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Aug 28, 2010 06:41 PM

Birthday cake for a large crowd?

We're planning a double birthday party for a crowd of near 40, and I'm struggling to figure out how to handle the cake.

I'm an experienced cook, but haven't baked many cakes. I'm looking for kid-friendly, crowd-pleasing cakes and am considering the Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Epicurious, Dorrie Greenspan's Celebration cake and/or a carrot cake.

So any ideas? Can I double any of the cakes? How about freezing, does that compromise the flavor/texture? I feel like I can pull of two cakes for the day, but not more than that. I know the Dob Choc Cake has tons of comments but I'm not able to sift through them all.

Thanks for any advice!

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  1. Personally, I don't suggest doubling a cake recipe, if you want to make a larger cake of the same type, I'd make the recipe twice and maybe bake it in a larger pan (as for a sheet cake, for example). Most cakes freeze well if wrapped & store properly, especially cakes like carrot.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Cherylptw

      I think that doubling or not depends upon what goes into the cake. I have made a flourless chocolate cake in a 12-inch pan instead of an 8-inch pan by multiplying the quantity of ingredients by 9/4 (which is the ratio of the squares of their diameters), and it worked out great. When baking I added a bit of time to the time it would take the 8-inch version to bake, then used a toothpick to test for done-ness.

      1. re: Cherylptw

        Given that I know nothing about baking, but am contemplating adapting regular recipes to fit a 9x13 pan, what's the risk in doubling a recipe?

        1. re: rose water

          Most "regular" recipes that call for 2 round pans can fit fine, as is, into a 9x13 pan. If you post the recipe, we can tell you if that's the case.

      2. Try the Texas sheet cake. You can easily make two--but one is enough if there are other desserts and ice cream.

        Super easy and good. I use coffee instead of water. I'd stick with a single layer cake because you can cut it into smaller pieces. It takes experience to cut a double or triple layer cake into small pieces. The double chocolate layer cake from epicurious is good and the many reviews reflect that. You can, as the directions say, make in advance and refrigerate. The Texas sheet cake is just a much easier cake to make and assemble since you don't bake a lot. I think it's okay to double some cake recipes, especially ones that are made w/ oil, but you need to make sure you have enough room in the oven to bake them both at once. Carrot cake would be perfect.

        6 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          When I think of cake I always think butter, so the mention of oil always surprises me. I tend to ignore those recipes.

          I'm sure that buttertart will point me to RLB recipes that use oil :)

          1. re: souschef

            IMO, cakes made with oil stay moister and store better, so OP if you're going to take a chance doubling a recipe that you haven't tried doing before, can I suggest using a recipe with oil and you might want to do a tester cake if you haven't tried the recipe before.

            1. re: souschef

              I think there's a trade off with the two. I find oil makes a moister cake but butter, you can't beat the taste of butter. Oil gives you a larger crumb, if you're not separating the eggs and beating the whites. I'm open to trying different ideas/methods/techniques and have made some cakes that impressed me with shortening and I'm not normally a fan of it. I also love polenta cake made with olive oil. I'll try it all.

              Oh, and yes, RLB in Heavenly Cakes has a dozen or so cakes made with oil. I havent looked at the Cake Bible in a while. But, isn't that also what chiffon cakes are typically made with?

            2. re: chowser

              Thanks, that looks very promising! I assume carrot cake can also be made a sheet cake. Any ideas for a recipe for that?

              This will be an outdoor event, so casual. I think the sheet cakes sound like the way to go.

              1. re: sljones

                Good carrot cakes are so subjective. I prefer one that is more like a cake, not as oily, and my go-to is Alton Brown's. It's baked in a 9" pan, 3" deep but you could bake it in a regular 9x13 pan. It would not be as tall but would be fine.


            3. Texas sheet cake, there are so many recipes online. You can't go wrong.
              Or make two large cakes, so everyone gets the cake they want.
              Or recently what I just had, a cake that's shaped like a wedding caked, the two bottom teirs different cake flavors; one strawberry and one lemon and the top was carrot. The lady that made it ( was done by a homecook) did an awesome job! This would be okay if the two guests of honor are willing to share the cake. I personally strive to make the brithday person happy. However, If they're kids, they usually want their own cake.

              1. For 40, I'd follow the lead of other posters and bake two 9x13-inch sheet cakes. You will have plenty to go around, and do not need to fuss with layers. You could do one Texas sheet cake and one carrot cake, so guests have a choice (or can have a wee slice of each); both are easy to make and popular, and can be done in advance, all important considerations for you given you're not an experienced cake baker.