How much cake do you need to feed people?

You are in charge of making a cake for a special event but you don’t know how much you need?  Have you ever found that you didn’t make enough?  Or maybe that you made WAY too much?  This is a question I have been asked several times and will make easier for you today.  If you have researched this on the internet you will find several different opinions on the size of cake needed and the number of servings each cake will make.  Like those, this is my opinion based on several years of making cakes.

When I first started making cakes I only made short cakes with no filling, like this:

Unless it was a sheet cake, my cakes looked short and squatty and I really didn’t like them.  I also noticed cakes this size had to be even larger because a slice of cake had to be even bigger.

Then I started stacking two cakes with filling in the middle, like this:

These were about 3-4″ (7.62 – 10.16 cm) tall, looked much better and the filling helped keep the cake layers moist.  I also tried some with 3 and 4 layers of cake with filling between each layer but I always like the two layers the best for birthday parties and other celebrations.  They transport easily and I didn’t have to worry about them falling over.

In my opinion, all wedding cakes should be 4 layers of cake with 3 layers of filling, like this:

They look great in photos and you can alternate fillings.  I have made several wedding cakes where I put cream cheese filling in two layers and raspberry or strawberry filling in one.  This not only looked really pretty but the combination of flavors worked really well together also.

With all this said, there are basically two sizes for a piece of cake . . . a party size and a wedding size.  A party size is usually larger and consists of 5-7 bites per slice.  Assuming you have a minimum of two layers of cake and one layer of filling, a piece would be approximately 1 1/2″ x 2″ (3.8 cm x 5 cm).  It’s not meant in place of a meal but I’m sure several kids would argue with you on that.  A piece of wedding cake usually consists of 3-5 bites and is meant to be just a small taste.  Again, assuming you have a minimum of two layers of cake and one layer of filling, these slices should be 1″ x 2″ (2.5 cm x 5 cm).

To make it easy, I’ve made this chart to help you with the number of party and wedding servings for each size and shape.  For a pdf version of this chart, click here.  I have also included the circumference if you are using ribbons around the base of the cake.

The chart doesn’t have every shape and size that exists but these were the most common shapes that I used over the years.  It is the first place I look when calculating how much cake I need to make.  If you are making a 2 or 3 tier cake, just add the servings for each tier to get your total servings.  If you are making a wedding cake, don’t include the top tier servings if the couple plans to keep it and eat it on their first anniversary (as is the tradition).

I hope this chart helps you for your future cakes.  If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, Happy Baking!!