Question: How do I keep my cake from sticking to the pan?
Answer: There’s nothing more disheartening than making the perfect cake and not having it come out of the pan in one piece! I’ve tried many different methods; cooking spray, greasing with Crisco, greasing and flouring, you name it. Here’s my fail proof method: Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your pan. I trace around the bottom of my pan then cut the parchment paper with scissors. Brush the bottom and sides of your pan with Wilton Cake Release using a pastry brush. I buy this product in the cake decorating section of my local hobby store. Line the bottom of your pan with the pre-cut parchment paper. Brush the parchment paper with Wilton Cake Release, paying special attention to the corners, and fill with cake batter. Once my cakes come out of the oven I let them cool for 10 – 15 minutes then run a knife around the edge of the cake. Jiggle the pan to ensure the cake isn’t sticking before turning out on the counter.
Question: My cakes come out with a huge dome on top. I level them by slicing off the top before frosting, but I hate wasting so much of the cake. How can I avoid this?
Answer: To be honest, I don’t really know why this happens during baking. I’m sure there’s some scientific explanation that I’m unaware of. One thing I’ve found which factors in – temperature – the temperature of your ingredients and the temperature of your oven. I always bring my wet ingredients up to room temperature before mixing my batter. This means leaving your eggs, milk, butter, etc. out on the counter for as long as necessary. Also, I suggest investing in an oven thermometer. Just because you set your oven at 350 degrees doesn’t mean it’s accurate. Once I pour the batter into my pans and prior to baking I'll lift the pan up about 3 inches and drop it on the counter a few times. This pops some of the air bubbles in the batter and helps to produce more of an even cake.
Something that I do to cut down on the amount of cake sliced off during leveling is weighing my cakes down after baking. Once the cake comes out of the oven I put a plate slightly smaller than the cake pan on top of the cake. Weigh it down with anything heavy. I usually use a large can of stewed tomatoes or anything similar in my pantry. This will not only level your cake but increase the density, which helps create a cake sturdy enough to hold up fondant and decoration. I leave the plate and the weight on the entire time my cake is cooling. Hope this helps!