How to Use One Cake Pan For Any Baking Recipe (2024)

Award-winning cookbook author Alice Medrich is here to help you bake smarter, not harder, with game-changing recipes and aha-moment techniques. Today, we're breaking down a question we've asked ourselves, oh, a million times: How do we adapt cake pan sizes in baking recipes? (Say, something calls for a 8x8-inch, but you only have an 9x9.) Alice will show you with just a little math.

Thebrownie recipeyou want to make calls for an 8-inch square pan, but your only square pan is a 9-inch. Should you risk it? Maybe you want to double or triple a recipe but you aren’t sure which pan to use, or maybe you have a specific large pan but don’t know how many times to multiply your recipe in order to fill it.

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How do you adapt different cake pan sizes for different recipes?

The answers to these and similar questions (asked endlessly in cooking classes!) do not involve rocket science, but just enough elementary school math to calculate the area of a square, rectangle, or circle. I love the math (and I’ve included a little math reviewbelow if you want to brush up), but I’m sharing my chart in case you don’t have my thing for math.

Thehandylistbelow (or some basic math, also explained below) will tell youthe surface area of your pan. Once you know the area of any pan, you can compare it to the area of another pan to see how much bigger or smaller it is. You can divide the area of a large pan by the area of a small pan to figure out how many times to multiply a recipe to fill the larger pan with the same depth of batter (more on that later).

Handy list(with the numbers rounded up to the nearest inch):

Area of square/rectanglepans:

  • 6 x 6 = 36 square inches
  • 7 x 7 = 49 square inches
  • 8 x 8 = 64 square inches
  • 9 x 9 = 81 square inches
  • 9 x 13 = 117 square inches
  • 12 x 16 (half-sheet pan) = 192 square inches

Area of round pans:

  • 5 inch = 20 square inches
  • 6 inch = 29 square inches
  • 7 inch = 39 square inches
  • 8 inch = 50 square inches
  • 9 inch = 64 square inches
  • 10 inch = 79 square inches
  • 12 inch = 113 square inches

Geometry review:

I don’t always have the chart at hand; I often just do the math!

For squares and rectangles: The area of a square or rectangular pan is calculated by multiplying one side times the other side. The area of an 8-inch square is 64 square inches because 8 x 8 = 64; the area of a 9 x 13-inch pan is 117 square inches because 9 x 13 = 117. Easy.

For rounds: The area of a circle equals π times the radius squared. In case you don’t remember, π = 3.14; the radius of a circle is half of its diameter; and squaring means multiplying a number by itself. Ready? To calculate the area of an 8-inch round pan, multiply 3.14 (π) by4 (because it’s half of 8) times 4. Thus, the area of an 8-inch circle is 3.14 x 4 x 4, approximately 50 square inches. Not so hard!

Just by glancing at the two pans, you might think that a 9-inch pan is very close in size to an 8-inch pan of the same shape, thus making it a reasonable substitute. But if you check the chart, you’ll find that a 9-inch square pan is more than 25% larger than an 8-inch square pan. (The relationship between a 9-inch and 8-inch round pan is similar.) Such a considerable difference will result in a 9-inch batch of very thin brownies that may be over-baked by the time you check them for doneness (because thin brownies bake faster than thick ones). Knowing this beforehand, you canincrease the recipe by 25% for results as thick than the original recipe intended. If you want brownies that are even a tad thicker than the original recipe,you can even increase the recipe by 33%.

Let's tryan example: How many times should you multiply an 8-inch brownie recipe to fill a 9- x13-inch pan or a 12- x 16-inch half sheet?To figure this out, divide the area of the larger pan by the area of the 8-inch pan.

  • For the 9- x13-inch pan: 117 divided by 64 = 1.82, which is close enough to 2 that you can confidently double the recipe for the larger pan.
  • For the half sheet: 192 divided by 64 is exactly 3, so you can multiply the recipe times 3.

Using similar math, you can calculate how many times to multiply the recipe for a round cake to make a large rectangular sheet cake. And don’t forget that you don’t always have to multiply recipesby whole numbers—it’s perfectly fine to multiply a recipe by1 1/2 or 2 2/3.

About now, you might be wondering about eggs. It’s nice if you can increase recipes so that you don’t have to deal with fractions of eggs—by increasing a 2-egg batter by 1 1/2 or a 3-egg batter by 1/3 or 2/3, for example—but it is not essential.

Here’s what to do if you multiply a recipe and end up needing part of an egg:Set aside any whole eggs you need. Next,whisk the other egg to blend the white and yolk; weigh it (preferably in grams); then weigh out the fraction of the egg that you need fortherecipe and add that to thewhole eggs. If you need 40% of a 50-gram egg, that’s 20 grams of the whisked egg. When egg whites and yolks are used separately, weigh and measure them in the same way, but separately. Add leftover egg parts to your morning scramble. See, no waste and still no rocket science!

