A warm buttery perfume fills your kitchen. Through the oven window lies a perfect golden crust. Your Bundt is done. The dreaded fear of not successfully turning it out of the pan has been subdued thanks to our post: How to prevent your Bundt from sticking. But lo and behold, you try to remove the pan — and it won’t budge. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a stuck Bundt.
After some digging, banging, and possibly tears, you're left with cake chunks and a pile of crumbs — which isn't exactly the classic, elegant dessert you were going for. Oh, the inhumanity of a stuck Bundt!
Why is my Bundt stuck?
Even with proper greasing, there are some cakes that just want to cling. This can happen for several different reasons; here are some of the most common culprits.
All those beautiful nooks and crannies can turn into a headache if that Bundt pan won't let go of your cake. Thoroughly greasing the pan right before pouring your cake batter into it will improve the odds of an easy release.
Why just before adding the batter? We've found that many Bundt pans are so non-stick that the pan spray runs down the sides and puddles in the bottom if left sitting too long. Best to spritz with non-stick spray and add batter to the pan in quick succession.
In a 10-cup pan, the batter will rise and bake up in the oven with lots of support from the pan's center and outer edges to keep it from deflating. However, in a 15-cup pan, the cake is going to be short and stout. There's a good chance the batter will cling to whatever part of the pan it can reach; and since it won't be rising as high in the pan it'll essentially glue itself to the sides to keep from collapsing.
I know we all try to clean Bundt pans as best we can, but sometimes that tacky residue, or the crumbs in those tiny crevices, just don't want to budge despite a good dose of elbow grease.
Any pan-spray residue or general buildup will reheat when you bake again, turning into sticky cake-glue that will refuse to let go of your delicious Bundt. Dawn Power Dissolver is very popular in our test kitchen when grime is particularly stubborn. Also, Nordic Ware just started carrying a Bundt Brush, a new favorite tool of our Sift editor, Susan Reid.
So you've followed every direction to a T, and you still end up with a stuck Bundt? We've got you covered. Here are some tips for getting a stubborn Bundt cake out of its pan in one piece — meltdown-free!
Now that we've discovered the potential cause for this baker's nightmare, let's get these cakes out, shall we?
Stuck Bundt solution #1: Cake seems tense? Try a relaxing steam
Before attempting to bang the cake out of the pan, which will consequently end in a mess, let's try a gentler approach: a nice steamy bath! All it may take for those stubborn crumbs to let go and set this Bundt free is a little hot water.
Make a "nest" with a large bath towel in the bottom of your kitchen sink, drain closed. Bring a teakettle's worth of water to a boil and carefully pour it over the bath towel.
Add hot water from your faucet until you have a good 3" worth.
Cover the pan with foil. This both traps steam in the pan, and keeps the cake protected from potential splashes. Soggy cakes are sad cakes.
Carefully place the pan in the "nest," taking care not to get burned by the water or the pan if it's still hot. Manipulate the towel with tongs to cover the sides of the Bundt pan if needed. Lay a dry towel over the sink to trap steam and wait 15 minutes.
As a result of the hot and steamy environment we created, the cake should easily release. Plus, if you lose the towel and add a little soap, your sink is ready for dishes!
Stuck Bundt solution #2: In need of a little oven lovin'
Let the Bundt cool for about 30 minutes on your counter. Preheat your oven to 250°F.
Take the cake out of the oven and carefully turn it over onto a cooling rack. It should release with nothing more than a little jiggling. (This particular cake did still stick a bit; but at least it's basically intact! Icing to the rescue!)
Stuck Bundt solution #3: Clear a spot in your freezer
This is an idea to try if you greased your pan with a non-stick spray or a liquid oil. If you used butter or any other solid fat to grease your Bundt pan, freezing could solidify any residual fat and cause it to stick even more. If that's the case, one of the first two solutions may be the better choice.
Cool the cake for an hour on the counter.
Freeze the cake in the pan for 1 to 2 hours.
Run a flexible spatula or nylon knife around the edges of the pan — don't forget the center tube! Since the cake has firmed up in the freezer, it's easier to work the spatula around it without potentially damaging the design.
Turn the pan over onto a cooling rack and your cake should drop out with a tap or two.
- We recommend allowing all Bundt cakes to rest in their pan for about 10 minutes before turning the pan over onto a cooling rack. Some recipes will say to turn it out immediately — those would be the only exceptions for this rule.
- It can help to run an offset spatula around the edges of your pan, between pan and cake, right after removing the cake from the oven. If the cake is only slightly stuck, this can release those few sticking points before even attempting to flip the pan.
- Some of these techniques can take time to come to fruition. If time is of the essence and these tips don't work, no one will complain if you turn that stuck Bundt into a delicious Trifle with some fresh fruit and cream!
We did it!
Whew! I think we all deserve a relaxing steam after that ordeal — or maybe a nice slice of cake! Is it greedy to want both? Nah. Happy baking!
If you've ever had a cake stick, let us know how you remedied it in the comments below!
Thanks to Anne Mientka for taking the photographs for this blog post.