We could wax rhapsodic about the wide world of cake for hours (and likely have), but whether we're indulging in a fudgey chocolate-almond stunner  or a classic yellow cake , one crucial step in cake prep holds constant. In our less-informed days, we occasionally skipped taking the care and time to prep a cake pan properly, writing it off as a fussy, time consuming step. Let's just say we learned our lesson the hard way . . . and when it comes down to it, this step is a necessity — and actually quite simple. So learn from our mistakes, and do it right.
Set Up Mise en Place
You'll need a cake pan — pictured is 9 inches — same-size parchment circles, which you can either make yourself  or buy , about 1-1/2 teaspoons butter, flour, and a pastry brush (a paper towel works in a pinch).
Melt the Butter
Add about 1-1/2 teaspoons butter, or 2 teaspoons if using a paper towel (as the paper towel will absorb more butter), to the pan, and melt it in the oven, which is likely already preheating for your cake.
Brush the Butter Around
Brush (or spread with a paper towel) the melted butter evenly over the bottom and sides of the cake pan. Don't dump out any excess butter (yet).
Add the Parchment Circle
Add the parchment circle to the bottom of the pan. Take care to smooth it out, pressing out any air bubbles. Some of the residual butter will spill over the parchment circle during this process — this is OK (good, actually).
Brush With Butter
Brush the parchment circle with the residual butter, adding a very small amount of melted butter if necessary.
Dust With Flour
Sprinkle a large spoonful of all-purpose flour into the pan. If making a chocolate cake, use cocoa powder instead, since the color of cocoa powder will contrast less with the cake.
Tap Out Excess Flour
Spread the flour all around the interior of the pan, without using your fingers or a spatula, by tilting the pan, so that flour falls on all of the buttered surface. Tap out any excess flour into the kitchen sink or a trash can, firmly rapping against the bottom of the pan to remove all but the thinnest film of flour.
That's it! Your pan is prepped and ready to be filled with cake batter .