I've been learning some hard lessons about when a cake sticks in the pan. It's always fun when this happens, and that's why there are about a thousand YouTube videos out there that give advice on how to grease and flour a baking pan. However, most cake recipes treat all pans alike, so that a heavy-duty cake pan is seen in the same manner as a flimsy "non-stick" dollar store baking pan. I'm fortunate to own a cast iron bundt pan – but why should I treat this in the same manner as a flimsy dollar store cake pan? Especially since there's a certain other dessert, made especially in a cast iron pan, that doesn't require you to grease and flour the pan in advance: Skillet Cornbread.
Yes, cornbread. Now, when we make cornbread in a cast iron skillet, we preheat the pan in the oven, add oil and heat that up, then add our batter to the pan. This forms a tasty crust, and it also helps the cornbread to pop right out of the pan with no sticking. What's more, this method can be used with other baked pastries besides cornbread…but not any people seem willing to try this. But if you want to increase your cake success rate, you may want to try this method and see if it helps.
Pans needed: One medium to large bowl for dry ingredients. A large mixing bowl for wet ingredients plus dry ingredients. A heavy metal bundt cake pan, such as cast iron or thick cast aluminum. Because we're going to be heating the pan to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, you must not use a pan with a nonstick surface. Teflon and similar substances can produce fumes when heated to temperatures of this kind.
This cake is prepared in a manner similar to traditional Skillet Cornbread. This means we don't grease and flour the pan in advance! Instead, place the dry pan into the oven, and heat the oven and pan to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
As the oven is heating, prepare your ingredients. In a medium to large bowl, mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt. It's important to whisk the dry ingredients together, because this incorporates air into the batter and helps it to rise. In a large mixing bowl, cream together softened butter and sugar: mix these two ingredients together until they are combined into a paste. Mix in the remaining wet ingredients: eggs, lemon zest and lemon juice, vanilla extract, and buttermilk. When it's all mixed, gently mix the dry ingredients in with the mixer on slow speed. Gently mix everything together into a batter.
When the oven temperature reaches 425 degrees, carefully remove the cake pan from the oven. Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and brush the sides of the pan so the entire baking surface is covered. Place the cake pan back in the oven to heat the oil. Wait five minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, add the hot oil to the cake batter, and stir it all together. Pour the batter into the hot cake pan. (As anyone who makes cornbread knows, it isn't right if you don't hear the sizzle.)
Place the cake into the hot oven. Then, without opening the oven, immediately turn the temperature down to 350 degrees, and set the oven timer for one hour and five minutes, or 65 minutes. This will let the temperature gradually decrease, and keep the cake from burning.
The cake is so moist that when 65 minutes have passed, it may not look as though it's done. Testing with a skewer should show the cake is indeed done.
Let the cake rest and cool for twenty minutes before flipping it.