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.
  • 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 Baker's Hotline, and spends her non-baking time playing board games and cuddling her hedgehog.

comments

  1. Elaine

    Cut the cake in slices, spread with jam, cube the slices and gently toss with vanilla pudding. You now have trifle. Never admit this wasn’t what you intended to do all along.

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      No worries, meedee — I’ve made soooo many Bundt cakes, and only once has one stuck. Use a good non-stick pan; grease with vegetable oil spray; follow the directions for turning it out of the pan, and you should be just fine. Good luck — PJH

  2. Irene in T.O.

    Butter will give a good release to breads, sweet breads, and butter cakes. I use unsalted. Use room temperature butter that is still firm (not squishy) and apply generously with a pastry brush. It will not slide down into the crevices.

    I learned another trick for butter cakes. Once the cake is cool enough to touch, use your fingers to push the middle of each petal towards the middle. This instead of using a knife. Then take the pan in two oven mitts and give a few sharp shakes sideways before placing a rack on top to turn out.

    Reply
  3. margery hood

    I have had good luck with a greased non-stick pan, with about one tablespoon of sugar sprinkled in the pan and tilted so that all the surfaces are coated with sugar. Bake and let cool for about 15 minutes and then tip cake out onto cooling rack. Hope this helps.

    marge h.

    Reply
  4. Monica

    I have been having great Bundt success by brushing the pan with “goop”- 1 Tbsp. Crisco, melted, 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, 1 Tbsp.flour, mixed well. Works like a charm.

    Reply
    1. Addie Raines

      It is called “cake release”. Works every time for me. I love it. Saves that step of trying to get every spot covered with flour. A good well built pastry brush and you can see where you have covered and where you missed. I make up a batch of about two cups and it sits in my cupboard.

      No it doesn’t go bad. No more so than your shortening or flour does. Just make sure you use a vegetable oil.

    2. Barbara

      I was going to comment about using “goop,” but you beat me to it. I make up a batch of this that I keep in the refrigerator. My bundt cakes almost fall out of the pan. Much easier than greasing and flouring.

  5. Felice

    NordicWare recommends never using a pan spray that contains lecithin as that is what contributes to the sticky buildup that can be impossible to clean off. They suggest using shortening to grease the pan and while that can be time consuming with a pan with an intricate design, I’ve never had that method fail.

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      You’re absolutely right Felice, Nordic Ware doesn’t recommend cooking sprays which typically leave that very unpleasant residue. We’ve found that sprays specifically geared towards baking work much better, as they’re really made for high temperatures involving lots of sugar and butter. Nordic Ware also recommended we try the Dawn Power Dissolver to get off any stubborn build up-they’re just plain awesome over there!

  6. Irene Dee

    Good timing! I am about to place my beautiful crown bundt pan under my tire and run over it, and it’s a nearly $40 pan. I have baked lots of bundts in my life and never have I had such a problem with sticking. Not one cake has cleanly released. Not even halfway cleanly! I don’t mean small sticking. I am talking epic fails! I have tried everything KA has recommended and nothing has worked. I am using recipes I have successfully used for years but in different pans than this crown pan. I tried KA recipes. It’s nice to see some different tips and I will try them. I am so frustrated! It’s a beautiful pan and I hate to give it up.

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      Oh Irene, you definitely have my sympathy! I used the Crown Bundt in this blog post with our Triple Chocolate Cake Mix and very much fell in love with the pretty design it makes. I hope that after a good hot soaking, the pan will be a bit more cooperative with use of some of these tips!

    2. Barbara Jackson

      Good luck! If you can’t get the suggestions to work, all is not lost. Try using it for panna cotta or similar dessert or a decorative ice mold.

    3. 'Gail

      I too have had the same problem. Using my great great grandmother’s recipe that I’ve made for decades with no problem at all, perfect every time till this year. I read somewhere that the butter makes a huge difference. I don’t know what is different about the butter I’ve always used (land o lakes) but I’m going to switch to a higher grade and see if that makes a difference. So disappointing… .

    4. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      Gail, if you’re able to find it in your area, we highly recommend Cabot butter. It has a wonderful flavor and turns out beautiful baked goods. Plus it’s Vermont made!

