Which One Is Best for Your Recipe?

All bakeware is not the same. Be sure you know the difference between baking pans and dishes and when to use each.

You’re about to whip up a batch tangy lemon bars and the recipe calls for preparing a 9×13 baking pan. But if you have both metal and glass pans of this size in your kitchen, which one do you use? Is one type better than the other for that recipe? The answer is yes, and we’ll explain the difference between a glass and metal baking dish (besides the material they’re made with, obviously). In all the recipes developed by the Better Homes & Gardens Test Kitchen, a baking dish means an oven-safe glass or ceramic vessel while a baking pan refers to one made of metal. Here’s what you need to know before you make your next chocolate cake.

When to Use Baking Pans (Metal)

Aluminum (nonstick or not) is a great choice for baking pans. They are lightweight and conduct heat well for even baking. Pale or shiny metal pans, such as heavy-gauge aluminum, deliver a tender delicate crust for breads and cookies. They’re also handy for easy sheet pan dinners. Dark metal pans, which conduct, retain, and distribute heat well, are for items that require more crispness or browning. Here are some instances when you should use metal baking pans.

  • For nicely browned baked goods.
  • For broiling. Do not use glass dishes or casseroles when broiling because the high temperatures may cause the glass to shatter. Therefore, when broiling, use only metal pans or bakeware suitable for broiling.
  • For roasting vegetables.

A Note from the Test Kitchen

Use these when a 2- or 3-quart baking dish is called for (specifically when baking egg dishes and acidic foods, including citrus, tomato, and other fruit-based desserts. You’ll want to use these dishes for those crisps, cobblers, and other crustless fruit desserts. In general, you probably don’t want to use glass or ceramic in temperatures higher than 425ºF. So if you’re in a pinch and need to use glass or ceramic cookware for recipes that call for baking pans, reduce the baking temperature by about 25ºF. It’s also important to note some glassware such as Pyrex can be prone to thermal shock, meaning rapid change in temperature could cause your bakeware to shatter. Make sure your dishes are completely cool before refrigerating or freezing them. Or if you’ve got a breakfast casserole chilling overnight, allow it to come closer to room temperature before popping it in the oven.

Now you know whenever you’re making our recipe for classic lasagna or peach cobbler and it says to prepare your rectangular baking dish, you’ll be reaching for a glass or ceramic dish. And when you’re utilizing those ripe bananas to make some banana bread, prepare your metal baking pan for a perfect loaf.

Prepping makes all the difference in the end.

One of the easiest and simplest steps to encourage a perfect cake is to properly prepare the pan before pouring in the batter. The obvious reason for preparing the pan is to ensure a clean release and flawless appearance, but it also contributes to the cake’s crumb, texture, and crust.

  • Make sure the pan is clean and dry. Unless otherwise specified, cakes bake best in metal pans instead of glass or ceramic.
  • Use your fingertips, a soft pastry brush, or a folded paper towel to lightly and evenly coat the inside of the pan with vegetable shortening, such as Crisco. Make sure there are no bare spots, especially in the corners of the pan. Also avoid thick lumps or streaks that will hold excess flour and possibly mar the outside of the cooked and cooled cake with white residue. A pastry brush works best in pans that have an intricate pattern.
  • Sprinkle a tablespoon or so of all-purpose or instant flour (such as Wondra) into the pan. Gently shake, tap, and tilt the pan until all of the shortening is covered in a dusting of flour. Invert the pan over the sink and gently tap out any excess flour.

Why shortening instead of butter or oil?

Butter can sometimes worsen sticking problems, especially in cakes that are high in sugar. Oil absorbs too much of the flour and can pool in the bottom of the pan.

What about parchment paper?

If your recipe calls for lining the bottom and/or sides of the pan with parchment, do so. Some recipes combine greasing and flouring the pan with parchment.

What about nonstick cooking spray?

It’s tempting to turn to a can or bottle of cooking spray, especially those that contain flour, in an effort to save time. However, these sprays tend to make the cake’s crust thicker and darker, which might not matter all that much on a pound cake, but could be a deal breaker on delicate cakes. Some bakers report that cooking sprays leave residue that builds up and stains their pans over time. If your recipe specifically calls for misting the cake pan, then do so, but otherwise spraying a pan cannot replace greasing and flouring.

