parts flour, vegetable oil, and vegetable shortening," Wilson says. "You mix it all together and use a pastry brush to brush it into cake pans. It's perfect!"
Stephen Chavez, chef-instructor of pastry and baking arts at the Institute of Culinary Education, is also a fan of baking spray. "I have used most all methods, however, I find that spray works best," he says. Canola oil-based sprays are his preference, though olive oil sprays can also be used (but can impart a flavor to your baked good, which might not be ideal). "I don't like using hydrogenated fats, such as Crisco, for greasing pans because they turn to oil too quickly and compromise the batter," he adds.
A well-greased cake pan should help your cake release from the pan smoothly, but if you want extra insurance, parchment paper is your friend. "I always use parchment paper for the bottom of pans," Chavez says. "Typically I use the 'SPS method' which is spray, paper, spray." Spray the cake pan with nonstick spray, place a piece of parchment paper that's been cut to fit the bottom of the pan on top, then spray the parchment paper. "Parchment paper is usually silicone treated, so the extra spray is not always necessary, but it certainly doesn't hurt." he says. Wilson doesn't always use parchment paper, but she'll use it for special occasion cakes (so she knows her confections will turn out perfect) or if she knows the cake is going to be sticky on the bottom.
Lastly, if you're using an intricate cake mold with a lot of nooks and crannies, our experts advise using a nonstick spray with flour already in it or spraying the pan then lightly dusting it with flour to ensure a proper release.