I love making bundt cakes, because they rock a beautiful look straight out of the pan—even without any finishing touches. Recently, I've received a lot of questions about how to achieve your very best bundt. While every recipe is a little bit different, there are some tips that apply to nearly every bundt cake.
Use a well-made bundt pan.
Starting with a good bundt pan is an easy first step. I like the heavy-duty metal ones. While they don’t need to have nonstick coatings, that can really help, especially if the shape is more detailed. I'm a Nordicware fan; I find their pans consistently bake evenly. Many of their pans also have excellent inner coatings, which helps ensure cakes release cleanly. Remember to avoid scrubbing the interior finish too much, which can mar the protective coating and cause subsequent cakes to release less cleanly. I usually let my bundt pans soak with warm, soapy water for awhile, then clean it out with a soft sponge.
Use a cake batter with a tight crumb structure.
So: You can bake nearly any cake recipe inside a bundt pan. But to get the best, most detailed results, it’s ideal to use a certain type of cake batter. Batters that produce a finished cake with a firmer, tighter crumb structure, like pound cake, are perfect for baking inside a bundt pan. Cakes that use a foaming method (such as sponge cake), will produce light, airy batters full of air pockets—these air pockets can show all over the exterior of your bundt after baking. Too many air pockets can prevent the cake from achieving a smooth look on the exterior, particularly in areas of the pan with fine detail. This is not to say that you can't bake these kinds of cakes in bundts, but they will not have the smooth appearance of a cake with a tighter structure. Look at your mixing method for clues: Cakes that use a creaming or blending method will usually produce relatively tight crumb structures.
Grease, but don't flour, your pan.
I've found the best results come from just greasing the pan, without the addition of flour. I use nonstick spray to generously coat the pan all over. Be sure to move the pan to slightly different angles to ensure it's evenly coated. Generally speaking, I do not use butter or oil to grease bundt pans—I've found butter actually promotes uneven/excessive browning on the surface, and oil doesn't evenly coat the surface as well as nonstick spray. Don't forget to crease the center part of the pan well, too; that's where a lot of sticking tends to take place!
Heavily tap the pan.
Once you've added the cake batter to your greased pan, lift the pan off your work surface, then heavily tap the pan back down. I'm not talking a light little tap here, really bang the pan down. This motion evens out the cake batter and helps remove larger air pockets. Tap the pan several heavily times, say 6-8, before putting it in the oven. Again, this only works with the correct kind of batter—tapping cake pans holding sponge cake batter will cause the batter to deflate! But thicker batters that produce tighter crumb cakes hold up really well to this technique.
Release while warm.
Once your cake is fully baked, let it cool for about 15 minutes inside the pan before unmolding it onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Unmolding the cake while it's too hot can cause it to break apart during unmolding. This can happen in one of two ways: either some of the cake sticks inside the pan, or even if it removes cleanly from the pan, the action of unmolding can cause the cake to collapse or fall apart a little bit. Allowing it to cool for a few minutes inside the pan allows the cake's structure set. However, it's important to remove the cake from the pan while still warm, as this produces the cleanest release. If you wait until the cake is entirely cool, the cake is likely to fully stick inside the pan. Don't hesitate, just turn your pan over in one smooth motion onto a wire rack. The faster your movement, the cleaner the release!
Here are some glazing tips.
Bundt cakes are perfect for glazing. The most classic look is a partial, drippy glaze, where the icing can follow the shape of the bundt cake as it falls down its sides. See this article for more details:
But I also think it’s worth mentioning a word that doesn’t normally come up when making a bundt cake: crumb coat! Recently, I’ve become a fan of fully glazing a bundt cake in a thin glaze. This is such a yummy and beautiful take on bundt cakes. It allows the cake’s beautiful shape and detail to show through, and makes such a dramatic effect when you go to slice it. I often recommend taking a small portion of the glaze (about 1/6 of it) and using your hands to rub the glaze all over the cake, particularly any spot where there are visible air pockets, cracks, etc. Let this glaze set, then pour the remaining glaze all over the cake for most beautiful results.
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