The problem with preparing or ordering a sheet cake is the confusion that seems to surround the actual cake sheet sizes. This is one of the first queries amateur bakers make when attempting to bake these usually rectangular creations and often the answer is different depending on who asks the question.
Standard Cake Sheet Sizes
A sheet cake is a convenient, fast method to create a perfect size cake to feed a large number of people. These cakes are made in a variety of pans usually constructed from aluminum or stainless steel. Commercial sheet pans in professional kitchens typically have a one inch raised lip around the edge, and come in the following sizes:
- Quarter sheet cake which is 9 by 12 inches or 9 by 13 inches
- Half sheet cake which is 11 by 15 inches
- Full sheet cake which is 18 by 24 inches
Home bakers usually have to combine several quarter sheets if preparing a substantial cake because standard full sheets will not fit in a home oven. This is one the reasons other cake sheet sizes were created and where most of the dimension confusion ensued.
Uses for the Standard Sizes
Deciding which sheet cake size suits your occasion best can be challenging and once you have established the number of people attending you must look carefully at how many servings you require to satisfy the guests. Several factors affect the how you determine how many people a sheet cake feeds. Generally the following guidelines can apply when choosing a sheet cake size:
- Quarter Sheet Cake: This cake serves 12 to 20 people and is perfect as a finale for a neighborhood block party, a child's party or small office celebration. Most home chefs can handle this size easily and have no problem creating double and even triple layers to delight their guests.
- Half Sheet Cake: This cake serves 18 to 40 people and is the treat you will see when attending a store launch at your local grocery store or a fancy party for a couple reaching their 25th year of marriage. The surface provides a large area for decoration and writing a more detailed message. These cakes are substantial but still light enough to handle with a little care and planning.
- Full Sheet Cake: Approximately 48 to 96 people are easily served with this spectacular confection. Multiple layered full sheets are quite challenging to manipulate without a great deal of room, a calibrated oven that creates even layers, and a game plan to store and transport the finished product. These cakes are perfect for grand occasions requiring company logos or extravagant embellishments of icing and spun sugar.
Tips for Successful Sheet Cakes
- A convenient option for making a sheet cake for a more casual get together like a block party or family event is baking a Texas sheet cake. Serve these versatile cakes in the pan you bake them and apply frosting on the visible top. Some quarter sheet pans are actually designed with convenient plastic lids that snap right onto the pan.
- Try creating double layer sheet cakes using professional techniques which involve baking two thinner cakes and stacking them with luscious icing instead of trying to torte (slice horizontally and fill) a thicker single cake.
- Sheet cakes are prone to dryness because they are thinner than standard round cakes and susceptible to breakage due to their size. Take steps to prevent these issues. Always prepare your sheet pans with cooking spray and a piece of parchment on the bottom to stop the cake from sticking. When baking, check frequently to see if the cake is finished, especially if it is a new recipe or you have never baked a larger cake before.
- Sheet cakes are easier to put together if they are placed in the freezer or fridge wrapped in plastic before trying to stack or torte them.