Grease and flour is the go-to method for preparing cake pans, but something about it always rubbed me the wrong way. Too little and the cake clings. Too much and the cake develops a pasty exterior.
Then, one of my friends (also a baker), let me in on a little secret: You can grease and sugar instead.
At first, I worried that the sugar would caramelize, creating a sticky sauce—but the sheer, lace-like coating does nothing of the sort. Unlike flour, which clumps, sugar granules want to establish an even layer. And unlike raw-ish flour, which no one wants on the outside of their cake, toasted sugar creates a sweet, sparkly, crunchy crust.
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Grease the pan, add a big scoop of sugar, tap around until there’s an even coat, then toss the excess. Use the trick anywhere you would grease and flour—save for savory applications. You can even grease, line, and sugar, too. I love the texture it lends to pudding-soft cakes, like this olive oil number; the sturdy crust that stands up better to frosting; and the oomph it adds to everyday snack and pound cakes.
If you’re feeling fancy, add salt or ground spices to the sugar. Or, if you’re making chocolate cake, stir in cocoa powder.
Just leave the flour on the shelf.