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Cake Sizes and Portion Sizes

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Wedding Cake
Nerida McMurray Photography/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Cakes come in many different sizes, shapes, and configurations. Sometimes it is difficult to know what cake design is appropriate for the amount of guests expected for the event. Round, square and heart shaped cakes all produce different numbers of portions and more unusual octagonal or hexagonal cakes yield similar number of portions as their square counterparts.

The type of cake used also will determine the number of portions cut, for example traditional fruit cake is very firm and can be precisely cut into very small pieces. Consider that most ceremonial cake slices at most weddings are about 4 inches high and 2 inches by 1 inch wide. Most cakes will be made up of two layers of cake with icing between the layers. When estimating the size of the wedding cake assume the serving size will at least be that big and then figure out how many are needed for the guests. Always add extra servings because you may end up inviting last-minute guests or people may want second helpings. You must also consider whether the portions are meant to be dessert or the cake cutting is more ceremonial in nature. Dessert portions are obviously meant to be bigger than the traditional two inches by one inch piece of cake. No guest would be satisfied with that size dessert!

Sometimes cutting the different tiers of a cake to get the correct number of portions can seem very tricky especially round or heart shaped creations. Figure out before the reception or event how you plan to proceed to avoid running out of cake or having too much left over. There is a method professional cake decorators use to cut their creations to ensure neat uniform pieces. Never include the top tier in your calculations for servings when making a wedding cake because it is often removed and kept for the first Anniversary. An easy cake cutting method is as follows:

Round Cakes

  1. Remove top tier first if keeping it.
  2. Cut a smooth evenly spaced circle about 2 inches in from the second cake tier's outer edge.
  3. Cut the ring into slices that are about 1 inch across.
  4. Cut another circle 2 inches farther in and slice that ring into 1-inch pieces.
  5. Continue this process until you have only a small circle of cake left in the center. Cut the core into pieces that measure approximately 1 inch along the outer edge.
  6. Remove the cake board and dowels and repeat this process with the next tiers until all the cake is cut.

Square Cakes

  1. Remove top tier first if keeping it.
  2. Cut the second tier straight across, approximately two inches in from the outer edge of the cake.
  3. Slice the two inch strip into one inch pieces.
  4. Continue cutting two inch wide strips and then cutting the strips into slices that are one inch across until the cake is completely cut up.
  5. Remove the cake board and dowels and repeat this process with the next tiers until all every tier is cut.

Keep in mind that a square cake will produce more portions of cake than a round or heart shaped cake. Also when planning a tiered cake design make sure your smallest base size is ten inches minimum otherwise the cake will not be stable or look in proportion.

Sometimes no matter how carefully you plan the cake simply will not yield enough pieces or there will be a lot left over when it is cut. This can happen because everyone cuts cakes differently. When you really want accurate portions for an event cupcakes can be a logical option to consider. Cupcake stands help create gorgeous elegant configurations and you just have to bake the amount of cupcakes you need for each guest. No cutting or math required! Still make a few extra cupcakes for those unforeseen guests and second helpings.

Approximate Cake Portions Servings Chart

Single Cakes

Cake Sizes Round Sponge Square Sponge Heart Shaped
5 Inch 8 8 6
6 Inch 11 17 12
7 Inch 15 24 16
8 Inch 20 27 24
9 Inch 27 35 28
10 Inch 35 45 30
11 Inch 45 56 35
12 Inch 50 67 40
14 Inch 64 98 45

Tiered Cakes

Cake Sizes Round Sponge Square Sponge Heart Shaped
6,10 Inch 38 50 42
8,12 Inch 70 84 64
12,16 Inch   170  
6,8,10 Inch 66 88 90
6,9,12 Inch 75    
8,10,12 Inch 105 139 120
6,8,10,12 inch 116 156  
8,10,12,14 Inch 169 237  
6,8,10,12,14 Inch 180 254  
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