How You Can Turn Layer Cake Into A Sheet Cake

Popular during the mid-20th century, sheet cakes, sometimes called sheath cakes, are making a comeback with home bakers. Simple to prepare, easy to transport, and ideal for feeding a crowd, sheet cakes are popular for birthday celebrations, office parties, potlucks, and religious observances. Traditional in the South, chocolate sheet cakes, called Texas sheet cakes or Texas funeral cakes, are topped with warm, pourable chocolate fudge icing and garnished with chopped pecans. They have become a "cultural touchstone" as important as barbecue for Texans, according to New York Times.

Christina Tosi, the baking genius behind Milk Bar, dedicates an entire chapter in her cookbook "Milk Bar: All About Cake" to the single-layer confection, writing, "Even now, while I love round, fanciful layer cakes, I still live by the approach that a sheet cake always gets the job done for a hungry crowd" (via Special Broadcast Service). Created in three sizes, home bakers commonly prepare either a quarter sheet (8" x 12") or a half sheet (12" x 16") cake due to the size of their ovens. While commercial kitchens can handle the mammoth 16" x 24" full sheet cake, serving up to 100 people.

Single-layer sheet cakes are ideal for novice baker (via Special Broadcast Service). At two inches thick, they don't require a crumb coat or fillings like round-layer cakes and offer ample surface area for decorating. Simple to do, you can convert your favorite layer cake recipes into sheet cakes without sacrificing taste or creativity. 

Sheet cakes have become a trend

While the sheet cakes of the 50s and 60s were plainly decorated, today's versions are layered with texture and messages, making them on trend for your next party. Since the cake can be served in the same pan it was baked in, they make an ideal dessert when you're on the go (via New York Times).

According to King Arthur Baking, most two or three-layer, 8" or 9" round cakes can seamlessly be converted to a 9" x 13" x 2" sheet cake. Most recipes will create six cups of batter, which is needed to fill a quarter sheet pan, feeding between 12 and 20 people. Sponge cakes, like angel food, require tall sides to climb while baking and don't play nicely as sheet cakes. They should be made according to the original recipe. 

Using your favorite recipe, prepare the cake batter and preheat the oven according to the directions. No alterations are necessary. Grease the sheet pan and add a layer of greased parchment paper to the bottom for added insurance. Sheet cakes may require a longer cooking time but should be checked for doneness when the recipe recommends. Generally, if you converted the recipe from two 8" round pans, the baking time will increase by 20% to 25% (multiplying the time by 1.2 to 1.25). If the recipe was for two 9" round pans, then increase the baking time by 30% to 40% (multiplying the time by 1.3 to 1.4).