Bundt cake blunders and how to avoid them
February 7, 2011 3:17 AM   Subscribe

Cakefilter: Bundt cake blunders and how to avoid them. Or, help me make the best birthday cake ever!

I am making a birthday cake next week. I'm using this recipe, in a bundt pan. I've made it before and it was great (and very easy) so I'm not worried about that. But the last time I made it, I cooled it for like 30 minutes and it still broke into about 3 pieces when I turned it out. And there was lots of cake left stuck to the pan too. I had greased and cocoa-ed the pan before, but apparently bundt cakes are notoriously difficult to get cakes out of intact. What tricks am I missing? If worst comes to worst and it does break, how can I rescue it?

Also, I need to make a sort of glaze or ganache for the top but I've never made one before, are these difficult and can you suggest some good recipes? And how much should I make? I don't want to coat the entire cake, just dribble a little over the top. I don't really think it needs icing but this was a request.
posted by Ziggy500 to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What type of bundt pan do you have? I have a silicone pan that I've had good luck with, because I can bend it as I slowly I work the cake out.

Have you tried not dusting the pan with flour or cocoa? I guess the purpose is to prevent the cake from soaking up too much Pam, but it also seems like it will reduce the amount of slip that the Pam provides.

There's a good chocolate/coffee ganache recipe here.
posted by neushoorn at 3:52 AM on February 7, 2011

Have some pudding and whipped cream on hand in case of breakage. Go with the flow. If it breaks, make a trifle instead. No one ever complains about trifle.
posted by spinturtle at 3:54 AM on February 7, 2011

Best answer: "... I cooled it for like 30 minutes ..."

Cool much longer (at least an hour), to room temperature. Many cakes will firm up considerably as they cool.

Also, in my experience, if you're using a thin stamped steel bundt pan, you'll have better luck scrapping that in favor of a thicker cast aluminum one, or even a heavier guage steel one.
posted by paulsc at 4:21 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Try some Wilton Cake Release.
posted by candyland at 5:13 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

We always use Baker's Joy spray when we make bundt cakes. I'm not sure how it would work if your cake pan needs to be cocoa-ed, but I've never had a problem getting a cake out since I started using it. I can usually find it in any decent grocery store in the Midwest.
posted by honeybee413 at 5:37 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You have to let it cool completely (with the pan on a wire rack, or balanced on a bottleneck that lets air circulate around the bottom of the pan), not just 30 minutes, before you try to get the cake out of the pan. I've found sufficiently buttering/greasing and flouring/cocoaing the pan is more than enough to get a clean release if you allow the cake to cool completely.

This can present a problem if your icing is the sort of icing which needs a warm cake, in order to make it drip prettily over the cake. I don't have a solution to that.
posted by crush-onastick at 5:52 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have had this exact same problem recently, except my cakes are gluten free and have to come out of the pan quickly so they don't get gooey. My mom suggests using a bit of the mixed up dry ingredients instead of cocoa or flour to flour the pan.

If I could use flour, though, I'd use the Bakers' Joy type sprays. Those always worked well for me before.
posted by sugarfish at 6:02 AM on February 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks guys! I'm in the UK and haven't found any kind of baking spray in any of the major stores.

I will definitely take on board the helpful advice, but if anyone can tell me a UK equivalent to Pam and Bakers' Joy that would be amazing.
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:48 AM on February 7, 2011

If you can't find a spray, then grease the pan and then also coat it with flour. To do that, put about 3 tablespoons of flour in the pan, then toss / rotate the pan to coat. Remove the excess flour by tapping / smacking the pan. You should be left with a thin, even coat of flour. In my experience this will lead to a much better release than greasing alone.

Baker's Joy is basically just grease and flour mixed in a spray can.
posted by jedicus at 7:03 AM on February 7, 2011

Also, are you using butter to grease the pan or what? Butter contains about 20% water, which can cause problems, especially if you let the cake cool completely. Specifically it can lead to a sticky, gummy layer on the bottom (which becomes the top in this case). That might be part of the problem you're having with releasing the cake. I recommend greasing with a pure fat like shortening.
posted by jedicus at 7:06 AM on February 7, 2011

Best answer: I've been made fun of for how long it takes me to prep my cake pans (nearly as long as it takes to mix the cake ingredients), but I never have release problems.

