Once you’ve decided what size of tiers you need to make, it’s time to figure out how much cake batter you need per pan.
There are a couple different ways to do this. This first is a simple calculation with cups. I include a chart below showing how many cups of batter you need to make different sized cake layers.
However, you need to know exactly how many cups one batch of the cake recipe you plan to use makes. This can vary drastically recipe to recipe.
The second method is a bit more math intensive, but I actually prefer it! I think it’s more precise, and less messy 🙂
Method 1: The Cup Method
If you don’t want to do any calculations, this method if for you! It will quickly give you the answer you need.
In the below table, I share how many cups of batter you need per pan. It’s based on pan size and shape. My one caveat is that certain recipes rise more than others.
My vanilla layer cake recipe rises less than sponge cake recipes, so I’ve also included a column with the calculations for it as well.
Based on the recipe you use, you may want to use slightly more or less batter to make your cake layers the perfect height (once baked and leveled). This is why it’s important to test a recipe before making a large tiered cake.
Testing a recipe in advance helps you know the rise of the batter, so you can adjust as needed.
I’ve included the amount of batter you need for a 1-inch cake layer, or a 2-inch cake layer. Traditional wedding cakes are made with two, 2-inch cake layers.
However, I like to make my tiered cakes with three, 1-inch cake layers. I also add a very generous amount of buttercream between each cake layer (about 1/4 of an inch). This makes my tiers the perfect wedding cake height (4 inches tall).
The height of my tiers can vary though! The amount of frosting I use, how many cake layers I use, and how I level my cake layers all affect the height of each tier.
While a standard wedding cake serving is 4 inches tall, sometimes I make my tiers taller based on the the look I’m after for a cake. I also vary the height based on what the bride and groom request.
My Cake Batter Calculator
One batch of my vanilla cake recipe makes about 10 1/2 cups of batter. If I wanted to make a round cake with four, 7-inch cake layers, I would need about 1 batch of cake batter (2 1/2 cups per 7-inch layer, x 4 layers = 10 cups of batter)
I highly recommend testing out a cake recipe ahead of time, to know how many cups of batter it makes, and how high it rises as it bakes.
You also need to account for the finished height of your cake layers once they’re leveled.
If you’d like to learn more about serving sizes for weddings and parties, I highly recommend checking out my cake portion guide.
It walks through how many people different tiered cakes feed, and what size of cake you should make for big events.
Method 2: The Calculation Method
Now for the nerdier, more precise method. You can use math to figure out how much batter you need per pan!!
To do this, you need to know two important bits of information. The first is knowing how much batter 1 batch of the recipe you plan to use makes.
The second thing you need to know is the equation of a circle! Get ready to relive traumatic memories from high school geometry 😛
Using A Recipe You Know
If you have a tried and true cake recipe that you know and love, you can use what you already know about the cake recipe to figure this out!
When I bake a batch of either recipe, they both make four, seven-inch cake layers that are roughly 1-inch tall (once leveled).
I can back my way into the amount of batter one batch makes by knowing this!
The Equation Of A Cake Pan
This is where math comes into play. It’s nothing crazy. It really just uses the equation of a circle, which is Pi (3.14) x radius squared. In this example with my vanilla cake recipe, I would first calculate the volume of one cake layer.
I’d take 3.14 (Pi) and multiple it by 3.5in x 3.5in (the radius of the cake layer squared). This would give me 38.5 inches squared.
I know that my 7-inch cake layers are about 1 is inch tall one they’re baked and leveled. With that in mind, the volume of the a single cake layer would be 38.5 inches squared x 1 inch, or 38.5 inches cubed.
Since one batch of batter makes four cake layers, that means it makes about 154 cubic inches of batter (38.5 cubic inches x 4 cake layers). With this number, I can now calculate the number of batches needed to make for any size of tiered cake.
Example – Calculation For A Three Tiered Cake
Say I wanted to make a tiered cake with 12 inch, 9 inch, and 6 inch cake layers. Each tier would be made with 3 cake layers that are 1 inch tall. I would make the below calculations:
- General Formula for any sized tier: Pi (3.14) x cake layer radius squared x cake layer height x number of cake layers
- 12 inch tier: 3.14 x (6 in. x 6 in.) x 1 in. x 3 layers= 339 cubic inches
- 9 inch tier: 3.14 x (4.5 in. x 4.5 in.) x 1 in. x 3 layers = 191 cubic inches
- 6 inch tier: 3.14 x (3 in. x 3 in.) x 1 in.x 3 layers = 85 cubic inches
This means in total, I will need 615 cubic inches of batter (339+191+85). Since I know one batch makes about 154 cubic inches, I will need to make 4 batches of batter.
Let Me Know Your Thoughts!!
I hope this helps you know how many batches of batter you need to make for tiered cakes!!
For those of you who just want to know how much batter you need for different sized pans, I hope you find this helpful too.
Let me know your thoughts, whether you use my cake batter calculator chart, or whip out your calculator!! 🙂