If you spend some time perusing the archives here at BoB, you’ll quickly see that I love to bake Bundt cakes. I love their simplicity and versatility, and I also love that they can be topped with a simple glaze, a sprinkling of confectioners’ sugar, or even left unadorned. No layers or elaborate decorating required!
I find that simplicity to be the beauty of Bundt cakes. It’s my mission to make baking simple with outstanding results, and that makes Bundt cakes a staple in my baking. Plus, I can’t resist all of those beautiful pan designs that turn them into eye-catching desserts!
While Bundt cakes are usually simple recipes, issues can arise because of the unique characteristics of the pans. These are my tips to ensure a Bundt cake that is both delicious and beautiful.
And because we’re all here for the cake, I’m also sharing some of BoB’s best and most popular Bundt cakes for some baking inspiration.
General Baking Tips
First, let’s cover some general baking bases. These are the tips I’ll give you about most anything you’re baking. Measure your ingredients accurately. Use quality ingredients. Check the accuracy of your oven’s temperature. Don’t use dark or shiny pans. Any substitutions you make WILL affect the final result. Now, let’s talk about some tips specific to Bundt cake baking.
Choosing a Bundt Pan
Of course, what makes a Bundt cake a Bundt cake is the pan. There are SO many different Bundt pan designs! I have several, and I’m always wanting more.
With so many pans available, the most important thing is to choose the right pan for your Bundt cake based on the recipe’s recommendation. (And as always, don’t use a dark pan!) Different Bundt pans have varying volume capacities. The recipe should tell you what size pan you need to use. I most commonly use a pan with a 12-cup capacity, but I also use other sizes like 10-cup pans and mini Bundt pans.
Using the right size pan helps prevent overflowing and ensures more even baking. If your pan is too small, you can end up with a big mess in your oven. If it’s too big, then the extra space may lead to less than optimal results with doneness and texture. If nothing else, a cake that doesn’t fill the pan when baked will not be shaped or patterned as you want.
It’s important to use the right size pan to prevent the cake from spilling out of the pan. Every cake recipe will rise a bit differently, but a good general rule is to fill the pan no more than three-quarters full with batter. Otherwise, the cake batter may rise above the top of the pan and overflow.
If you do change the size of your pan to something other than the size recommended in the recipe, stick to the above 3/4-full rule for filling the pan. If you have leftover batter, you can always make a few cupcakes or a smaller cake.
The aesthetics of the pan design are important, too. If you’re planning to top your cake with a glaze or sauce, think about how the glaze will look on the design. Some more elaborate designs are better suited for simpler toppings like confectioners’ sugar or for cakes that don’t need a topping.
If you aren’t sure what size your pan is, fill it with water, 1 cup at a time until it’s filled to the top. The number of cups of water you need will tell you the capacity of your pan.
Greasing the Pan
The most common question I get about baking Bundt cakes is how to keep them from sticking to the pan. No one wants to go to the effort of baking a cake only to have it not release beautifully.
Bundt pans have nooks and crannies that can cause problems when it comes time to remove your cake from the pan. There are a couple of ways to do grease your pan well. You can use melted butter or even solid shortening for coating the pan. Use a pastry brush to cover the entire inner surface, being sure to get into tight spaces. Next, sprinkle flour into the pan. Hold the pan over your sink, and tilt and turn the pan to spread out the flour. Then, with the pan upside down, tap the sides to remove any excess flour.
My preferred way of greasing Bundt pans is to use a cooking spray that contains flour, like Baker’s Joy or Pam Baking. This is how I prepare my Bundt pans 99% of the time. Spray the pan generously, making sure to coat every inner surface of the pan. If necessary, use a pastry brush to distribute the cooking spray evenly onto every surface of the pan.
It’s possible that the spray can drip and settle into the bottom of the pan. To keep that from happening, wait to spray the pan until just before you add the batter.
Also keep in mind that a pan with a lot of scratches can cause sticking issues, too. If you have a well-used pan with a significant number of scratches, it may be time to get a new pan.
Mixing the Batter
Overmixing cake batter can create dry, tough cakes, no matter what kind of cake you’re making. When adding flour and other dry ingredients to your cake batter, mix just until the batter is blended. Once the flour is no longer visible, your batter is likely ready. If you are adding any other ingredients, like chocolate chips or nuts, stop mixing the flour when there are still a few streaks of flour remaining. As you stir in the other ingredients, you will finish mixing the batter.
Adding the Cake Batter to the Pan
Add the batter to the prepared pan slowly, allowing it to fill in the crevices of the pan. My favorite way to do this is to scoop the batter into the pan using a measuring cup or a large scoop. You can roughly distribute the batter this way and then use a spatula to smooth it. After all the batter is in the pan, gently tap the pan on your counter to dislodge any air bubbles that may have formed.
If necessary, you can use a spatula to spread the cake evenly in the pan and into all those crevices. Make sure the center of the batter is not higher than the edges. In fact, you’ll often see recommendations to try to spread the batter a little higher on the edges to help ensure a nicely defined dome for your cake.
Adjusting the Oven Rack
Place the baking rack in the specified position in your oven. If the recipe does not specify where to position the rack, place it in the bottom third of your oven. The bottom third is usually the default position for baking, so I only mention moving the rack if it’s something other than that.
Make sure that the rack is sitting level so that your cake will bake evenly. Place the cake in the center of the rack.
Testing for Doneness
When it’s time to check if your cake is done, insert a long pick, skewer, or a cake tester into the center of the cake. Testing with a pick or cake tester longer than standard toothpicks will allow you to check for doneness nearer the center of the cake. I have an inexpensive cake tester that I use for thicker baked goods like Bundt cakes. Most recipes will direct you to bake until the pick or tester comes out clean.
If the cake isn’t done, check again after a few minutes and repeat until done. Only open the oven door as often as is necessary.
Removing the Cake from the Pan
After your cake has baked, place the pan upright on a wire rack for the length of time specified in the recipe (usually 10 to 20 minutes).
Next, place the wire rack on top of the cake pan. Using both hands, flip the rack and pan simultaneously and set on your counter. Tap the pan a few times to loosen the cake. Gently shaking the pan should cause the cake to move freely in the pan. If you can’t easily tell that the cake has loosened, flip it back over and gently run a thin knife or spatula around the edges of the cake. Your cake should come out easily as you lift the pan.
If the cake feels resistant, leave the pan on the rack for a few minutes to allow gravity to do some of the work. Let your cake cool completely on the rack before you transfer it to a serving plate to keep the bottom from getting soggy.
Bundt cakes can range from simple coffee cakes and pound cakes to cakes brimming with additional ingredients or even a swirl of fruit or other filling. Whatever your favorite recipe is, I hope these tips will help it turn out perfectly! You can find all of my Bundt cake recipes in the Recipe Index.
For some of my favorite Bundt pans and the tools I recommend for baking Bundt cakes, see my Bundt Cake Essentials in my Amazon Storefront.
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