What size cake do you need? More often than not, this will depend upon the servings you need or the guest count. I laugh when someone tells me they want a 3 tier cake. I offer 3 tier cakes that serve from 55-200! Often times, people will ask "what size is this cake?" It's almost impossible to know what someone else used. More importantly, it doesn't matter what someone else used. What will you use to get the look and servings you want?!
Can you tell what size these are?
They are very similar. While they both have a 5" top, the cake on the left serves 75 and the cake on the right serves 65. Angles, decor, and so much more impact how a cake looks.
These cakes are exactly the same size.
Now lets have some fun! What size do you think these are?
What about this one? It's truly an optical illusion
This cake is actually 7 tiers tall.
When I choose a size, I start with servings and check the standard sizes
This chart was created using a 8 cubic inch serving size. The tiers are 4" tall. I personally use 4-1" layers to achieve that height.
If I am creating a design that will look best on a wider cake, I'll chose a size with 3 inches between tiers like the 5, 8, 11 that serves 75. For a thinner look, I'll chose one with 2 inches between tiers like the 6, 8, 10 that serves 65.
But what if I want varied tier heights? How do I calculate?
These cakes were created using a 5 x 3, 7 x 4, & 9 x 5 tiers. It serves 53. I'll start with the 5" cake. According to our chart, I know the 5" cake serves 9. I divide the servings by 4 inches or 4 layers to see that one layer of the 5" cake serves 2.25 (9 servings/4 inches = 2.25). No one is eating .25 servings, so I round down. I have 3 layers or 3" so I now multiply the 2 servings per inch by 3 to see the 5 x 3 cake serves 6.
The 7 x 4 is exactly like the chart says serving 17.
The bottom tier is a 9 x 5. I see the 9" serves 27. 27/4=6.75
I'll multiply the 6 servings per inch by the 5 inches I plan to use to see it will serve 30
(6 x 5 = 30).
Now, I add all the tiers 6 + 17 + 30 = 53
I promise the more you play with tier heights and sizes the more confident you will become.
It's also important to think about any toppers or other elements that will be on the cake. Think about how this cake would look with a smaller tier or a short tier. The key is to keep everything proportionate.
I personally prefer to use either a 5" or 6" for most top tiers. The larger 8" tier can be tricky and make for a short wide look. Sometimes, that's good!
Both of the cakes are 8 x 5, 10 x 4, & 12 x 5.
Before you know it, you'll be making all kinds of shapes and tier heights!