  7. Myrna Panno

    I find that not using cooking spray to start out with works so much better. No sticky residue in your pan that way. I have several recipes that state not to use sprays, but to grease pan well with vegetable shortening and lightly flour. Rarely do I have one stick in pan.

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      Happy to hear that stuck bundts haven’t been much of an issue in your kitchen! I too have a couple of pans at home that have overtime built up their own non-stick seemingly magical powers that I never have to grease. Those are the pans you pass down for generations!

  8. Pat

    I spray the pan generously with vegetable oil spray then wipe it down with a paper towel. That way I have a nice even layer all over, no puddles, no missing spots. Never had one stick.

    Reply
  9. Mary

    I grease my intricate pans using a brush and Crisco then use sugar rather than flour to coat. None have ever stuck including castles and others with many nooks and crannies if I remove them from the pan 5-10 minutes after taking them from the oven.

    Reply
    1. Carolyn

      The tip on sugar is great! If the cake is chocolate I mix cocoa powder with the sugar so it adds to the flavor and color.

  10. Arlene

    I have a bunds cake that you add hot butter rum sauce too. After it all absorbes and the cak is some what cool it still sticks. Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      That sounds positively scrumptious, Arlene! I’d recommend either removing the cake from the pan before pouring the hot butter rum sauce over the top. Otherwise I’d try the “oven” technique by popping it back in the warm oven for a few minutes to loosen things up, sauce and all. Happy baking!

  11. Loretta Locicero

    I grease a cold pan with melted-and-cooled shortening. It solidifies in the nooks and crannies, just before adding the batter.

    Then when I take the done cake from the oven, I give it a shake up and down by quarter turns. So far, I’ve had the most success doing that. Once air gets between the cake and the pan, it will come out easily when cooled.

    I always soak the dirty pan in soapy water for an hour before cleaning and use a soft Oxo bottle brush to scour the tight crevices with Dawn platinum. No dishwasher.

    Now if only that would work half as well with muffin pans…

    Reply
  12. E. Gayle Schild

    I love Wilton’s bake spray. It releases bake goods, no build up! Made to stop sticky situations. Can buy at Walmart.

    Reply
  13. Dorothy Voreis

    I have never had a bundt cake stick. In fact, had quit making them. But recently saw some great recipes I wanted to try so had to run to the garage and dig my bundt pan out of the “going to Goodwill box”. Even ordered two new ones.
    However, have had a cake stick in the past, ended up using my HAIRDRYER to re-heat the pan without additional baking and it works like a charm.

    Reply
  14. Lana

    Shake it! Side to side to start with. As it loosens, a little jump up and down and you know you have an unstuck cake.

    However, one should never use non-stick spray. After many years of baking – and having lived through the “trans fats are good for your heart” era and throwing out many nonstick pans due to gunk unremovable – butter is best. Plenty of it in the cool pan not long before pouring in the batter so it’s sticking well in all the crevices.

    Bundt cakes are wonderful!

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      Bundt lovers unite! I love your shaking tip and will definitely have to try that out. Non-stick sprays have certainly transformed over the years to a point I now feel comfortable using them in my kitchen, but to each their own of course. Butter is tried and true! (Not to mention delicious)

  15. Patricia Anderson

    I NEVER have any problem when I spray any variation of bundt pan with Bakers Joy immediately before adding batter. My friends think I have majic but it’s all about this fat/flour product!

    Reply
  16. HMB

    I have a long, thin very flexible silicone spatula that easily slips between the cake and the pan. It follows the curves easily because it is so thin and flexible, and because it’s silicone it won’t scratch. It’s not much useful for anything else because of its delicacy, but it is a godsend for bundt pans!

    Reply
    1. Sophie

      I have a similar technique – I use a long, thin rubber spatula and run it against the edges including the tube as soon as the cake comes out of the oven. The spatula doesn’t damage the cake, even if it digs in a little, and it doesn’t scratch the pan. I also recently found a product called Ever-Bake at a commercial cook’s store that doesn’t have lecithin and have used it with great success. However, my bundt pans are the more traditional curvy ones, not the ultra-ultra-fancy ones. When the cake has cooled 10 minutes I then invert it onto a cooling rack.

