Cakes baked in fluted tube pans form their own beautiful decoration and often require nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa if that. However, if the pan is not prepared properly, the cake will not release well and some of the lovely decorative parts will be stuck to the pan.I have found only one supermarket product that works to give a full release to the cake and that is Baker's Joy, which contains flour and lecithin. Other products simply don't work nearly as well. Pam cooking spray is excellent for other uses but for baking, the Pam with flour and lecithin for some reason does not release well and, to my taste, it imparts an unpleasant taste to the cake. The best way to coat the pan, using Baker's Joy, is to use an even spray and then to brush out any excess to avoid air bubbles. Also wipe the top edge of the pan with a paper towel to keep the pan clean during baking. If you can't find Baker's Joy, the best substitute is solid vegetable shortening and flour, preferably Wondra flour, but any will do. Use a brush for the shortening to make sure you reach all the nooks and crannys. Then add some flour and tap and rotate the pan to coat evenly. Invert the pan and tap out any excess flour. If you like a high shine on the cake's surface, here's a great tip from the late Rich Hecomovich who worked for Nordicware: Set the pan in a 325°F/160°C for 1 to 3 minutes until warm. If the pan is hot, allow it to cool just until warm. Coat the inside of the pan with Baker's Joy. Then take a small pastry brush and brush the spray into all the groves. (The warm pan will melt and thin out the spray.) Flip the pan upside down on a paper towel to let the excess coating drain out (1 to 3 minutes). Invert the pan and slowly pour in the batter. Set a towel on the counter to buffer the pan and knock the pan on the counter a few times to make the air bubbles/pockets in the batter pull away from the outside of the batter so that the sides of the baked cake will be smooth. And another great tip, from Liz Duffy who was the food stylist for Rose's Heavenly Cakes: To eliminate air bubbles in the surface of the cake, for butter or oil cake recipes: first add a small amount of batter to fill the bottom of the pan, and using the back of a large spoon or spatula, press the batter into the pan's flutings at the bottom. Now here's a tip from me: If you prefer to use unbleached flour, tube pans are perfect to prevent the usual dip in the center. Why? because there is no center!
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