The chart (or your ability to do the math) is extremely valuable: Use it but don’t be a slave to it. When I make brownies in a large quantity, I like them to be about the same thickness as they are in a small batch, so I stay close to the chart. But, when I increase the dimensions of a birthday cake, I often make it a bit taller than the original (in other words, I round up when multiplying) because the proportions are visually more pleasing. For example, if I am making a 12-inch round cake using a recipe meant for an 8-inch pan, I divide the area of the 12-inch round pan (113) by the area of the 8-inch round (50 inches) and get 2.26. But instead of multiplying the recipe by just 2.26, I might multiply it by 3 so that the cake will turn out tall and lofty. See: Love the chart, but don’t let it bully you!

When you round things up like that, don’t go overboard: Pans should not be filled more than about 2/3 full or batter may overflow. If you do end up with too much batter, scrape the excess into cupcake molds or a mini cake pan—bonus cakes never go uneaten!

When you increase recipes and bake in larger pans, you should anticipate longer baking—anywhere from a little longer if the pans are filled to the same level as the original recipe to considerably longer if you are making the cake taller by filling the pan a bit more. If you are making a smaller amount of the recipe, check earlier than you think you need. And always use a cake testerto check to see if the cake is finished.

Here are 10 baking recipes to put your newfound knowledge to good use:

1. Triple-Chocolate Olive Oil Brownies

Bittersweet chocolate, chocolate syrup, and Dutch-process cocoa powder make these brownies as chocolatey as can be. We love the olive oil's grassy flavor, but feel free to swap in canola if you're not a fan.

2. Cook's Illustrated's Blondies

Meet the blondie recipe that will ruin you for all others. Don't say we didn't warn you! Made with melted butter, they're just as gooey and fudgy as a blondie should be.

3. Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

"Bake this peanut butter sheet cake for birthday parties, celebrations, or just because," writes recipe developer EmilyC. "It's so easy to assemble, feeds a crowd, and will put a smile on everyone's face."

4. Magic Cookie Bars

When we say magic, we mean it. These classic cookie bars include graham cracker crumbs, sweetened condensed milk, semisweet chocolate chips, toasted nuts, shredded coconut, and coconut flakes. Oh, and butter, because of course.

5. Lemon Bars With a Salty Olive Oil Crust

While most lemon bar crusts are butter-based, like a classic shortbread, this one opts for a modern upgrade: olive oil instead. A generous pinch of salt brings out the olive oil's savoriness in a way the lemons really love. Serve extra-cold with confectioners' sugar dusted on top.

Additional ideas from the editors:

6. Minnie Utsey's No-Fail Cornbread

This recipe is exactly as its name promises: no-fail. For that reason, I come back to it time and time again anytime a cornbread craving hits. Scale it up or down as needed, but I guarantee there will be none left over.

How to Use One Cake Pan For Any Baking Recipe (10)

7. Mochi Banana Bread

"What happens to classic banana bread when you swap in sweet rice flour?" asks recipe developer Joy Cho. "The result is neither wholly mochi nor traditional banana bread—it’s a lovely in-between, decidedly familiar with a fun textural twist." Glutinous rice flour brings mochi’s signature chewy texture to the world of banana bread. Even better: it requires only about half the time in the oven as a typical banana bread would.

How to Use One Cake Pan For Any Baking Recipe (11)

8. Powdered Donut Cake

This brilliant dessert mashup comes from Snacking Cakes (the book, but also the concept)queen, Yossy Arefi. It’s light and fluffy with all the powdered sugar goodness of your favorite childhood donut holes. The best part? Arefi encourages experimentation and even provides suggested measurements for various pan sizes.

How to Use One Cake Pan For Any Baking Recipe (12)

9. Madeira Cake

This simple European cake is so much more delicious than the sum of its parts. Light sponge flavored with just a hint of citrus, this cake is the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea, or even fortified wine (just like its name implies!)

How to Use One Cake Pan For Any Baking Recipe (13)

For the chocolate-peanut butter lovers in your life. This may just be their dream birthday cake, and now you can easily scale it to accommodate any number of guests.

How to Use One Cake Pan For Any Baking Recipe (14)

This article was originally published in June 2015. We refreshed it for this summer, because we're very, very excited about our summer dessert to-do list. What are your tricks for adapting recipes to different pan sizes? Tell us in the comments!

How to Use One Cake Pan For Any Baking Recipe (2024)


Can I bake a cake in one pan? ›

There are so many great cake recipes out there that can be adjusted to fit a sheet pan. Multiply any 9 x 13 inch cake recipe by 1.5 and it will fit a sheet pan exactly, or just search for Texas sheet cake recipes, which are usually sized for a half sheet pan.

