To kick off January, I mentioned wanting to switch things up a bit around here this year. One of my primary objectives for 2014 is to take The Sweetest Occasion to the next level by not only sharing parties, recipes, projects and ideas that I hope will inspire you to celebrate more in your every day life, but also working to provide you with the tools to get there, breaking things down and showing you just how simple it can be to live a party-filled life. Part one in that effort is this new little how-to series. Every other Thursday I’ll be sharing one of my go-to tricks or tips with you. These are all simple, easy things I find useful in my day to day world that I hope you might find helpful, too, whether it be kitchen tricks or entertaining tips. First up, today I’m sharing how to get a cake out of a pan without it sticking! (Because you know there ain’t nobody out there who likes a busted up cake.)
I started making homemade cakes for my friends’ birthdays back in college. I was the first one who had my own apartment and while funds were limited, I loved baking a cake and jazzing up my tiny abode with bunting made from scraps in the studio come time to celebrate a birthday. While I’m not a cake decorator by any stretch (I like them simple and tasty more so than all jazzed up with sugar flowers), I’ve made a lot of cakes in my day. Learning how to get the darn cakes out of the pan without them falling apart was the first step in becoming a cake-baking whizz and I’m happy to report that it’s crazy easy to do.
- Parchment paper
- Shortening or butter
Begin by stocking your kitchen with parchment paper and vowing never to live without it again. If you haven’t yet discovered the wonders of parchment paper, consider this part one in your education. Using a pencil, trace the bottom of your cake pans onto the parchment paper and then cut them out. I cut just inside the line that I traced to ensure a nice fit, but no worries if your circle isn’t perfect or if the size is off a bit. There’s room for error here!
Next up, place the parchment paper circles in the bottom of your pans and grease everything with shortening or butter. I find both work perfectly and while I generally reach for the vegetable shortening, I’ll use butter if that’s all I have in the house. Don’t put it on too thick, just grease everything with a skim coat and call it good.
Now it’s time to flour your pans! Even when a recipe only calls for the pans to be greased (versus greased and floured), I always grease and flour cake pans. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of flour into the bottom of your pan and then rotate the pan to ensure both the bottom and the sides are floured. I usually work with the first pan over the second so the excess falls right into the second pan.
And it’s that easy! Now it’s time to load your pans up with the batter and bake ‘em up. Once you pull the cakes from the oven, allow them to cool slightly for 10 – 15 minutes. I usually toss mine on a wire rack so the bottom of the pan cools a little quicker. (And, yes, I’ve been known to toss them in the freezer for a few minutes if I’m in a time crunch, but slow and steady is always the best policy with cakes if you can manage it.)
After the cakes have cooled slightly, grab a rubber spatula and run it along the edge of your pan to release any areas that may have stuck a bit. Then simply tip the pan over, tapping the bottom slightly to release the cake. I usually do this directly into my hand and then set the cake back onto the wire rack to finish cooling, but you could also tap it out onto your counter and then transfer it to the rack. Remember to allow your cake to cool completely, as in 100%, before frosting. Otherwise, your frosting will melt and get all ick instead of sitting up pretty on the cake. And, you know, ain’t nobody out there who loves a cake with icky frosting.
I hope you find this new series helpful! As we go along, be sure to chime in and let me know if there’s some nagging thing that just drives you absolutely nuts. (Like toilet paper hung the wrong way on the holder. Which just drives me bonkers. But I don’t have a trick for avoiding that one, sadly.) If I don’t have a trick, I’ll try to do some experimenting to figure out a solution to include in a future post. In the meantime, cheers to non-busted cakes!
[Photos by Cyd Converse for The Sweetest Occasion.]