How to Remove Cake From a Pan Without Breaking

You love cakes! Whether it’s angel food cake, pound cake, chocolate cake, or another kind, you love eating them, sharing them, and best of all, baking them! But have you ever baked a cake only to have it fall apart when removing it from the pan? It happens more often than you believe. This article will tell you the best ways to remove a cake from a cake pan without it breaking as well as some baking tips to help you bake the best cake possible to impress all of your friends and family.

How do you remove cake from a pan without breaking it? The best way to remove cake from a pan without breaking is to allow the cake to cool down and run a knife or spatula along the edges of the cake where it meets the pan. This will help to loosen the cake from the pan, letting it come out cleanly.

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How to remove cake from a pan without breaking

Imagine that you have spent a lot of time preparing and baking the perfect cake only for you to take it out of the oven and it is stuck in the pan! What can you do?

There are several ways that you can try to save your cake, but note that not every method will be successful for every cake. It depends on your type of cake and how stuck it is. Try the following methods to see which ones work for you so you can use them again and again with all your cake recipes.

Allow the cake to cool down

One of the best ways to try to remove a stuck cake is to let it cool down first. You don’t want to remove a hot cake from a baking pan. When your cake is hot, the crumb texture is very delicate and the crumbly cake will pull apart from itself very easily. The longer you let your cake cool down, the more solidified it will become, giving you a much higher chance of getting your cake out breakage-free!

You can either choose to let your cake cool down at room temperature or in the fridge. You can even let your cake sit out overnight as long as it’s not perishable. The more solid your cake is the less likely it is to break. Note that if your cake has items mixed in like fruit pieces and nuts, you’ll want to cool the cake but remove it while it’s still warm or the pieces may contribute to the sticking.

For the majority of cakes, you should give your cake at least 30 minutes to cool down before attempting to remove it from the pan. Not only will this help to prevent breaking but it will also allow you to decorate the cake without the icing melting.

If you are planning on letting your cake cool down at room temperature, place your cake (still in the cake pan) on a wire rack to cool. This will allow cool air to circulate around the pan, cooling it down evenly from all angles, including the sides of the pan and the bottom of the pan, where the majority of the sticking is likely to occur.

Use a knife or spatula

To ensure that your cake doesn’t stick to the sides of the cake pan, place your cake on a firm flat surface such as the countertop and carefully run a knife or spatula around the inside edges of the pan. This will help loosen any parts of the cake that are stuck and stop the cake from pulling and breaking when you remove it from the pan.

An offset spatula is a great option for cake removal. This tool works better for removal than a small butter knife. Plus it’s good for moving batter around and moving icing in a circular motion.

A rubber spatula may be the best option for very soft and delicate cakes so you don’t cut them during the removal process.

If you have a regular round pan, a square cake pan, or a bundt pan, then this will be a much easier task than if you have a decorative tin.

In this case, try gently tapping the tin using a wooden spoon or your hand or shaking the pan a little to gradually loosen any stuck parts of the cake. You can turn the cake upside-down and hopefully see the cake slide out.

Hot water method

Another way to remove a cake from the pan is to use hot water. Pour hot water onto a kitchen towel (preferably in your kitchen sink so as not to make a mess and burn yourself). Remove the excess water and place the towel on top of the cake pan.

Ensure the towel covers the entire pan so that the steam will build up. The trapped steam will loosen the cake making it easier to remove.

How to stop a cake from sticking to the pan

In truth, the best way to remove your cake from the cake pan without breaking is to properly prepare the pan before you bake the cake. By using the right pan and preparation methods you will be able to remove your baked cake with ease and with no risk of breaking.

Grease your cake pan

If you are using a decorative or oddly-shaped cake pan, then you may not be able to line your cake pan using a piece of parchment paper.

In this instance, you should add a thin layer of butter (or margarine) to the inside of your cake pan. You can also coat your pan with vegetable oil, a nonstick spray, or vegetable shortening.

Be sure to apply it all over the pan’s sides and the edge of the pan, which can often be missed. Use a pastry brush to make an even layer and don’t put too much because you don’t want it to burn in the oven.

You can choose to add extra flour or icing sugar on top of the layer of butter too. This is a great method for decorative pans as you can apply the butter to all nooks and crannies of the pan.

Again, this will act as a greasy layer between the pan and your cake, helping you to remove the whole cake cleanly and without breaking.

Line your cake pan

You can also use pre-cut greaseproof paper often called parchment paper or cake liners. These act as a greasy layer between your cake and the pan allowing you to easily remove it from the pan. The paper should be applied to fit both the bottom of your cake pan as well as the outside.

You can actually buy parchment rounds precut to fit your pan or trace your pan and cut it out of the paper yourself. If you decide to both grease and line your pan, you should grease your pan first, line the cake pan, then grease the liner.

Flour your cake pan

Sometimes greasing and/or lining the pan is not enough. Certain types of cake batter will slide on the grease.

Therefore, many bakers choose to add a layer of flour to the cake pan as well. Add a light coat of flour moving it around to cover all sides. Then be sure to shake out or remove the excess flour before moving forward.

Use the right equipment

Another option is to use the right equipment. For example, you might want to use a springform pan. This works just like a regular cake pan but has the added benefit that you don’t have to flip the cake over or lift it to remove it.

The pan has a latch to loosen the removable sides and bottom, which makes it easy to put the cake right onto a serving plate when it’s ready. This is a favorite to use when making cheesecake, tarts, and ice cream cakes.

If you are using a high-quality cake pan, then the chances of your cake sticking (and breaking) are significantly lower than using a cheap pan. If you are using a metal cake pan, then look for a good quality pan as this will make your life much easier in the long run. 

Another option is to use silicone baking products. Silicone is very flexible so you will need to account for this when baking. However, this also means that you can bend the cake pan off of your cake and it also acts as a non-stick pan.

Even with silicone cake pans, it is still best to let your cake cool down before removing it, but silicone is generally a much easier material to work with, especially for more decorative or oddly-shaped cakes.

A third option is to use non-stick baking pans. While some traditional bakers dislike this type of pan, they’re a practical option that can make removal easier for you.

A non-stick bundt cake pan can be a lifesaver! You should still grease your non-stick pan or use parchment paper with it to help the cake removal process.

Final thoughts and tips

If you are baking a cake, whether for yourself, friends or family, you naturally want the cake to come out perfect. Decorations can hide a multitude of sins, but you may want the cake itself to be beautiful and not have to cover it with a layer of icing. 

So learning how to stop your cake from sticking to the pan, and what to do when it does, is vital to baking. Use the best equipment you have and prepare your pan properly so you can remove your perfect and delicious cake.

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