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Cake pan sizes

32 posts in this topic

I'm reviving this thread because I was buying some new pans to bake a wedding cake and was recommended Magic Line by the store and took (all loose bottomed) a 6x3, 12x3 and 2 9x2's because as the most commonly-used pan size in recipes (as an earlier poster mentioned) I just thought it would come in more useful than a 9x3.

I baked RLB's All -Occasion Downy Yellow Butter cake in the 9x2's today and I can officially say I'm in LOVE with these pans... no wrapping needed, the cakes came out wonderfully level.

On researching more about these pans, I happened across this thread and am interested in the comments about 3" vs 2". I once asked RLB about baking the above cake in a single higher pan vs the 2 lower pans and she recommended against it because it would affect the texture of the cake. The higher pan would require more leavener to help it rise in the higher pan. The other thing she says in her Cake Bible is that if the pan is too high for the batter, the sides of the pan may shield the batter from cooking properly.

I don't know if anyone has found this to be the case. It would be interesting to know.

Asking cos I'm thinking of getting an 8" and possibly 7" pan... and need to decide between 2 2" high pans in each instance, or one 3" high.

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Well I can tell you that I go by the batter requirement charts that Wilton provides, even though they were designed for cake mixes when following cake mix box instructions. But I use it as a start off point and adjust from there. No two cake batters rise the same amount and you cannot do this for all recipes nor for all cake pans.

I can tell you that using cake mixes, you can take the amount called for, for a 2 inch deep pan and place that same amount into a 3 inch deep pan and instead of getting a 2 inch deep cake, you will get closer to a 2.5 inch high cake. I do not find there is a difference in the texture or outcome of these cakes. Also, with some from-scratch cake recipes I make, I get the same results. So that tells us that sometimes when batter has more room to expand, it creates more volume in a larger pan. Is this always the case? No. It will depend on that particular batter.

Where going by batter requirement charts might get you into trouble is with bundt or angel food tube pans. If you go by volume and try to fill these pans 2/3 full with a batter that is not meant for these pans, you may find yourself with a huge mess in your oven. These pans don't always work with batter requirements or based on volume. For example, if you were to measure the full volume a 10x4 inch high angel food tube pan can hold, you would measure 16 cups. Now if you then used 2/3 of that amount to fill your pan 2/3 full, you would use 10 2/3 cups of batter but that will not work in most cases. In most cases these pans will take about 5-6 cups of most batters to rise to the top.

Some cakes are very delicate in nature, with some cakes, you do not grease the pan so that the cake can support itself on the rise, against the sides of the pan. In some cases you use a tube or bundt pan, so that in addition to the centre baking evenly, again the cake can support itself on the rise against that centre tube. So there really is no one set rule that applies to all cakes. You need to exercise caution with chiffon cakes, cheesecakes and some others. As Rose has told you, you can affect the texture by not using the right sized pan in some cases with some recipes.

Some from-scratch butter cakes do not rise a great deal, others do. So you really need to know how your batter normally functions and understand if the pans called for, are called for with good reason.

I can tell you that I do make butter cake recipes designed for 2 inch pans, in 3 inch pans and most times, once I increase the recipe to make the Wilton batter requirements for the 3 inch pans, I have good results. Sometimes to get the cake to rise the full 3 inches, I may need about 1 cup more batter than stated, other times it is fine. The risk with 3 inch deep pans is most people overfill them and they are a bit more difficult to bake in so overfilled you may overbake the outside before the middle is done. But that can usually be accomodated by lower the temperature by 25F for the larger pans.

Sarah Phillips from Baking911.com also cautions that with doubling or tripling some recipes, you cannot automatically increase the amount of baking soda called for without sometimes affecting the taste or outcome. Sometimes you have to make adjustments for leaveners.

Just my opinion based on my experience and knowledge.

Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

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Thanks Squirrelly Cakes. For the most part I will probably be wanting to either bake the full batch of batter in the 3" high pan, or, where I'm doing layers (if I don't want to torte or if I just want to make 2 separate cakes) to use the same amount of batter in the 3" pan as would have gone into the 2" pan.

