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Aug 30, 2006 01:02 AM

13x9x2 inch cakes--can you make these multi-layer?

I'm making a cake for a child's birthday this weekend. Unfortunately the mother of the child (who happens to be my boss) is unsure how many people will be coming to the party. While she's expecting only 10 children to attend, when you count their parents as well as any stray children that might join in at the last moment, she's decided she'd like me to make a cake to serve 25 people. I'm planning on making a cake using a 13x9x2 pan, and had the idea of doubling a recipe for a cake of this size, and making a two layer (or possibly four layer if I cut each cake in half horizontally, creating two layers from each single layer) cake. Will this feed the group? I'm pretty sure this is equal to a quarter sheet cake, which should definitely feed a group of 25, especially when half of that group is children. Do you all agree?

Also, since I know a single 13x9x2 layer is equivalent to two 9 inch round layers, I was going to take a recipe that yields the two 9 inch rounds and double that, in order to get two 13x9x2...does this seem appropriate? Does anyone have a phenomenal recipe for a vanilla cake that they've both baked in a 13x9x2 pan and enjoyed? I have a pretty trusty cake recipe that I plan to use (from the Whimsical Bakehouse cookbook), but have never baked it in a pan of this size and thus am a bit concerned with baking times and texture, so would love to find a recipe that is tried and true in this size pan. Keep in mind that this is for the discriminating palate of a 5 year old, meaning basic flavors are definitely best.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I've never done it so I can't offer any first-hand advice, but I can tell you that Rose Levy Berenbaum in The Cake Bible says that a 2-layer, 13X9-inch cake will serve 40 people. She's talking about wedding cake, so her portions might be smaller than they would be at a birthday party.

    1. You may find this hard to believe, but kids don't actually like birthday cake all that much. They eat the icing, and they want the theatre of it, but eat it? Not really. You can serve quite small portions - with ice cream on the side - and they'll be happy.

      They WILL eat the ice cream.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Nyleve

        I totally agree with you on this one, as I still have memories of my parents throwing away a ton of half eaten slices of cake at my birthday parties, (I of course always ate all of my cake, no matter how large the slice, because I LOVE cake). However, since I'm unsure of the numbers at this party, realize that a good number of the eaters are likely adults, and want to make a good impression on my boss, I'd prefer to err on the side of having way too much cake than even a little too little. Thanks for the advice though...will definitely take it to heart when I have kids of my own who I need to bake for!

      2. You should definitely find a recipe for the cake of the size you want. In my experience, doubling recipes or using pans of a size not recommended by the recipe can lead to trubbles (the cake could rise out of the pan, the texture will be off and cake could crumble to bits when attempting to remove from pan, etc) Try an internet search using the pan size and flavor you want. Here's the first decent-looking thing I came up w/. It's a wedding cake that feeds a million (or so) and can be made into a double-layered 13 X 9:

        Looks pretty involved, though, and Nyleve is correct. The key to a good kids' cake is in the frosting.

        1. The number of servings you get from a cake depends, in part on what other food is available at the party. If there is a lot of kid-friendly food available, then a 9 x 13 inch cake will go far. If there isn't much other food available, then hungry kids will eat more cake, even if they normally don't care for it.

          The other factor is adults. I have found that adults can pack away sizeable portions of cake, and come back for seconds, particularly if it is good cake. Homemade cakes from scratch are so much superior to boxed mixes and supermarket sheet cakes, that I always figure the cakes I bake for parties will get eaten in larger quantites than what you would normally figure for the same size commercial cake of lesser quality.

          I almost always use Cake Bible for my recipes, but I do find the serving information inconsistent. The cakes that serve 50, in the back of the book, are not proportionally larger than the ones in the front that serve 12. I think this is because RLB is assuming that at a wedding or other festive party, there is going to be a lot of other food, so people won't eat as much cake.

          Earlier this summer, I baked a birthday cake for a friend's son, who was turning 8. The hostess told me there would be about 25 children, plus adults. I figured about 50 to 60 people altogether. I baked a single vanilla layer in a rectangular pan that measured 18 x 12 x 2 inches (A half-sheet pan, in other words). This was about the equivalent of four 9-inch round layers, or twice the amount that a 9 x 13 inch pan makes. I just doubled the recipe for a double-layer vanilla cake. I had no problem baking it(I used magi-cake strips to allow the center to set before the sides got overcooked.)

          By the end of the birthday party, there wasn't much cake left. There was enough for my hostess to keep (about 6 or 7 servings), and I took about 5 servings home for my family. A cursory check of the garbage can (I admit I do this--especially when I'm providing food for a party) showed that not a lot of it went to waste.

          Here is a website that talks about pan sizes:

          Good luck!

          3 Replies
          1. re: La Dolce Vita

            Rose Levy Beranbaum would be correct on that one. I worked for a catering company at weddings, and can tell you the traditional size slice of wedding cake is much, much smaller than what I cut for myself and guests at home. It was usually an inch, maybe an inch and a half wide, and about four inches deep.

            1. re: La Dolce Vita

              This chart is helpful, but when lacking this, I would use my simple high school geometry to convert recipes for different cake pan sizes. I never had the patience of measuring out cups of water when a calculator is so quick. To wit: The area of a cake pan equals radius (half of the diameter) squared times 3.14 (pi) times height. In other words, a nine inch by two inch cake pan has a volume of 4.5 times 4.5 times 3.14 times 2 equals 127 square inches. Then, converting a recipe for a nine-inch pan to a 9 x 13 x 2 pan (234 square inches) the larger pan is 1.84 times the size of the 9 inch round. I'd probably round up to 2 and simply double the recipe, which is the same result from the chart. I spent much of my life as a pastry chef converting some 8 inch torte recipe into 5 tier wedding cakes, and found this helpful.

              1. re: La Dolce Vita

                Can you tell me which recipe(s) in the Cake Bible you prefer? I've made a few of the recipes in the book, but quite honestly have never been too impressed with any of them. I'd definitely be willing to try another recipe in the book for this cake, though, if I had heard from someone such as yourself that it was a "good" recipe, if for no other reason than I think my stand-by vanilla cake recipe will be too dense for this particular cake. Thanks!

              2. In a cooking class I took way back when we were told that cakes in 13x9x2 pans should not be sliced into layers. I think that was partially just because it can be awkward to slice. But I have done it (rebel that I am, lol), and it was fine. :)