Alice Medrich

A Better Way to Get Cakes Out of Their Pans

September 23, 2013

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

Today: Alice shows us her favorite way to get cakes out of their pans (in one piece).

Two Racks are Better Than One on Food52

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Cooling racks are great for cooling cakes and cookies, but racks can also take the scary moment out of removing cakes from their pans -- especially delicate layers, sheet cakes, and roulade sheets -- and turning them right side up again afterward without breakage. Two racks are better than one. Keep two small round or square racks for regular size cakes and two large oblong racks if you make sheet cakes or jelly rolls. Inexpensive racks are fine, no Cadillacs needed.

After detaching the cake (still hot or cooled) from the sides of the pan with a knife or spatula, cover the pan with a rack; hold the rack and pan together and flip the whole business over. Remove the pan and peel off the parchment liner (you used one, didn’t you?). To turn the cake right side up again (to prevent the top of the cake from sticking to the rack as it cools), place the second rack on the cake, hold the two racks together gently, without squeezing the cake, and repeat the flip.

More: Get everything you need to make the towering cakes of your dreams in our Provisions Layer Cakes collection.

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.

  • littleman
  • cookinalong
  • BurgeoningBaker
  • AntoniaJames
  • Amanda Hesser
    Amanda Hesser
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!).


littleman September 24, 2013
I've always set a sheet of parchment over a cake, followed by a cutting board. I flip the cake, it falls out of the pan, and I right it again by setting the original cooling rack on top of the bottom, and flip it once more, leaving the parchment circle on the bottom to give the cake some stability as it cools.
cookinalong September 23, 2013
Good tip, but I also find it helps to put a piece of parchment or waxed paper over the top of the cake before you flip it. It prevents the cake sticking to the rack & the rack leaving marks on the top of the cake. The second is no tragedy if you're planning to put icing on it, but if not, it does keep it looking tidier.
AntoniaJames September 23, 2013
Yes, that's an excellent idea. ;o)
BurgeoningBaker September 23, 2013
Ummm this article doesn't tell you a better way to get the cake OUT of the pan. It just tells you a common sense way of getting the cake back upright after inverting it without having to worry about breaking a dish.
AntoniaJames September 23, 2013
You run a knife gently around the side of the pan (which presumably was butter and floured, etc.). The parchment keeps the cake from sticking to the bottom of the pan. I say this, not as any sort of expert, but as someone who has used this method (though we did not use parchment when I was a young girl, we used aluminum foil) exclusively for five decades. In my experience, it helps to let the cake sit in the pan for a few minutes, to allow the top to dry out just a bit. If it's too warm, bits will cling to the rack used to flip it. ;o)
AntoniaJames September 23, 2013
That is how my mother taught me to do it, when I was a young child. I did not realize that there is any other way . . . what's the alternative? I'm really curious about this. ;o)
Amanda H. September 23, 2013
Great tip -- thanks!