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Baking Tips

Help, My Cake Is Stuck!

Don’t panic. We have some tips to help you out of this sticky situation in one piece.

Published June 5, 2023.

Baking a cake from scratch is no small feat. You spent the time assembling the ingredients, mixing the batter, and baking the cake. Once it’s out of the oven, it’s time for the big reveal. You’re ready to flip the cake out of its pan. But nothing happens.

To your horror, you realize it’s stuck. We’ve all been there.

Don't panic. Here are five ways to unstick your cake. Although we bake cakes in various size pans—8- or 9-inch rounds, 8 by 8-Inch square baking pans, 13 by 9-Inch baking dishes, springform pans, and bundt pans—these tips work with any pan.

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1. Let the cake fully cool

Ensure your cake is completely cool before you remove it. When a cake is hot it is softer, because the gelated starch and gluten are both more malleable at higher temps. As the cake cools down, it firms up and should be easier to deal with. Let your cake cool on a wire rack, which allows the bottom of the pan to cool, the part of the cake most likely to stick.

2. Gently loosen the edges of the cake

Run a butter knife or a mini offset spatula (a duller tool is less likely to scratch the pan) between the cake and the pan, gently loosening the cake as you go.

3. Flip the cake over (carefully!)

Place a large plate over the cake. With both hands securely holding the plate and the cake pan tightly together, flip the cake. Tap on the bottom of the pan gently until it releases onto the plate.

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4. Freeze the cake, if necessary

If it’s a really stubborn cake, freeze the cake and pan for at least six hours. Then use a spatula to loosen the cake from the walls and slide under the cake. 

Because a frozen cake is less likely to break, you can slide the spatula under the cake and use leverage to lift it slightly. If you keep doing this around the edges of the cake, eventually the cake should release.

5. When in doubt, cover it up

If a piece of the cake breaks along the way, stick it back together as best you can and cover it with buttercream. No one will ever know, and it will taste just as delicious.

Looking to avoid this situation in the future? For round cake pans, use the triple nonstick technique. For a square or rectangular baking pan or a loaf pan, use the sling method. For a bundt pan, use an ample amount of baking spray with flour.

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