Springform pans make it easy to get delicate cakes out of the pan without damaging them, but they aren't a necessity, despite what any recipe says.
What is a Springform Pan?
A springform pan is a type of cake pan that’s made in two parts. It has a base and a removable ring that serves as the side of the pan. When you attach the ring to the base, you have a complete cake pan that functions like any other cake pan. It’s nothing special at all.
But when you take it apart, that’s when the springform pan shines. If you have a fragile cake, like cheesecake, you can make it in this pan. Then, you can take the sides off when you’re done, so the cake is still sitting on the pan's base. Slicing and serving your cake become much easier, completely eliminating the need to transfer the cake from the pan, and removing all risk of breaking your cake in the process.
4 Alternatives to a Springform Pan
If you don't have a springform pan in your kitchen collection, don't sweat it. There are several things that you can use in its place. Here are some options to consider:
1. Serve Your Cake From the Pan
Do you really need to remove the cake from the pan? If you're willing to skip posting a photo of the finished product, and you don't care about presentation, just serve the finished cake from the pan. As long as it's tasty, no one will care.
2. Line a Cake Pan With Parchment Paper or Aluminum Foil
Any cake pan or pie plate will do just fine as a substitute for a springform pan. Line the pan with foil or parchment paper so that you can gently lift the cake out when it’s done. Leave a good length of foil or paper hanging out of the pan to make it easier to lift. You might even think of using a square pan so that you can line it with two layers, one in each direction. This approach gives you a sling that you can use to lift the cake without breaking it. Sometimes having a second person to assist with the lifting is also helpful.
3. Bake the Cake in a Silicone Cake Pan
If your cake can be inverted to remove from the pan, silicone cake pans are marvels for releasing the cake intact, and they're available in every shape imaginable. Silicone pans won't work well for cheesecake, but they offer a good alternative for sturdier cakes. Be sure to spray and flour the mold well to help with the release.
4. Bake the Cake in a Disposable Foil Pan
Buy a single-use foil pan and cut away the sides after the cake has cooled. To get the best release, cool the cake in the refrigerator and run a sharp knife around the edge before cutting away the foil. This method is based on the same concept as a springform pan, without requiring you to buy (and store) yet another pan. This approach is a definite winner if you plan to gift your cake, or take it to an event, because you don't have to worry about getting your pan back.The dollar store is a good source for these cheap, throw-away pans. They carry them in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Adjusting Recipes for Springform Pan Substitutes
Because springform pans tend to be fairly tall, you'll probably need to split your cake filling between two pans or use a large pan, like a 9"x13”. In either case, plan to adjust your baking time. Cakes in shallower pans bake faster. Watch your cake closely, and pull it out of the oven as soon as it’s done.
More Stand-Ins for Kitchen Equipment
If there are other things, besides a springform pan, that you don't yet own, you can probably find an alternative for them, too. Just click on any of these kitchen tools for a list of replacements.