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I'm learning to make cakes from scratch and bought two of these 4-inch round pans to make a small layered cake.

After letting my layers cool, I turned one layer out and the cake fell from the pan after a few good raps on the bottom. The other layer was being a bit stubborn so i used a butter knife to separate the cake from the edge of the pan.

After I did that, I noticed some small shiny bits of metal on the outside of the second layer. I have two questions:

  1. Is this a normal consequence of using aluminum cake pans or did I get a really low quality pan (it was the cheapest one at my local kitchen store)?
  2. If this is a normal consequence of using aluminum cake pans, have I ruined this pan by scratching it or can I use it again as long as I don't use a metal knife to release the cake?
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Steel (as used in knives) will always scratch aluminium, which is really quite a soft metal. Glass and even some plastics can mark it quite noticeably as can storing aluminium pans stacked together. In other words it happens. Don't worry about it. The pan doesn't look as nice but it's not ruined. The main reason to avoid scratching it is to avoid getting fragments in the food.

I have a set of miniature pudding basins made of aluminium and if things don't just fall out, the only tool I can find that helps is a butter knife (they're too curved for any of my silicone tools or plastic pallette knife to get in nicely). But an old, smooth, worn one, and that doesn't scrape material off (though it does leave a mark.)

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    Plastic knife such as sold for picnics. I've no idea what you'll do with the horrid forks and spoons, but the knives casn be handy: duckduckgo.com/… – Wayfaring Stranger Feb 13 '18 at 0:12
  • @WayfaringStranger not a bad idea but you have to choose carefully. I've tried. Some of them soften at such low temperatures you can't use them to get hot things out. Others are quite thick at least at the back of the blade. But I might have some disposable ones that would do the trick. I probably won't remember by the next time I use these basins – Chris H Feb 13 '18 at 7:15
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    "Bare" aluminium will "recondition" itself very quickly. Just make sure the loose fragments are gone, and that you didn't have a nonstick coating which you damaged so badly that it will FLAKE off. – rackandboneman Feb 13 '18 at 10:04
  • @rackandboneman anodised aluminium is common and will never quite be the same again. But near enough – Chris H Feb 13 '18 at 11:53

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