I use crisco (vegetable shortening) and flour. I use plenty of crisco, plop it onto a paper towel, and really work into all the crevices of the pan, making sure it is completely 100% coated with a smooth, not-too-thin-not-too-thick coating. Then I take plenty of flour and dump it into the pan. I turn the pan all over, lightly tapping so that flour falls into every nook and cranny. If there's a bare spot, I take more fresh flour and cover it. Make sure every single bit of the pan and exposed crisco has a coating of flour. Then, to get rid of the excess, I drop the pan straight down a few times to tap it all to the center, then turn it over and lightly tap out the free stuff. And then I repeat the drop/tap until nothing else falls away.

When the cake has finished baking, I run a butter knife along as much of the straight part as I can, and then I take the knife and sort of gently nudge the cake away from the first bend. When I invert it over my cooling rack I do a sort of jiggle thing and hope that gravity and inertia does the rest.

(As far as what to top it with, delicious ganache is just one part dark chocolate to one part heavy cream--bring the heavy cream to just under a boil, then dump it in a bowl with some finely chopped chocolate. Whisk to smooth awesome ganacheyness.)
posted by phunniemee at 7:45 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

You don't need a spray if you have a decent pastry brush and oil. I think flour works better than cocoa, but if you are baking a dark cake and you don't want flour to show, you could mix half cocoa and flour. Also, what everyone above said about letting the cake cool completely. Tap the cake pan a couple times around the rim before inverting, then invert and tap.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:11 AM on February 7, 2011

Take a narrow silicone spatula (like this) and push it down every little fluting all the way around. Then do it again, a little bit farther. Do the inside too. Comes out super easy after you've detached it from all the sides.
posted by brainmouse at 8:35 AM on February 7, 2011

"... if anyone can tell me a UK equivalent to Pam and Bakers' Joy that would be amazing."
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:48 AM on February 7

A visit to nearly any health food store should get you some small bottles of organic cooking oil and lecithin, as well as a food grade squeeze type plastic spray bottle in which to mix them in equal parts. Voila! your own inexpensive, very effective organic version of the above commercial sprays, without commercial stabilizers and propellants...
posted by paulsc at 8:42 AM on February 7, 2011

I've given up completely on using spray cooking oil on bundt pans, after many stuck bundts. I only use shortening/Crisco, and then flour like normal. And opaque glaze covers booboos!
posted by molasses at 10:20 AM on February 7, 2011

I've had success using sugar instead of flour, but that's usually with a loaf pan. I haven't tried it with a bundt yet. It does change the texture a bit, but I kind of like the crunchy caramelized sugar crust. Doesn't stop you from also adding a ganache. (caster sugar or superfine would probably work best, but not powdered)
posted by purpletangerine at 11:20 AM on February 7, 2011

Why are you putting cocoa on the pan? I didn't see that instruction in your recipe. Cocoa has very little fat in it so my guess is that it's absorbing the butter or oil that you're using, rendering it useless for its intended purpose. If you want cocoa powder on the outside of your cake, dust it over the cake after you've gotten it out of the pan.
posted by paindemie at 11:40 AM on February 7, 2011

Best answer: Like others, I usually use Baker's Joy or some other brand of oil + flour spray to coat my non-stick bundt pan. I haven't had one get stuck or break apart yet. I would think a liberal application of butter or crisco and flour would work just as well. I also usually only cool my cakes 10-15 minutes in the pan on a wire rack before flipping them out onto the rack. Maybe letting it cool so long is making the cake stiffer and more prone to break?

As far as glazes go, they aren't hard. Easier than making frosting! I have two that worked out very well for me. One is a vanilla-cinnamon glaze and the other is a chocolate glaze. The key with the chocolate glaze is to let it cool to thicken enough so that it won't just run off the sides and pool at the bottom of your cake. If you're just going to drizzle your cake, you could probably get away with making just half of the chocolate glaze recipe for your cake.
posted by geeky at 12:09 PM on February 7, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you all so much! I just made my cake and it came out perfectly. All your comments were extremely helpful, as was this comment from another Ask MeFi.
posted by Ziggy500 at 3:40 PM on February 12, 2011

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