The Easy Way To De-Pan Cakes Without Creating A Broken Mess

There are a lot of good reasons to fear baking cakes. If you've ever tried to make one, chances are you've experienced at least one of the 19 mistakes everyone makes when baking a cake, from mixing the batter incorrectly to totally failing at the decorations. However, one of the worst mistakes is when the cake breaks and crumbles as you try to remove it from the pan. Thanks to a handy trick involving parchment paper and a damp paper towel, you might not have to deal with broken cake ever again — and if you do, try using the crumbles to make some classic cake pops

TikTok creator posted a video showing a foolproof method for getting cakes out of the pan with minimal crumbling. First, line the pan with parchment paper before adding the batter and bake the cake as usual. After the cake has cooled, drag a knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan to separate the cake from anywhere it has stuck. Finally, cover the top of the cake with a damp paper towel, then press a cake board or tray against it. Flip the cake onto the tray to peel the parchment paper off the bottom, then flip it back onto the tray you'll be decorating or serving it on before gently peeling the paper towel away. The moisture from the damp paper towel helps keep the soft, sometimes sticky top layer of cake in place.

Other ways to keep your cake's top layer together

Commenters on the TikTok video had lots to say about this way of ensuring cakes don't crumble apart as they're taken out of pans and offered suggestions. However, the original poster couldn't stand behind all of them. One commenter asked about using parchment paper, but the TikToker explained that when they attempted to use parchment paper, the cake stuck. Others said they've successfully used wax paper. Another person shared a different workaround: "I use the sugar syrup and patch those crumbs back, freeze and then crumb coat...nobody knows." 

Of course, you could always take measures to prevent a too-sticky cake top in the first place. Hint: It is usually caused by covering or wrapping the cake before it has fully cooled or by letting it cool for too long before flipping.

The cake in the TikTok video was made in a sheet pan, but this hack can be used for cakes made in everything from Aldi's fan-favorite cake pan to classic square cake pans. However, don't forget to focus on the bottom of the cake. Try Julia Child's hack for lining a cake pan with parchment paper, or consider testing a 3-ingredient baking spray alternative you can make at home. Once armed with a papered and sprayed pan, damp paper towels, and a couple of trays or cake boards, your chances of getting the cake out of the pan unscathed will improve dramatically.