Why You Should Never Use Sweetened Cocoa Powder To Flour Cake Pans

If you've ever tried baking something as simple as a basic chocolate cake — the kind that requires nothing but a handful of ingredients — you know that it's all about getting the details right. Don't skip preheating your oven, invest in good quality chocolate, get your baking time right, and most importantly, grease and flour your cake pan.

According to The Kitchn, once you've greased your cake pan with butter or oil, you should dust the pan with an even layer of flour. The flour works as a barrier between the grease and the cake batter, ensuring that the grease doesn't melt into the batter, and helps your cake glide out smoothly from the pan once it's cool.

As genius as the trick may be, dusting a cake pan with flour has its problems. The bottom of the cake can become quite dry because of the flour. Plus, no one wants to see a layer of white on top of a dark brown chocolate cake (unless it's sugar). The solution? Flour your cake pans with cocoa powder — specifically, the unsweetened kind (via Cuisine At Home).

Flouring cake pans with cocoa powder does the same job as flour in creating a barrier between grease and batter, but without giving you an ugly, clumpy layer of white on a stunning brown-colored cake. Besides, cocoa powder will also add chocolatey flavor to the cake, which is only a bonus.

Sweetened cocoa powder can caramelize onto your cake

While using cocoa powder to flour your cake pans is a step that you should probably add to your baking, a chef on Reddit cautions bakers against using any cocoa powder other than the unsweetened kind. In a discussion where chefs shared cooking tips, one cook suggested that while you should ditch flour for cocoa powder when flouring, "DO NOT use sweetened cocoa powder or semi-sweet [cocoa powder] as the sugar will caramelize."

Sweetened or semi-sweet cocoa powder, as the name suggests, is nothing but unsweetened cocoa powder with the addition of some amount of sugar (via Our Everyday Life). As the cake bakes in the oven, the sugar in the cocoa powder will start to caramelize and harden. Except, that's not always such a bad thing. One Reddit user found that the caramelized sugar was actually a nice touch: "Not always a bad thing. I 'floured' a lemon drizzle once with demerara. It came out with crunchy caramelized edges." Food52 too found that instead of melting and turning into a sticky syrup, sugar actually adds a nice and crunchy sweet crust. It all depends on whether or not you're a fan of toasted sugar on top of a moist cake.