What about nonstick pans?

It’s best to not count on it, especially if the pan shows wear. Moreover, a heavy, dark, nonstick pan can affect baking times and turn the cake’s crust too thick and dark. Vintage Southern cake recipes written back when everyone used lightweight and light color aluminum pans bake best in that type of pan.

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    (95240)TodayMainly sunny to start, then a few afternoon clouds. High 64F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph..
    TonightCloudy. Low 47F. WSW winds shifting to SE at 10 to 15 mph.

  • Full Forecast

Dear Barbara: I have a question for you. Why do some cake recipes say grease bottom only, and others say grease bottom and sides? I was just curious why they would be different. — Sue from Lodi

Dear Sue: How you prepare the pans would depend on what type of cake you are baking

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No matter how embarrassing it is to admit, we’ve all done it. Maybe you were a pre-teen baking your first solo cake, or maybe it just happened last week and you feel like a fool. Forgetting to grease the cake pan happens to us all at one point or another. And yes, it sucks. Perhaps you went to turn the bundt cake pan over and the entire top half ripped from the bottom because it got stuck or you went to cut a piece from the pan only to realize too much of the crumb is on the bottom to be a coincidence.

That moment of realization is the worst, and makes you question your intelligence: How could you have forgotten to do something so simple? But don’t beat yourself up. After all, mistakes happen and, at this point, it’s almost a right of passage. But let’s talk about what happens when we forget to grease and how we can possibly salvage the mess.

It won’t come out quite right

Not greasing your cake pan before baking can cause quite a few problems. When a cake bakes in a non-greased pan, it will adhere to the glass or metal instead of having a thin layer of fat or oil working as a layer of defense. So, in your attempt to remove the cake from the pan the cake will struggle to come out, which will often result in the crumb tearing or falling to pieces. Reader’s Digest suggests trying to glue the torn pieces of your cake together with frosting, but that will only work if you can remove those torn pieces from the pan without tearing them further and have the skill to put everything back together again.

Basically, forgetting to grease your pan is only a recipe for disaster and if you want a respectable-looking bake, you’ll butter everything up before pouring the batter in. But if you absolutely do not have the time to bake yourself a whole new dessert, the Rachael Ray Show has a strange trick to try. The show asks that you fill a pan bigger than your cake pan with hot water and then place your cake pan inside of it, being careful not to let the water come in direct contact with your sponge. Let this twist on the bain-marie rest for three minutes and then try to remove the cake from the pan again.

To avoid a messy fate, we tested a number of methods and found the best way to line your pan for a stick-free guarantee.

It’s all about pan prep

Your goal is to prevent your cake from sticking by creating a barrier between batter and pan (e.g., parchment, nonstick spray, or shortening and flour) prior to adding cake batter.

After testing a dozen different options for this article, I’m happy to report that all but one resulted in an intact cake: no sticking, no crumbling. That said, some required a bit more tapping and jiggling to get the cake to release. Below are the methods I settled on, in order of preference, starting with my top pick for guaranteed success. Results are based on how each performed using Chef Zeb’s Hot Milk Cake in a 6″ round pan (one recipe yields four 6″ cakes).

Parchment + pan spray is the clear winner in our cake pan prep trials.

The winner

Parchment + nonstick pan spray. Silicone-coated baking paper (parchment) is the cake baker’s best friend. Line the bottom of your pan with nonstick parchment, then coat the pan’s sides with nonstick pan spray. Some people espouse coating the bottom of the pan with spray before adding the parchment, then spraying the parchment as well; if you lean toward a “belt and suspenders” approach, feel free to do this.

Baked on parchment, your cake will drop right out of the upended pan onto its cooling rack, and the parchment is easily peeled off the warm cake’s bottom. Parchment rounds are handy for round pans; if you’re baking in a square or rectangular pan, choose half-sheet parchment cut to size.

We especially recommend the parchment-pan spray combination for cakes with sticky add-ins, like meltable chips or bits of chocolate or caramel, fresh or dried fruit or anything else (mini marshmallows?) that can become sticky when warm.

