Is it because I use spray oil? Too much? I've tried spraying, then flouring but it doesn't seem to make a difference.
It's really hard to get the sides of a cake straight when they are pulled away from the edge of the pan...
Without more info, my guess would be that you are baking the cakes too long or they don't have enough moisture in the cake. Are you using a cake mix? A scratch recipe? Whole milk/water/skim milk? Butter vs. oil?
Usually, cakes pull (dramatically) away from the sides of the pan when they're overbaked...
Don't use spray oil so I don't know if that's a factor. But you might want to try making your own pan
grease and see if that resolves the issue. (Just mix together equal parts oil, shortening and flour.)
There are more baking hints & tips in this thread:
(Also frosting, fondant and doctored cake mix recipes - and so much more!.)
Handy cake troubleshooting charts:
over baking can cause the cake to pull away from the sides
I used to use cake release but now just spray Pam and don't have that problem. You are baking too long. Try pulling them out sooner.
Long time ago you could get your oven calibrated, when it started messing up. NO MORE!
So, you may be over baking. This is not your fault! The oven could be off in La La land and doing what it wants to do.
Borrowing from Alton Brown, the best tool that only has one use is an oven thermometer. It has helped me. My oven bakes either 25 degrees too low or 25 too high. Normally, it's only 15 degrees too low. Sometimes it just goes nuts.
It can also depend on weather conditions. I'm trying to figure out how to fix all my cakes now that TX is getting rain.
For perfectly baked cakes, check with a toothpick - there should be some moist (NOT wet) crumbs on it when you pull it out of the oven. IF it comes out all clean (no crumbs) it is overbaked.
You may be overfilling your pans. It takes so long for the center to finish cooking, the outer edges have already overcooked and pulled away.
I agree with others, the cakes are probably overbaking. Also if you let them cool in the pan for longer then 7 min there will be additional shrinkage. One trick that I learned from my DH cousin (that works in a very well know bakery here) is that when you think your cake is just about ready you place your hand in the oven and with just the tips of your finders you slighly touch the cake top. If the impressions of your fingers stay on the cake, then it needs more time. If the cake just fluffs back up with no impression, then it is ready. No need to poke cake! I love this method because i hate looking for toothpicks to poke cake.
Rosa - that method isn't foolproof - I used to check that way, but the WASC cake recipe tricked me a couple of times....it would act done by touching it - but the centers were a little under done. That is why I do the toothpick method each time now just to be sure.
Oh, I have used that recipe a few times but due to cost I just stick to box mix without the extras in there. It works great for me but I guess it can vary on different recipes. What do you think is better pam for baking (the one that has the flour) or cake release (like the one wilton sells). I usually use pam and have no problems but I wonder if there is something better out there.
I personally use the homemade cake release (equal portions of flour, vegetable oil, and shortning) I haven't found anything that works better than that.
I recently bought the Crisco baking spray and I found that it causes my cakes to do this. Much more so that Pam. But I've gone back to butter and flour.
Over baking...to hot oven. Try turning the oven down a bit. Wet some towels, strip them up and place around the outside of the pan. It will help that not to happen, keeping the outside of the cake baking the same as the inside. I do this on all my cakes.
Thanks for all of the responses. I guess it is clear that I need to take them out of the oven a little earlier!