Baking Cakes That Never Stick To The Pan

how to bake cake that releases from pan

Call me a perfectionist, but I am always smitten by cakes that come out of the pan so perfectly baked that the sides are straight and sharp. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen so many cake pan horror shows in my day (my own in the early days, and every now and then via photos my friends share with me). Just a few months ago a friend texted a photo of her husband’s birthday cake post-oven and it was a doozy. Even though she greased and floured the sides of the pan, for some reason the cake decided to stick to bottom of the pan and leave her with a crumbled mess. All the buttercream in the world couldn’t hide it’s imperfections

To spare you from such a common cake-tastrophe as this, allow me to tell you about my method for preparing cake pans that I’ve found to work every time, no matter the recipe. I’ve tried the whole grease-and-flour deal, but honestly, I feel like every time I prepare my pans that way the cake edges end up baking inward and away from the pan, making the sides look crooked. Since I like a nice, straight edge on my cakes, here’s what I do:

You will need:

  • Cake pans
  • Baker’s Joy (preferred) or another type of baking spray, like Pam
  • Wax paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Cake batter of choice
  • Paring knife
  • Two plates or cardboard cake circles  

Step 1: Make Some Wax Paper Circles

Placing your cake pan over a clean sheet of wax paper, use a pencil to trace the edge. Cut out your circle and you’ll have a perfectly-sized barrier for the bottom of your cake pan.

how to prepare cake pans

Step 2: Spray

Over a sink, spray the sides of your cake pan so they’re lightly coated.

best spray for preparing cake pans

Baker’s Joy is my favorite, but you can use canola oil, Pam, or any sort of oil/spray designed for greasing a cake pan.

Step 3: Assemble

After your sides are sprayed, place your wax paper circle on the bottom of the cake pan before pouring your batter in. Depending on the recipe, I usually fill my cake pans ⅔ of the way full to ensure a nice, tall layer that doesn’t overflow during the baking process.

how full to fill cake pans

Step 4: Release

After you’ve baked your cake and confirmed that it’s thoroughly baked by inserting a toothpick into the center, remove it from the oven and let it cool in the pan for about five minutes. Using a paring knife, gently wedge between the cake and the side of the cake pan and carve around, making sure you don’t puncture the sides of the cake.

how to release cake from pan

Place something flat, like a plate or a cardboard cake circle, over the top of the cake and flip the whole pan so that it’s upside down. Make sure you’re wearing oven mits so you don’t burn your fingers on the pan!

Gently slide the pan away from the upside-down cake layer. Place another plate or cardboard cake circle on the bottom of the cake layer and flip it upright. From here, continue to cool the cake until it’s room temperature before torting, frosting, or whatever you’d like to do next!

how to bake even cake layers


  1. Your website is beautiful and your pictures are so great! Congrats!

    Have you ever had any issues with wax transfer to your cakes using this method? I’ve read that this can happen if wax paper is exposed to high temps (and can also smoke!). Wax paper seems to be more available and cheaper than parchment, but I have been reluctant to use it for baking!

    • Hi there! Thank you so much for your kind words!

      I’ve been using wax paper to line my cake pans for many years and have never had an issue with wax transfers, ever. I think I started using it because I ran out of parchment paper at one point and since there has never been an issue, I never looked back 🙂

  2. This was my first time not using a box mix, so I was super excited to find this recipe!

    I followed everything exactly, using three 6” pans. After 30-35 min, they were no where near done. I had to bake an extra 15 min for the toothpick to come out clean. My oven was definitely preheated. Any thoughts on why this happened?

    • Hi Lisa, the only thing I can think of is to check your oven temperature using an oven-safe thermometer. Sometimes the display will read one temperature, but the oven itself is not the correct temperature (which leads to a longer bake time). I hope the cake ended up being tasty regardless!

    • Hi Shildrey! The cake stand was a gift from my sis in law years ago and it’s no longer available on Amazon :/ BUT there are tons of similar ones on Amazon if you search for “wood marble cake stand”

  3. Aashiqui Viera Ramith

    Hi there! I was just wondering what the recipe is for the cake in the pictures attached to this post?

  4. Dina Scarber

    I bought 12 in pans to make a 3 layer naked cake. Are those too big? And can you help me figure the recipe you have for that.

    • Hi Dina, it depends on how many servings you’re planning on making. I usually make all of my cakes in three 6-inch pans, and that size serves about 15 people comfortably. Three 12 inch layers will feed quite a lot of people. You’ll need to double any of my cake recipes to make enough batter for three 12 inch pans:

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