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Determining the Size of a Sheet Cake

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Determining the Size of a Sheet Cake
Used under licence from iStock

One of the most common problems with making a sheet cake for your event trying to decide exactly how many people a certain size sheet cake can serve and how many layers are required. This is one of the first questions new bakers have when attempting to bake these confusing creations and the answer is entirely dependent upon who is asked the question. At least the shape is usually rectangular so that does not affect the calculations!

A sheet cake is a fast solution when you have to make a cake to accommodate a great deal of people. One problem which can occur for home bakers is that standard large baking sheets do not fit in residential ovens. Several quarter sheet trays need to be combined to prepare bigger creations and baking sheets now come in a dizzying assortment of choices which causes even more dimension confusion.

An easy way to eliminate issues is to firmly establish the number of people attending your event and then look carefully at the size and number of servings you require to satisfy the guests. There are some important factors that can affect how you decide your sheet cake needs but generally the following guidelines can be applied:

  • Quarter Sheet Cake: This cake is perfect for a children's party, potluck event or even a small office celebration. This size can be handled easily by amateur bakers and can be stacked to create a sumptuous treat for guests or clients.
  • Half Sheet Cake: This size of cake is usually what you will find when you stumble upon a store launch at your local grocery store, a larger birthday party or even an anniversary party. The larger surface is perfect for more elaborate decoration and a longer message written in icing. A half sheet cake is quite large but still easy to make and bake with a little organization and space.
  • Full Sheet Cake: This is the hardest cake to create in a home kitchen because it not only requires a perfectly calibrated large oven but also needs a full plan to store and transport the finished creation. It also takes a little expertise to create multi layered full sheet cakes without a great deal of frustration and to achieve good results. Full sheet cakes are wonderful for exciting corporate events that need logos or extravagant decorations to satisfy the guests and importance of the event.

Tips for Wonderful Sheet Cakes

  1. It is virtually impossible to torte (cut in half) a sheet cake of any size without it cracking or crumbling. A technique used by professional bakers is to bake multiple thinner layers and simply stack them between delectable icing layers to create the height you need for the cake design.
  2. Precautions must be taken when making sheet cakes to ensure they do not get too thin or break before the cake is assembled. Sheet cakes are usually thinner than standard cakes so can be prone to texture and moisture issues. It is important to prepare your pans well with flour and butter as well as parchment paper to prevent your sheet cake from sticking. Check your baking cake at least a couple times to determine if it is finished taking into account a shorter baking time than a standard recipe.
  3. Never assume standard or favorite cake recipes can be successfully baked into large sheet cakes. These often turn out too dry and can be overcooked very easily. Try to find recipes that are designed specifically for a sheet configuration.
  4. Place your baked sheet cake in the freezer or at least the fridge wrapped in plastic before you stack them to ensure they are easier to handle. Always chill the sheet cake if you are going to torte it so it is firm and cuts smoothly.
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