Here are some of the many cakes I baked to draw the conclusions in this article. What a delicious exercise!

The runners-up

Cake goop stays soft even when stored in the fridge, making it quick and easy to use.

Cake goop. If you choose not to use parchment, homemade “cake goop,” known to seasoned cake bakers everywhere, is a super alternative. Made by mixing equal parts (by volume) vegetable shortening, flour, and vegetable oil, goop is simply painted onto your pans with a pastry brush (or rubbed on with a paper towel). Make up a batch* and store it in the fridge; it’ll stay spreadable and ready to use even when chilled.

*1/2 cup (92g) vegetable shortening, 1/2 cup (60g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1/2 cup (99g) vegetable oil. Mix until smooth.

Here’s a tip: My fellow blogger, Rossi, says you can substitute cocoa powder for flour to make chocolate goop — perfect for chocolate cakes, where flour would clash visually with the cake’s rich, deep-dark color.

Nonstick pan spray, alone or dusted with flour; granulated sugar; cocoa powder, or nut flour (e.g., almond). Pan spray’s big advantage over older methods (shortening, butter) is its easy application and thorough coverage.

For an enticing, lightly crunchy crust, spray your cake pan (bottom and sides) with nonstick spray, then sprinkle it heavily with granulated sugar.

Dusting with flour is common, but you can branch out by matching the “dust” with your recipe, e.g., cocoa with chocolate cake, or almond flour for a touch of nutty flavor in yellow cake. Personally, I love to dust my spray-coated pan with granulated sugar; it adds a tiny bit of crunch and gleam to what otherwise might be a rather plain cake crust.

Vegetable shortening, alone or dusted with the options above. If you’re perfectly satisfied with this traditional method of preparing a cake pan, then stick with it (though for interest’s sake you may want to try dusting with something other than flour). Shortening’s downside: you may sometimes get a hint of oily flavor, especially if your shortening isn’t super-fresh.

Butter, alone or dusted with the options above. Butter works less well than pan spray or shortening (the milk solids in the butter add a bit of stickiness), but with some coaxing — gentle loosening, firm tapping — cakes come out with perhaps just a bit of residue left in the bottom of the pan.

Not recommended

Pan spray dusted with confectioners’ sugar. How about adding sweetness to your pan coating without the crunch of granulated sugar? It seemed like a good idea at the time, but apparently the cornstarch in the sugar mixed with the cake batter’s liquid and turned into glue! My experimental cake stuck badly and broke into pieces.

Give your nonstick pans the help they need to yield great results. Had I lined this pan with parchment and/or treated it with pan spray, the cake would have popped right out.

Nonstick pan without any prep. “My pan’s nonstick, so why do I need to coat it with anything?” Cake batter is inherently sticky, and as it bakes it bonds to your pan’s surface. Even a nonstick pan can only go so far to resist this. Don’t be stubborn: Prep even your nonstick cake pan.

A little upkeep goes a long way

If you use a nonstick cake pan — a 9” round, 8” square, Bundt, springform, whatever — and you prep it with pan spray, wash the pan in warm soapy water just as soon as you’ve removed the cake, while the pan is still warm. Pan spray bonds to nonstick pans as they cool, forming a tacky residue that builds up over time and, counterintuitively, negates the pan’s nonstick qualities. It’s a real pain to scrub off that stickiness without damaging the pan’s surface — so clean up as you go!

Bundt cakes: They’re the bane of stick-fearful cake bakers everywhere! For help, see How to prevent Bundt cakes from sticking.

Cover photo (Classic Birthday Cake) by John Sherman.

You can be the best baker in all the world; the fact of the matter is that whatever you bake and whatever exciting new recipe you’re using – in the end it all comes down to the preparation.

This is especially true when it comes to cake.

What’s the point of planning a towering currant-rich, cream-laden, cocoa powder extravaganza if as soon as you try and remove it from the cake pan after cooking, it won’t come out?

You may be forced to stick in a knife around the edges of your cake pan and watch in horror as the whole thing crumbles out in ruined, but otherwise perfectly-fine tasting, bits.

Don’t be full of regret. Proper preparation makes the baker, and we won’t let you ruin your perfect cake.

