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Baking is meditative. It’s methodical, deliberate, and rewards you positively at the end. Plus, there’s periodic cracking, kneading, punching, and beating involved. If you’re baking a cake or pan of brownies, there’s also smacking. The quickest way to evenly spread thick batter in a pan is not with a spoon or spatula, but with a feisty smack-and-spin.

Batters can range in consistency from thin and watery devil’s food to thick and sticky carrot cake. Thin batters need less convincing, but anything semi-thick requires maneuvering, spreading, and smoothing to make sure it doesn’t stay mounded in the center. You can smooth it out with a spoon or spatula, but you might have to deal with some awkward angling, especially with something narrow like a loaf pan, or irregular like an ornate bundt pan. And then there’s always the annoyance of washing yet another spatula. (Yes, I’ll find a work around if it means I have one less thing to wash.)

The smack-and-spin is a time-saving technique used in bakeries, and it’s ideal for preparing large batches of cakes for the oven. (It’s not really intended to save you from washing dishes, but it is totally a bonus.) Instead of meticulously smoothing out batter with a wee four-inch offset spatula, grab the cake pan securely with both hands, and thump it into the countertop. I’m not suggesting WWE moves, just slap it flat against the counter from about an inch or two away. Now give the whole pan a fierce spin. Just a couple rotations will do it, but if the batter is especially thick, you can smack-and-spin one more time. The initial smack spreads the batter down from its central mounded shape, and the forces generated by the spin pushes the batter from the center out toward the edges of the pan. It’s one quick, fluid movement, and in about two seconds flat, you’ve evenly spread the cake batter.

I generally use this technique for quick leveling when I’m baking multiple layers of cake, but after a while it can become a habit. Not to mention, it’s fun to do. You can smack-and-spin any average size cake pan, but be careful with glass and ceramic dishes. Avoid large sheet cakes which are rather awkward and need a lot of countertop space to make it work. American-style cakes are ideal batters because they use chemical leaveners, so this rough treatment won’t inhibit the rise. Don’t practice this method with delicate sponge cakes that use whipped eggs as their leavening agent, as doing so might pop some important bubbles. After a successful spin, pop the cakes in the oven and bake as usual.