The Trick for Keeping a Cake Pan From Overflowing

Stop oven messes in their tracks.

Butter Pecan Layer Cake with Browned Butter Frosting
Photo: Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Mary Clayton Carl; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Unless you're like my great-grandmother, who was a genius in the kitchen and never needed to consult a recipe for her inimitable biscuits, baking is something of a science. With cooking, you can throw in a pinch of this or add a splash of that, and it'll usually come out fairly tasty, or at the very least, edible.

Baking, however, is a whole different ballgame.

Forget the yeast, and your bread won't rise; don't incorporate the baking soda into your dry ingredients properly, and eating pancakes turns into a game of Minesweeper, with unpleasant little bitterness bombs hidden throughout. And while there's nothing more impressive on a dining room sideboard than a layer cake, baking cakes comes with its own unique set of pitfalls.

But there's one cake-baking disaster that's entirely within your power to avoid: Batter overflow. We've all been there. The amount of batter you've made fills the Bundt pan nearly to the brim, or you scrape every last bit of the batter out of the bowl and into the pan so that you don't have to waste any of your carefully crafted mix, with no regard for what your pan can actually hold.

Of course, you know what happens next: you pop your too-full pan into the oven, hoping for the best, but then the excess cake batter rises just enough to slide down the sides of the pan and all over your hot oven, leaving you with a doozy of a mess to clean up once it's cooled down.

The solution is common sense: Don't fill your pan up with more than it can handle. Sometimes, though, the pan's size isn't marked, or the pan isn't actually the size it says it is (rude!). But even in these stickier situations, there's a good rule of thumb that'll save you the mess every single time: Only fill your cake pans three-quarters of the way.

Give your cake some breathing room, even if it means you've got leftover batter. And excess cake batter is hardly a bad thing: Just use it to make mini Bundt cakes or cupcakes instead. Nobody's ever complained about having too many desserts on the dessert table.

WATCH: Sara Evans' Missouri Dirt Cake

If baking isn't your strong suit, try Sara Evans' super simple (and so delicious!) Missouri Dirt Cake. It's fail-proof!

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