Cooling the Cake
Cakes need to cool properly before they're handled. First, allow cakes to cool in their pans for a while. If a cake hasn't cooled enough, it will be quite reluctant to leave the pan -- some of the cakes may stick to the pan, or half of the cake will come out, and the other half will stay attached. Removing a cake from the pan too soon or too late can drastically change the appearance and texture of the cake. Wire cooling racks are perfect for cake to cool on after they're removed from baking pans, because the wire cooling racks allow air to circulate all around the cakes while it cools.
Some kinds of cakes require specific cooling techniques, such as:
- Butter cakes: After removing butter cakes from the oven, let them stand in the baking pans
on wire cooling racks for 10 minutes, or as the cake recipe directs. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the sides of the baking pan.
Using oven mitts or hot pads, place a wire cooling rack on top of the cake and baking pan. Turn cake over so wire cooling rack is on the bottom. Gently shake the cake to release it from the baking pan. Remove the baking pan and peel off the paper liner from the cake, if one was used. Turn the cake right side up onto a second rack to finish cooling.
If you let the cake cool in the pan too long, it may not come out easily. Try putting it back in the oven at 250°F for three minutes to help loosen it.
For greater success in removing the cake from the pan use Pan Release. Pan Release uses a combination of ingredients that you generally have on hand and can be kept in the refrigerator to use anytime you need to grease bakeware. There generally is no need to run a knife around the edge of the pan before removing the cake. It will just slide out without leaving any crumbs in the pan or on the sides of the cake.
- Sponge or angel food cakes: Sponges and angel food cakes are leavened with air, so they have to cool hanging upside down or they will collapse into themselves. The easiest way is to use a pan that has feet attached to the pan. Just flip around the feet, and turn the cake upside down. If you pan doesn't have feet, don't worry -- just turn the pan over onto the neck of a wine bottle or long, heatproof funnel. If those aren't handy, balance the edges of the pan on inverted mugs or cups. Allow the cake to completely cool for several hours. Then remove the pan from the bottle and slide a sharp knife with a long, thin blade between the cake and side of the pan to free any sticking crumbs. Place a plate over the top of the tube pan, flip it over, and remove the pan.
- Cheesecakes: Allowing the cheesecake to fully set before removing the springform pan is important. Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack away from drafts at least 1 hour until it reaches room temperature. Then cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to set for at least four hours -- overnight is ideal. After the cheesecake is completely chilled, run a butter knife between the cake and the edge of the pan, unlatch the fastener, gently release the springform ring, and lift straight up, away from the cheesecake.