Many factors go into making the perfect cake-like whipping egg whites to just the right peak to achieve the perfect springy bake. One of the simplest steps is also the most important: properly preparing your cake pan. If your pan isn’t adequately greased and lined, your cake will definitely stick. Nothing’s sadder than spoiling a gorgeous cake by turning the pan over and watching as only half comes out and the rest stays behind.
Our Test Kitchen shares the secrets of how to grease a cake pan the proper way. (Spoiler alert: it takes more than just grease.) Read on!
Butter, shortening, cooking spray, or a cooking spray with flour in it, such as Baker’s Joy
Cake pan (check your recipe for the proper size and type!)
Step 1: Grease the pan
Tear a square of parchment paper (or a piece of paper towel in a pinch). Put a generous dollop of grease on one side and get a grip on the opposite side, keeping your hand clean. Smear grease over every inch of the inside of the pan: the bottom, sides and corners. Be generous!
If you’re using a spray, this step is simple: just liberally spray all over the pan. If you’ve got a spray with flour in it, you can skip ahead to No. 3!
Step 2: Flour the Pan
Flour will stick to the grease adding an extra layer of protection between pan and cake. Flouring is satisfying but it can get messy; we suggest wearing an apron and working over the sink.
Take a spoonful of flour and hold it evenly over the pan. Shake your wrist to send the flour showering down into the pan. It probably won’t disperse very evenly at this point; don’t worry. Take the pan over to your sink and tilt it back and forth, hitting the bottom or sides as needed to shake up drifts of flour and send them to sparser areas. Once your pan looks about evenly covered, turn it upside down and gently rap the bottom to shake out any excess.
Step 3: Line the pan
Lining the pan is a step that can feel unnecessary after you’ve greased it already. But trust us, it’s worth it!
(Note: some recipes call for only greasing and flouring a pan, while some call for greasing and lining. You can follow your recipe, or do all of the steps here to be extra sure your cake won’t stick.)
The only real challenge in lining a pan is cutting paper to fit. While you can buy precut parchment circles, many of us prefer to spend our mad money on chocolate. So take your regular old parchment and a pair of sharp scissors.
You can lay the parchment flat under the pan. Trace around the pan, and cut a circle slightly smaller than your line.
Or try this nifty magic trick. Stretch a piece of parchment long enough to fit the pan. Cut, fold in half, then fold in half again. Fold into a triangle (it won’t be perfect), keeping the folded sides together. Fold into another triangle, again with the folded sides together. Tip your pan over, set the point at the center of the bottom. Hold it there and cut off the extra length. When you unfold the paper, you’ll have a circle the size of your pan!
Step 4: Grease (and flour!) the lining
Yep, you’ll want to grease the lining. Follow steps one and two.
Step 5: Triumph in your clean cake release!
After you bake, gently turn the pan over to release the cake. It will slip out easily. Pull off the parchment circle smoothly. Your double greasing will come in handy here, as you won’t lose a bite of crust.
Ready to bake? Try one of these classic cakes from scratch.