Springform pans are a wonderful type of bakeware for creating a variety of specialty cakes. At first glance, springform pans may look like any other circular or square cake pan, but upon further inspection, you will notice that springform pans have an attached side lock that traditional cake pans do not have. This side lock is what makes springform pans unique in their capability to allow the sides of the pan to be separated from the base of the pan. With a couple of the following precautionary tips, you can use a springform pan to successfully create some of your favorite cakes.
While a traditional cake can simply be separated from a cake pan by running a sharp knife along the edges and then flipping the cake out of the pan, this cannot be done for certain types of cakes. Specialty cakes like cheesecake or tiramisu are designed in such way that they contain layers of ingredients that must be baked and presented in a specific order. For example, cheesecake usually has a graham cracker or cookie crust that must sit at the bottom of the pan. The cheesecake batter is then poured over this crust before the entire cake is baked. It is not appropriate nor feasible to flip a cheesecake out of a standard cake pan as it will ruin the particular design of the cheesecake and delicate structure of the cream cheese portion.
As mentioned earlier, a springform pan can be a very useful and necessary piece of baking equipment to have in your kitchen. When you're purchasing a springform pan, it's important to invest in a quality pan. Because springform pans rely on their unique side lock feature, if you purchase a low-grade pan, there is a greater chance that your pan's lock will wear out after just a few uses. When looking for a springform pan, try to find one whose lock allows its sides to clamp the bottom base very tightly. It's best if the sides of the pan have a protruding edge along the bottom, or a lip, for the base of the pan to snugly fit into. You should not be able to move the base around once the pan's lock is in place and the sides of the pan are clamped to the bottom.
How you prepare your springform pan will largely depend on how you will be baking the cake:
- No water bath: If you won't be baking your cake in a water bath, simply grease the pan -- just like you would a traditional cake pan -- prior to pouring in your cake batter. Because springform pans have been known to cause slight leakage, wrap the exterior of the pan with a sheet of aluminum foil, or place the springform pan on a larger baking sheet to prevent any messes in your oven.
- Using a water bath: If you will be creating a water bath for your cake to bake in, then it's very important to thoroughly wrap the springform pan in aluminum foil. You do not want any of the water from the water bath to get into your cake; therefore, you should use a long sheet of 18 inch aluminum foil to wrap the entire exterior of the springform pan in a protective barrier. You can also double up on the foil if you want extra reassurance. An alternative to wrapping your springform pan is to place it in a slightly larger, traditional cake pan before placing the entire thing in a water bath. The outer, larger cake pan will not affect your cake from experiencing any of the benefits from the water bath.
Removing the cake from the springform pan is very simple. You'll want to first run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake as soon as it's removed from the oven. This will prevent the cake from sticking to the sides of the pan as the pan cools and consequently expands. Do not remove the sides of the springform pan until the cake has completely cooled to room temperature. Once cooled, unclasp the side lock on the pan, slowly opening and widening the sides of the pan. Gently lift the sides up and off the pan. Place the cake with the base of the pan in your refrigerator until it's chilled. Once thoroughly chilled, use a metal spatula to slide the cake off of the springform pan base.
If you're concerned about your cake not sliding off of the springform pan base as easily as you'd like, you can always insert a cake board or sheet of parchment paper between the base of the pan and your cake batter.