Stuck Bundt: When a Bundt cake doesn't budge

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.

Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflour

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!

Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflour

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.

Intricate designs

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.

Size matters

If a recipe calls for a 10-cup Bundt pan, like our Party Bundt Pan, and you only have a 15-cup Bundt pan, like our Original Classic Bundt Pan, the risk of a delicate cake sticking increases.

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.

Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflour

Sticky residue

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?

Can this Bundt pan make like a Disney® character and just let it go? Click To Tweet

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.

Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflourMake 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.

Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflourAdd hot water from your faucet until you have a good 3″ worth.

Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflourCover 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.  Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflourLay a dry towel over the sink to trap steam and wait 15 minutes.

Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflourAs 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.

Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflourOnce preheated, bake the Bundt for 3 to 5 minutes; 3 minutes if it’s a drier recipe (like chiffon cake), 5 minutes if it’s on the moist side (like pound cake).

Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflourTake 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.
Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflour

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.

Stuck Bundt via @kingarthurflourTurn the pan over onto a cooling rack and your cake should drop out with a tap or two.

Notes:

  • 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.

Save

Annabelle Nicholson
About

Annabelle grew up in New Hampshire and Vermont and attended New England Culinary Institute to study baking and pastry arts. She works on the Digital Engagement Team, and spends her non-baking time playing board games and cuddling her hedgehog.

comments

  1. Kathryn Paul

    I was baking a poppy seed cake for a birthday. The botton half came out leaving the top still in the pan. I paniced but started reading about solutions. I saw the one about the water in the sink and the roll of towel etc. but I knew for myself in my heightened state of anxiety it was a recipe for further disaster. Then I reslized I had just run the dishwasher and it was steamy hot inside. I took out the dishes on the top rack and put the cake in covered with a dish towel. Worked like a charm and with some icing masonry the cake was whole again.

    Reply
  2. Rob

    I was pleased to find this advice – naturally I was searching for it because my first-in-years golden Fruitcake was stuck, and tightly, in my Bundt Pan. Yes, I’d used a non-stick Pan greased it, and floured it. For what it’s worth, using a spatula around the sides and then banging the pan with a soft wooden block only dented the pant.

    The kitchen torch method worked for me, but the outer skin of the cake still stuck in the pan, leaving a pebbled surface so be aware of that. I think the steam method, if any, has best chance of coming out clean, but I was hesitant to put my cake in a sink full of hot water, foil cover or no.

    Fortunately, after wrapping it in cheesecloth and soaking it in Cointreau for a month I doubt if anyone will really notice the rough texture on the cake left by my torch trick.

    Best of luck to all who come here for the same reason!

    Reply
  3. LINDA

    I am just fit to be tied! I bought the Nordic Anniversary pan just to make your 2017 recipe of the year (and because I liked the look of the pan) which is the Lemon Bliss Bundt cake. I followed the instructions exactly and have made it 3 times and each time the cake has stuck to the pan!!@# The instruction the recipe say to take it out of the oven and immediately turn it over on a rack to cool. Now on your blog you say to let it sit upright for 10 minutes first. I wish you would proof your recipes to follow your own instructions!! This has happened several times with your recipes and I am ready to give up even though I just received your Sift magazine and am thinking I’ll save myself and just throw it out!!!

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      I’d love to help, Linda, preferably before there are any more rage-inducing Bundt sessions! First, thank you for pointing out that that recipe calls for turning it out right away. I’ve added a note to that section of the blog saying that in cases where the recipe recommends instant removal to follow those directions.
      Would you mind walking me through how you prepare your pan? I know there are a LOT of methods out there using shortening, butter, flour, etc. but I just use pan spray alone; either Everbake or Vegalene, whatever one I have on hand.
      The anniversary pan is also bigger than the one we used for the Lemon Bliss Cake (which was the party one) so a recipe designed for that size pan, like our Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Cake may be more cooperative. We’ll figure it out. Annabelle@KAF

  4. Judith Caplano

    My last Bundt cake did stick. First time. Perhaps the Teflon is wearing off?
    Question: How much batter does a package cake mix make? Should the cake mix
    be enough to come to the brim of the pan, or below it?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sorry to hear about your stuck Bundt, Judith. You might want to check out the article on our blog called, “How to prevent Bundt cakes from sticking,” to avoid sticky situations like this in the future. (We’ve found that brushing the pan with melted vegetable shortening is an effective way to get a non-stick coating into all the nooks and crannies of a Bundt pan.) As for your question about the yield of packaged cake mix, the answer will depend on what brand and kind of cake mix you’re making. You can take a look at the front of the box, usually close to the bottom to see how many ounces of mix are included. We recommend filling your Bundt pan so that there’s at least 1″ of space between the batter and the top of the edge. Check out this article about Bundt pan size to see a visual example of this. Happy Bundt baking! Kye@KAF

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *