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Baking With a Slightly Larger Pan Size

Asked by thedinklejohn. Answered on 22nd February 2012

Full question

Hi, I have a question about baking. I love your baking recipes, and have followed many to make cakes, pies, cookies, scones, etc. However I only own two 9-inch round pans with which to cook. Occasionally, you will call for an 8-inch pan which would allow the finished product to have a bit more height. I've not run into any problems using 9-inch pans, but, the cakes do sometimes look flatter and a bit less glorious than the finished photo in your many cookbooks. I realize that not all cakes would function in the way I am about to ask this question, and while I could easily purchase 8 inch rounds, I've been lazy, and not done so yet. If I wanted to add some height to the finished product, is there a general rule of thumb for upping the ingredients to create the desired effect. Again, since baking does call for a modicum of precision, would altering deter the final process? I was curious if you had any advice so that I don't have a flat cake. No one is complaining, and since I'm only cooking for my partner, family, and friends, I've yet to have someone say, that two tier cake looks a little short. Any suggestions? Or should I succumb to the purchase of two 8-inch rounds.

Our answer

Unfortunately scaling cake recipes is not straightforward and this is one of the reasons we can't give scaled up recipes or guidelines, unless it is a fairly straightforward switch from one type of pan to another. Also in the UK a 20cm/8-inch pan size is most common whereas in the US a 23cm/9-inch cake pan is probably the most common (as many boxed cake mixes are for 9-inch cakes). However it is fairly easy to find 8-inch round pans in the US (Wilton do a good selection) so it is worth purchasing the smaller size at some point.

If you want to increase the height of a layer cake the other alternative would be to add an extra layer. With only 2 pans you would need to bake one full recipe of batter, baking it in the two pans as normal, then make a half quantity of the recipe and bake one more layer (making sure the pan is fully cool and is washed before re-using it). You would need to allow for some extra frosting too and we would suggest making 1 1/2 times the frosting quantity to make sure you have enough.

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