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 Digital Engagement Team, and spends her non-baking time playing board games and cuddling her hedgehog.

comments

  1. Frederick Fuller

    Get two spoons, one for you and one for your companion. Eat the cake out of the pan, top if you like. Taste is what counts for me.

    Reply
  2. Ellen Greaves

    I have had good luck jiggling/shaking/knocking the cooled cake sideways on the counter . Eg for a loaf pan I hold the top crust toward me, knock the long side on the counter then rotate and knock the short end on the counter. This loosens one side at a time. I envision the force sheering the stuck areas clear.

    Reply
  3. Juliana Gregory

    I have made the lemon bliss cake countless times in my williams sonoma bundt pan and it has always slid out like a charm… (I use the williams sonoma loaf pan for flan and it comes out amazing) except for the last time I made it and it stuck SO badly. I was heartbroken… I wish I had read this blog and tried some of these tricks! Next time… if I work up the nerve to take another stab at it, that is.

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      You’ve got this, Juliana! And as we always say, worse comes to worst: delicious trifle. Annabelle@KAF

  4. Rachel

    Hi. From the UK here so we have slightly different ingredients and things to grease our tins with, but I’ve had trouble with my bundts sticking for ages. It’s only ever the crown though. The sides always come away as easy as pie, but the top of the cake always sticks no matter what I use. It never used to do this but I don’t think I’ve had a bundt come out whole in nearly 2 years. And heaven forbid I use fruit or crystallised ginger! Then nothing comes out at all! I’m at my wits end here, especially as these pans were not cheap. Any ideas why it’s just the top and never the sides that stick?

    Reply
    1. Annabelle Nicholson, post author

      I feel your frustration, Rachel! It’s a little tricky to tell without seeing the pan, but my guess is that over time, whatever you used to grease the pan dripped down the sides into the bottom everytime you baked. Over time, the bottom developed a bit of a skin that’s really, really, difficult to get off, and can be hard to see. Everytime you bake, that bottom skin heats up and sort of glues the cake to itself. The best thing to do is give that pan a good soak. We find that Dawn Power Dissolver does the absolute best job. You spray it all over, let it sit, then wash it, repeating the process if necessary. If you’re not able to get that product, the next best thing, in my opinion, is baking soda and vinegar. Sprinkle the pan with baking soda and spray vinegar over the surface with a spray bottle. Scrub, rinse, and repeat as needed. I hope this helps and that your Crown Bundt will be cooperating again for you soon! Annabelle@KAF

  5. Anna_perspectives in MN

    Thank you ladies for the tips in this blog, I made my first chocolate swirl cake today with my new diamond bundt cake pan and used the “goop” that was suggested by many.
    My variation in the goup reciep was due to ingredients on hand: equal amounts of coconut oil, lard and cocounut flour. The cake unmolded beautifully after 10-minutes of cooling on a rack and I dusted it with confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder blended.
    Can’t wait to have the first piece with my hubby tonight!

    Reply

Post a comment

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