This can’t be sorted with just a nonstick pan.

Learning to grease baking pans is one of the most fundamental parts of cake-baking, but if you’re new to this art and you want to make sure that you know how to grease and flour a pan properly, then look no further than the instructions below:

What You Need

  • Cake pan/baking pan/bundt pan (choose the correct size according to your recipe)
  • Salted or unsalted butter, margarine or cooking spray/nonstick baking or cooking spray/vegetable oil
  • All-purpose flour/Instant Flour
  • Greaseproof paper/parchment paper
  • Paper towel

How To Grease And Flour A Pan

If you haven’t already, clear and clear a large surface for preparing your cake mixture.

Once it has been prepared, clean a cake pan and make sure it is completely dry before proceeding.

Have your chosen greaser readily available for the next stage.

Grease Pans For Baking

If you are using butter, similar spread or vegetable oil, apply a liberal amount to a paper towel (or a spare piece of the greaseproof/parchment paper) and smear it across the bottom and sides of the cake pan, until every millimeter of the inside of the cake pan is thoroughly coated with a thin layer of grease.

If you are using a nonstick cooking spray, the same principle applies.

A full coating will minimize the chances of an unfortunate sticking situation.

Note On Greasing Pans, Vegetable Oil And Nonstick Cooking Spray

If you are using a nonstick spray, non-specific cooking sprays or more specific nonstick baking spray, make sure it is a brand where you know the flavor won’t impact your recipe.

There are many greasers and just as many methods of greasing.

A professional baker or pastry chef may even use a specialized melted butter, expensive cooking spray, vegetable oil or vegetable shortening for that perfect result, and then use a pastry brush to apply it.

For this reason, we don’t recommend using olive oil.

Adding The Flour

After you are sure that the pan has been fully greased, dump a very small amount of flour (about a teaspoon) into the bottom of the cake pan.

Not too much! We don’t want to affect the delicate flavor of your cake recipe.

Flouring The Bottom Of The Cake Pan

Holding the cake pan over the counter, gently tilt and shake your cake pan from side-to side until there is a thin layer of flour across the bottom.

Do so until all of the flour has been evenly distributed.

Don’t worry if there appears to be excess flour; this is required for the next step.

Flouring The Sides Of The Cake Pan

Carefully tilt the pan upon its side, and much as you would a tambourine, lightly pat the cake pan so that the excess flour runs from the bottom of the pan to the sides.

Be careful not to let the flour spill out and make a mess! You may want to do this step over the sink just in case.

Repeat with each side of the cake pan, turning it until all sides have been covered. Rinse any dropped wet flour away immediately so that it doesn’t have time to set.

Using Multiple Cake Pans

Alternatively, if you are going to be using two separate pans (if you are making a layer cake) and you have already greased the other pan as per the steps above, then you can simply do this step over the other pan and allow the excess flour to fall into that.

You may need to add a little more flour to this second baking pan afterwards to achieve the same thin layer of coating.

Lining The Pan With Parchment Paper

Some recipes do not call for you to line your cake pans with parchment paper and you may feel that greasing your baking pans is enough, but in our experience it is better to be safe than sorry- especially if you are trying out a new or complicated cake recipe.

For pan lining, you simply place a piece of greaseproof paper or parchment paper over the bottom.

What complicates this is if your cooking pan is a difficult shape- such as a traditional circular cake pan, loaf pan or a bundt pan.

Stretch your roll of parchment paper or greaseproof paper under the greased pan, and cut around it cleanly with a pair of scissors so that it is the perfect size to insert into whatever kind of baking pan you are using.

You now need to evenly coat this parchment paper lining with grease and flour too, as per the steps above.

Adding The Batter

You are now free to add your batter.

If the recipe calls for multiple pans as per a layer cake, then make sure that you distribute the batter evenly between your cake pans.

If any batter touches the rim, wipe it clear with a paper towel.

Once the cake has finished baking, allow time for it to cool before you attempt to remove them from the pan.

This time will depend on the nature of your recipe or the nature of your baked goods.

If all has gone correctly, by the time that you remove your cake from the pan, it should come away without too much hassle thanks to your efforts to grease and flour beforehand.

Remove the lining from your baked goods before decorating/icing, and serving.


