The Trick For Removing Sheet Cake From Its Pan Without Disaster

Let's be honest — the best part of birthday festivities is the cake. While cakes generally come in all shapes, sizes, and flavors, many birthday celebrations take full advantage of the sheet cake form. For clarity, sheet cakes are exactly what they sound like; a sheet of cake, typically baked on a flat, rectangular baking sheet tray. Sounds pretty simple, right?

Well, not exactly. Indeed, sheet cakes are incredibly easy to make. Baking a sheet cake, whether for a birthday celebration or another group get-together, is fairly basic — not to mention versatile. Boxed cake mix can do the job just fine, as can your favorite cake recipe. Whether you make a tried-and-true chocolate cake or an iteration of a layer cake is entirely up to you. 

Yet while making a sheet cake isn't particularly challenging, you're not in the clear once the cake enters the oven. In fact, baking is often a breeze compared to what comes next. Removing a sheet cake from the sheet is the final step of the baking process, but this last endeavor often proves finicky. Sheet cake tends to stick to its tray or leave the pan in jagged pieces, rather than as one smooth and consistent rectangle. 

Luckily, there's one simple trick to get your sheet cake off the tray in one piece. This hack requires a particular kitchen tool — and no, it's neither a knife nor a spatula. 

Use a wire rack that matches — or exceeds — the size of your cake

The best way to get your sheet cake out of the pan? Flip the tray over — and onto a wire rack.

If you bake frequently, a wire rack is a necessary investment. For cakes, it proves especially beneficial. Wire racks are usually used to cool baked goods, but for sheet cakes, they serve two purposes. They let air circulate around the cooling cake and provide the dessert with a flat, even base of support. No floppy, jagged, or stuck-to-the-pan pieces here.

Fair warning, however — not any wire rack will suffice. Rather, to get that even-keeled support, you need a wire rack that matches or stretches beyond the size of your cake. If you use a wire rack that's too small, your warm cake will droop off the sides and potentially break into pieces. 

If you don't have a suitable wire rack handy, you can also use another large sheet tray or cutting board instead. Although they won't help with airflow, either surface for a similar effect of stable support. Follow this simple last step, and your next baking endeavor will be a piece of cake.