  17. Margaret Kwitek

    I only use Sweetex or other high-ratio shortening to grease the pans. Works great and never leaves residue the way all the other brands do.

    Reply
  18. Donna Willard

    I always use melted Crisco and a pastry brush to grease my bundt pans. You can get into every nook and cranny with the shortening. If you flour the pan lightly afterwards. You can see if you missed any places and then just just brush on a little melted shortening to correct it. I have never had a bundt cake in any shape bundt pan stick.

    Reply
  19. emberenbroick

    I have a cast iron bundt that is over 50 years old. I too use Bakers Joy and then use sugar as a buffer. Works like a charm. Don’t know which daughter Iin law will inherit this pan Love it!. Enjoy all your recipes. Too much to eat.
    Lynne

    Reply
  20. Anna Leung

    What is the best way to grease the bundt pan for a chiffon cake please? I tried with butter and flour before, it didn’t release perfectly, really upset .

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      Hi Anna. Don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone! Chiffon cakes can be tricky because like angel food cake, it’s meant to be baked in an ungreased pan. This is because it’s so delicate that it needs to be able to grip the sides of the pan in order to rise up, otherwise it winds up rather dense and deflated. I’d recommend giving your pan and good deep cleaning, either with the Dawn Power Dissolver that we use in our test kitchen, or any of your favorite grime-fightning cleaners. Allow some soaking time in very hot water as well just to loosen up anything you can’t see. After it’s been cleaned and dried, you may have better success. Fingers crossed for an intact chiffon!

    2. Anna Leung

      Thank you Annabelle, I will have a good deep cleaning of my pan later. I would like to know for the NW pans, after baking I cleaned and dried the pan , I was told to grease the pan with butter, is this a proper way?
      So for chiffon cake, should I grease it with butter and flour? shortening and flour? butter and sugar or shortening and sugar?
      I lived in Macau, I cannot find the Dawn Power Dissolver here, can I soak the pan in very hot water with baking soda?
      Thank you .

    3. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      A good homemade cleaner is just some baking soda with enough water added to make a paste. Spread the paste in the pan and scrub with a nylon scrubber. The baking soda is abrasive but gentle enough to clean the non-stick surface without damaging it. Generally, chiffon cakes require a non-greased pan. If after you’ve given the pan a good cleaning, and you bake them without greasing, and they still stick? Then I’d try brushing melted shortening in the pan and sprinkling with sugar just before pouring in your batter. I hope this helps!

  21. Pam

    My favorite decorative aluminum bundt style pan given to me by a dear friend started sticking. I cleaned it well with a steel wool scouring pad and I no longer have trouble with sticking. There was some sort of “invisible” residue in the pan and that got rid of it. I think the residue came from the butter flavor shortening, so now I use butter or plain shortening, never spray. I like to sprinkle with sugar on some cakes but mostly I use butter and flour coating. Another trick for fixing the appearance of a stuck cake (so long as it’s not big hunks stuck and just a little stuck) is to dig out the stuck bits, chop finely, toast a little and stick them to the top of the cake with your favorite glaze. Looks pretty, adds some crunch and no one will ever know it wasn’t supposed to be that way!

    Reply
  22. Buffy

    I had a very ornate, heavy bundt pan which I used several times with good success. Then came the day a few weeks ago when I baked a ‘birthday surprise’ for a favored librarian and NOTHING I tried worked to release the cake.
    Now I offer solution # 5.
    Deliver the cake still in the pan with a few attractive forks (NOT PLASTC!!) and include the pan as part of the gift. Worked for me.

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      Just this morning my mom was reading this blog post saying “Why can’t we all just eat cake right out of the pan?” I think you both might be thinking the most clearly in a stuck bundt dilemma, Buffy!

  23. Regina

    My best way to release a cake from a bundt pan is even easier than the first solution. After resting the cake in the pan for approximately 5 minutes wrap a wet towel around the pan and it will simply come right out when you tip it over. No need to risk getting the cake wet with a steam bath. This is the tried and true way I have always used , it never fails me.

    Reply

Post a comment

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