Do you want to make a stunning cake with a unique shape that will turn heads? Then a bundt pan is the perfect tool you need!

But before you start mixing batter, there’s one crucial step: greasing and flouring the pan. Doing so ensures a seamless release and no sticking.

I’ll show you my tried-and-tested method of greasing and flouring the bundt pan so that your baking is always a success.

Bundt cake in the Czech Republic is known as “bábovka” and is one of the most popular desserts that Czechs bake on weekends. Get the recipe for Czech bábovka bundt cake.

➜ What is a bundt pan?

A bundt cake pan is a type of cake pan with a distinctive ring-shaped design. The shape of the pan allows for cakes to be baked with an intricate pattern on the outside, and it also helps to create a more even baking surface.

➜ What you need

  • A bundt cake pan; clean it first using warm soapy water and make sure to dry the pan thoroughly with a dish towel or paper towels. Pay special attention to any stuck-on residue that may have remained in the pan from the last baking – you need to remove these.
  • Solid fat; such as vegetable shortening or Crisco if you are based in the US. As a Czech, I often use lard for greasing. Avoid using cooking spray or cooking oil when dusting the cake pan with flour or breadcrumbs, as these won’t adhere firmly to the sides and may run down. In addition, I avoid using butter to grease bundt pans because the milk solids can cause the cake to stick.
  • Flour, or better breadcrumbs; I have found it works best to dust the cake pan with fine breadcrumbs. I make my own breadcrumbs by grinding fully dried, plain French baguettes, Czech veka bread, rohliky rolls, or housky braided rolls. I don’t recommend using coarse flour as a semolina, as it creates a hard crust after baking and unnecessarily spoils the impression of an otherwise delicious cake.

➜ Greasing and flouring a bundt cake pan the right way

STEP 1: Grease all the nooks and crannies inside the cake pan with care. Keep working your way around the pan, preferably with your fingers, until the whole surface is covered.

MY TIP: While I used to grease a pan with a silicone pastry brush, I now find that using my fingers to do so is more efficient.

STEP 2: Sprinkle fine breadcrumbs or plain flour into the greased cake pan. Grasp the mold with both hands and, in a circular motion, fill its inner surface with breadcrumbs. If still necessary, gently shake the pan so that you create a thin, even coating of breadcrumbs on all the spots inside. In particular, the central tube must be completely coated.

STEP 3: To remove excess breadcrumbs, lightly tap the edge of the pan on the counter.

STEP 4: And now, you’re finished! Your bundt cake pan is ready to be filled with cake batter.

➜ Should I grease a bundt pan with non-stick coating?

Even if a bundt cake pan has a nonstick coating, it is best to grease and flour it to make sure the cake comes out easily. Nonstick cake pans lose adhesion with use and over time, so it is best to prepare the pan before baking as a preventative measure. By greasing and flouring, you can avoid the disappointment of a cake that doesn’t turn out and the waste of ingredients.

➜ How to get a cake out of a bundt pan

Greasing and flouring the bundt pan thoroughly is essential for getting the cake out of the pan after baking, but there is still one more trick to make it easier.

  • If not, bring a kitchen towel. Soak it in cold water and wring it out. Next, spread and press the towel evenly across the pan.
  • If the cake isn’t releasing and the towel is warm, you can try again after a while.

⇢ Learn how to tell when my bundt cake is done

➜ What to do with a stuck bundt cake

If even this trick fails and you end up with a stuck bundt cake, don’t give up. Although the cake may not be visually perfect, its taste is still delicious. Slice it into aesthetically pleasing pieces and arrange them on a plate. They’ll be gone in a flash!

Another option is to use the cake crumbs as a base for another recipe. If the cake breaks while turning out of the mold, I just put the pieces in a bowl and top them with vanilla cream. Incredible goodness!

In conclusion, taking the time to grease and flour a bundt pan is a crucial step in the baking process that pays off. Not only will it help your finished cake look better, but it will also make sure that your baked cake comes out of the pan without sticking or crumbling.

Now go grab your ingredients and a nice-shaped bundt pan, and start creating something delicious! A well-greased and floured pan is sure to make all of your baking endeavors much easier.

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