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What is a Sheet Cake?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 16, 2024
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Sheet cakes are simple, one-layer, frosted cakes that are often prepared for celebrations that involve a dozen or more participants. This type of cake has become a popular option for birthday parties, celebrations in the workplace, and family reunions and anniversaries. Typically, cakes of this type are prepared in one of three different sizes, depending on the number of servings are needed for the event.

For smaller gatherings, the most common size of sheet cake is the quarter sheet, which is typically 8 x 12 inches (20.32 x 30.48 cm). This simple cake is rectangular in shape and will provide ample servings for 12 to 20 people. The half sheet is typically 12 x 16 inches (30.48 x 40.64 cm), and will provide 30 to 50 servings, which may be just the right amount for office gatherings. As a third option, the full sheet can be a good choice for a large gathering. Generally, it is 16 x 24 inches (40.64 x 60.96 cm) and serves 60 to 100 people. It's important to note that there are some variations in cake sizes — a quarter sheet may be 9 x 13 inches (22.86 x 33.02 cm), a half sheet 13 x 18 inches (33.02 x 45.72 cm), and a full sheet 18 x 26 inches (45.72 x 66.04 cm).

Preparing a sheet cake is not very different from baking any type of cake. Instead of using standard round cake pans and baking multiple layers, a sheet or jellyroll pan will be used to bake a single layer. The ingredients that are used in preparing the batter are also the same as with any cake recipe, but will of course involve using larger quantities. Some special handling may be required when turning the layer out of the baking pan, since the cake is larger and more likely to break.

Today, many people choose to use the services of a supermarket bakery when a large cake is needed. There are a wide range of prepared cake designs that can be quickly adapted to any occasion in a short period of time. It is also possible to order the sheet cake in advance, often making it possible to have the colors and design of the cake customized especially for the event. In some cases, bakeries will also provide a cake with two thin layers, separated by frosting, ganache, or another filling.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including DelightedCooking, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By amypollick — On Oct 15, 2011

Sheet cakes are so much easier to make than layer cakes. You don't have to worry about pouring the batter evenly into the pans, getting the air out, etc. Plus, you don't have to have a special layer cake pan. Almost any 13-by-9 baking pan will do just fine for a sheet cake. You will probably have to frost it in the pan, but unless you're doing it for a party or something, who cares? If it's just for the family, bake a sheet cake and frost that sucker in the pan! Too easy.

By comfyshoes — On Jul 12, 2010

Sunny27- That is a great idea. I love those decorative cakes but they don’t look like it could serve a lot of people. Your suggestion really allows a parent to buy the pretty cake and have a sheet cake version of the same cake to serve.

By Sunny27 — On Jul 12, 2010

anon43743- I agree with you. Those are the best cakes. What I also like to do for my children’s party is get an elaborate cake that is pretty to look at and then I get a sheet cake to share with the guests.

This way the guests get to see the beautiful cake, while still eating a different version of it.

By anon43743 — On Sep 01, 2009

Publix supermarket in my town has the best cakes. We ordered a chocolate sheet cake with fudge frosting for my mom's birthday and everyone said it was opne of the best cakes they had ever eaten.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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