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What Size Cake Pan Do I Need?

Warning: There is nothing sexy about this post. There is nothing funny or beautiful about it either. (Okay, I did slip one pretty cake photo in at the end.) But it is practical. And it is informative. And, okay, a little boring. And one day, you might need this information. And then maybe you’ll be glad I wrote this.

If selecting the proper pan size is a bit of a mystery, this post is for you.

There are many serving charts out there, all with different slice yields per pan.  What accounts for these differences? The size of the slice. The larger the slice of cake, the fewer servings your pan will yield.

Wedding cake slices are much smaller than standard, party-sized slices since they are meant only to be symbolic and traditionally follow a big meal. Wedding cake slices are usually 1″ wide and 2″ deep. (Height is also a factor that we won’t be considering here. The taller your cake, the more cake will be in a slice that’s 1″ x 2″. Slices from cakes that are only 3″ in height are shorter–and therefore offer less cake–than those from cakes 5″ in height.)

I’ve relied pretty exclusively on the Wilton chart for my whole cake career. Since my cakes tend to be about 5″ tall, I know that guests are getting a generous amount of cake. However, you’ll notice that some of the pan sizes are not shown on the Wilton chart. My typical top tier is a 5″ round, and I often use 11″ cake pans. (My preferred brand of cake pan: Magic Line).

To determine the exact number of servings, we have to take it back to high school math. Remember sitting in math class thinking (or, if you’re anything like me, actually daring to utter aloud) “When are we gonna need this stuff?” Well, here’s where.

To determine the number of servings, divide the area of the pan by the area of the slice. Easy enough, right?

Here’s everything you’ll need to remember.

Now we’re ready to begin.

Determine the number of cake servings in a ROUND pan.

1. Determine the area of the pan using the formula for the area of a circle and following the steps below.

  • Step 1
  • Figure out the radius (r), which is half of the diameter (d)
  • Step2
  • Multiply the radius by itself (r · r)
  • Step 3
  • Multiply the product from Step 2 by 3.14

2. Determine the area of each slice (l · w)
3. Determine the number of servings by dividing the area of the pan by the area of each slice

Determine the number of cake servings in a SQUARE or RECTANGULAR pan.

1. Determine the area of the pan using the formula (l · w)

2. Determine the area of each slice (l · w)
3. Determine the number of servings by dividing the area of the pan by the area of each slice

TEST: How many 1″ x 2″ cake servings in a 5″ ROUND pan?

1. Determine the area of the pan using the formula and following the steps below.

  • Step 1
  • d = 5; r = 2.5
  • Step2
  • ( r · r ) = 2.5 · 2.5 = 6.25
  • Step3
  • 6.25 · 3.14 = 19.625

The area of a 5″ pan is 19.625
2. Determine the area of each 1″ x 2″ slice (l · w): 1 · 2 = 2. The area of each slice is 2.
3. Divide the area of the pan (19.625) by the area of each slice (2): 19.625/2 = 9.8125. You can round up or down. I always prefer to have more cake, so I round down. In this example, a 5″ pan yields 9 (1″ x 2″) servings.

TEST: How many 1″ x 2″ cake servings in a 9″ SQUARE pan?

1. Determine the area of the pan using the formula (l · w). Here, length = 9 and width = 9. 9 x 9 = 81

The area of a 9″ square pan is 81.
2. Determine the area of each 1″ x 2″ slice (l · w): 1 · 2 = 2. The area of each slice is 2.
3. Divide the area of the pan (81) by the area of each slice (2): 81/2 = 40.55. A 9″ square pan yields 40 (1″ x 2″) slices of cake.

Of course, the larger the slice, the fewer servings per pan. Let’s say you feel that a 1″ x 2″ slice is too skimpy. You prefer a slice that is 2″ x 2″.

TEST: How many 2″ x 2″ cake servings in an 11″ ROUND pan?

1. Determine the area of the pan using the formula and following the steps below.

  • Step 1
  • d = 11; r = 5.5
  • Step 2
  • ( r · r ) = 5.5 · 5.5 = 30.25
  • Step 3
  • 3.14 · 30.25 = 94.985

The area of an 11″ pan is 94.985
2. Determine the area of each 2″ x 2″ slice (l · w): 2 · 2 = 4. The area of each slice is 4.
3. Divide the area of the pan (94.985) by the area of each slice (4): 94.985/4 = 23.75. An 11″ pan yields 23 (rounded down) 2″ x 2″ servings.

As promised, here are some pretty pictures of an embossed buttercream cake we did recently. These photos have nothing to do with this post, unless you want to figure out how many servings there are. It’s a 6″ cake.

Don’t hate me!

Enjoy!

Comment on “What Size Cake Pan Do I Need?”

Bijay

Thank You !!! What a beautiful and informative post. Each day I learn something new through your posts..and this one if one of my favorites.
Reply

Erica OBrien
Really? Thanks!

 

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Hey it might not be a sexy post but when we plan our cakes better – like choosing the right pan – the end result of our cakes are much more sexy! 🙂 So thank you for the great info! 🙂

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