Alice's One Rule for Perfect Cake Pan Prep

April  7, 2014

Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: Don't fret -- Alice gives us the inside track on foolproof pan prep for your next baking adventure. 

Shop the Story

Have you noticed that pan preparation differs among cakes and recipes? A recipe may call for greasing, or greasing and flouring, or simply leaving the pan naked. It depends on the type of cake and the preferences of the chef! But that is another topic for another day. I say prepare the sides of the pan exactly as directed in the recipe -- but line the bottoms with parchment!

The parchment offers absolute peace of mind: it ensures that your cake will always come out of the pan without sticking. There is no need to grease under the paper unless your parchment is too crumpled to lie flat, and never a need to grease (or grease and flour) the parchment itself -- regardless of what you may have seen on television, or learned in culinary school! When the cake comes out of the pan, you simply peel the paper off the bottom. It’s actually quite satisfying ...

PS: I keep parchment circles on hand. I stack a few sheets of parchment, trace around 8- and 9- inch cake pans on the top sheet and cut the circles out with scissors or a utility knife (with a cutting board underneath). I store the circles in a cake pan to keep them flat. For more about parchment see The Big Secret About Parchment Paper.  

More: Learn how to frost a cake like a pro -- then make the perfect dessert, from start to finish.  

Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet. 


Photos by James Ransom

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • German
  • Missy Penick
    Missy Penick
  • Shrinkrap
  • amysarah
  • E. Nassar
    E. Nassar
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).


German April 30, 2014
This woman is a wonderful finding in my culinary world. Thank you for bringing love and understanding to the kitchen.
Missy P. April 30, 2014
I make my own release with equal parts flour (cocoa powder for chocolate)solid shortening and oil. My cakes never ever stick~
laurelei235 May 30, 2014
I use that recipe too. It's genius, works like a charm and ridiculously cheap. Loaf breads, quick breads, cakes, sheet cakes. Hasn't failed me yet. And it's shelf stable for months.
Shrinkrap April 10, 2014
"There is no need to grease under the paper....regardless of what you may have seen on television, or learned in culinary school! When the cake comes out of the pan, you simply peel the paper off the bottom. It’s actually quite satisfying ...


Love the stored circles.
mdelgatty April 1, 2020
I sometimes sprinkle a few drops of water in the pan to make the parchment paper stay put. I bought some circles a while ago - which turned out to be 8 1/2 inches in diameter and fit neither standard 8" nor 9" pans...
To cut pp to fit pans, I put it on top of the pan turned upside down and scrape around the edge with a handy knife I don't care about dulling. Easy to finish trimming with scissors if necessary.
amysarah April 7, 2014
Quick trick for easily cutting parchment to fit a round pan: after tracing the pan's bottom, fold it in half before cutting - the way you cut paper into circles or hearts as a child.
E. N. April 7, 2014
Or just use PAM for baking (or Baker's Joy):). I do that for pretty much every cake I bake. Never, ever sticks and is especially a boon for baking a Bundt cake.