Can I use 1 cake tin instead of 2? ›

I wish I saw this earlier but I guess this can help anyone that may come across this, but you can bake it in the same pan, just make sure to but a boundary of baking paper around the inner perimeter of the pan in case it bakes taller than the height, and then bake it at a lower temperature so it doesn't burn before it ...

What is a 9x13 pan equivalent to? ›

An 8” square pan and 9” round pan can be used interchangeably for cake and bar recipes. A recipe written for a 9” x 13” pan can also be made in two 9” round pans; one 9” round and one 8” round, or two 8” round pans. Baking times may vary due to slightly different depths of batter in the various pan combinations.

How do you adjust cooking time for different size cake pans? ›

If, for example, your recipe calls for an 8-inch cake pan and you only have a 9-inch, relax, no problem. Just increase the oven temp by 25 degrees F and decrease the bake time by a quarter.

Does one cake box make 2 round cakes? ›

One box of cake mix typically yields enough batter for 2 layers in a standard 8-inch round cake pan or 1 layer in a 9x13 inch sheet cake pan.

What to do when you only have one cake tin? ›

Make all the batter at once, decant by thirds into your one cake pan and bake just as you said. Keep the batter at room temperature as much as you can. If you have to put the batter in the fridge, take it out with enough time to warm up before pouring it out again.

How do you adjust the baking time on a smaller cake tin? ›

It is hard to tell how much you will need to adjust the time by as this will depend on the size difference but for a larger pan start checking 10-15 minutes prior to the stated time, and for a smaller pan add time in 5-minute increments until it is baked.

How do you adjust the baking time on a small cake? ›

If you're moving the recipe to a smaller pan and the batter seems too deep, bake low and slow: lower the oven temperature by 25 degrees F and increase the baking time. You may notice a slightly coarser texture in some cakes.

Can you put two cake mixes in one pan? ›

If you are talking about having 2 different flavor cakes in one cake it is pretty simple. Bake both cakes as you normally would and cut a little off the top of the cake that is going to be on the bottom. Then put some frosting on that cake and put your other cake on top of it.

Do you increase baking time for two cakes? ›

Yes, when baking two cakes at once, you may need to increase the baking time slightly. However, the increase in time might not be significant; usually, it's just a few minutes more than the recommended time for baking a single cake. Keep an eye on both cakes and check for doneness using a toothpick or cake tester.

How long can cake batter sit before baking? ›

It's best to bake cake batter immediately once it's mixed, but it can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for a couple days, then baked. Depending on the ingredients though, the cake may not rise as much as it would had it been baked immediately.

Is 9x13 same as 2 8x8? ›

For a rectangle, simply take the measurements of the long side and the short side of a rectangular one and multiply them, i.e. 9x13=117 square inches. From this you can see that you can substitute two 8” pans for the 9”x13” one as 2x64 = 128 square inches which is close enough.

Is 8x8 pan same as 9x13? ›

The area of a 8x8 pan on the other hand, is 64 square inches, or close to half that of a 9x13 pan. This means you can scale a recipe down from a 9x13 pan to an 8x8 pan by simply halving the recipe. Conversely, to go from a 8x8 pan to a 9x13 pan, you double the recipe.

What can you use instead of a cake pan? ›

Make a sheet pan

The ideal sheet pan for making a cake would be flat and have sides that are at least 1 inch high. As long as the height of the sheet pan is at least i inch, the rest of the dimensions don't matter, if you have a smaller or larger pan, you'll just have a smaller or larger result!

Can you bake a regular cake in a springform pan? ›

Springform pans can be used in place of regular cake pans and allow you to bake some fun specialty items. The detachable base and outer ring make removing your cake from the pan a simple process. By preparing your pan and baking properly, you will be able to bake a variety of cakes with ease.

How do you make a cake without a cake pan? ›

Make a sheet pan

The ideal sheet pan for making a cake would be flat and have sides that are at least 1 inch high. As long as the height of the sheet pan is at least i inch, the rest of the dimensions don't matter, if you have a smaller or larger pan, you'll just have a smaller or larger result!

Do smaller cake pans take longer to bake? ›

Cakes in larger pans will generally bake faster (about . 9 minutes per ounce of batter in a 10-inch pan), while cakes in smaller pans will often take longer (up to two minutes per ounce for a 6-inch pan). Meanwhile, cakes baked in a tube or Bundt pan may only need a minute per ounce of batter.

Can I put 3 cake pans in the oven at the same time? ›

If you need to cook three cakes at a time, place two on the bottom rack, spaced apart, and one on the rack above and in between the other two. Move the cakes twice during cooking so that each cake spends an equal amount of time in each position. TOP = PALE Cakes stacked above each other disrupt heat flow in the oven.

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