It sounds from your experience that I should (most times) be able to use the 3" pan for 2" pan batter (or for the sake of argument, even less) with no problem of the higher sides shielding the cake from cooking. I assume RLB might have been referring more to the top of the cake browning.

In other words for the 8" pans, I could buy one 2" and one 3" and just use those for baking 2 layers where necessary?

Is there an instance where you'd say: ok, the 3" pan is definitely too high for this amount of batter, so it will throw off your results?

Can I also assume that when using convection mode, this should not be a problem anyway?

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Hi again,

Haha, well kiddo I am not a big fan of baking cakes on convection so I don't know the effect on that method. I just haven't liked the results that I get in my convection oven. I won't use two shelves of any oven to bake cakes. I find that I never get the same results. I don't have a commercial convection oven so I am just basing this on a domestic oven.

I think Rose may be referring to the results from certain kinds of cakes where the cake is more sensitive. I find genoise and many spongecakes or cheesecakes can be sensitive to the pan they are baked in. Perhaps some tortes would do better in the more shallow pans but I find most tortes do better in the 1 1/2 inch deep pans anyway.

I have never tried to bake cakes with the hopes of getting the same results, using one 3 inch and one 2 inch pan. It would be really difficult to gauge how much batter to place in the 3 inch pan to equate the height of a two inch high pan because that is going to vary according to the recipe.

In standard cakes like carrot, chocolate, yellow, butter cakes, lemon cakes etc., I don't find my results as far as browning or texture adversely affected at all. I used to rent cake pans from a local bakery and on their advice, I purchased the 3 inch deep pans. I get a nicely rounded crown that doesn't require much levelling and that is actually a plus for a decorator. And I don't use flower nails, heating cores or Bake Even strips in any size of cake pan. I find if the pans are of a good weight and quality and finish, I don't need any of those things.

It would be ideal to have both 2 and 3 inch pans and pairs of each size in each shape. But many people don't have the space or cannot afford the costs.

Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

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Great point about it being challenging to guage amount of batter in 2 different sized pans... didn't think of that. That's why I'm here asking irritating questions! Hmm ok, going to have to think this through again. Good thing I'm not in a hurry for the 8" pans.

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I have never tried to bake cakes with the hopes of getting the same results, using one 3 inch and one 2 inch pan.  It would be really difficult to gauge how much batter to place in the 3 inch pan to equate the height of a two inch high pan because that is going to vary according to the recipe. 


Why wouldn't you be able to just divide the batter evenly between the two pans by weight (assuming that you would be using 2 2" pans if you had them rather than one being a 3" pan). When making 10 - 20 cake rounds, I just pour the batter into all the pans then double check that they are all the same based on weight, give or take a margin of error for that many pans.

Granted, if you have a batter that likes to climb the pan walls, given equal amounts of batter in both pans but not so much that the 2" is going to overflow, they may come out slightly different in height, but only if the batter in the 2" pan has run out of room to climb.

Cheryl, The Sweet Side

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Well, because if you take the same amount of some types of batter, called for in a 2 inch deep pan following the Wilton charts for batter amounts as a guideline, place that amount of batter in say, a 2 inch high 10 inch pan and a 3 inch high 10 inch pan you often get varied results.

What you may end up with in many cases is a 2 1/2 inch high cake in the 3 inch pan and a 2 inch high cake in the 2 inch pan even though you placed the same amount of batter in both pans. And that is because with many cakes, given the room to expand more, they will create more volume and a higher cake in a higher sided cake pan.

So if she weights the batter, in many cases, that same amount of batter will still rise higher in the deeper pan than it will in the more shallow 2 inch cake pan. So 1/2 inch height difference between the two layers of one cake is quite noticeable.

This is consistently true with cake mixes and often also the case with regular from-scratch cakes like some white and butter cakes, chocolate cakes and some carrot cakes, along with many other recipes from my own personal experience.

Hugs Squirrelly Cakes

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