You Need a New Leafy Pie in Your Life
The sheer variety of cakes that exist in the world is exciting, if a little overwhelming. Choosing between a butterfly-shaped cake with motors inside or a tower of three-dollar cupcakes the size of a thumbnail can make you think about your life choices.
Luckily, there are cakes that make things easy. Cakes that can feed a crowd and make a delightful exclamation mark at birthday parties, congratulations or the first day of summer. This case calls for a sheet cake! …But wait, what is a sheet cake? The one that stands, the one in the plate, or the one in the pan? Before you toss your whisk and order 200 microcakes, here are some tips for choosing the right sheet cake for your needs.
Snack sheet pie
Also found as “snack pie”, this is a lower cost version of two types of sheet pie. A snack cake, such as this one from Taste of Home , is a single layer of cake baked in a round or rectangular shape that is topped with icing or icing or served plain. This method of making cakes has always been around, and many home cooks casually refer to the rectangular shape as a sheet cake. What makes this kind of cake alluring is that it’s an invitation to everyday enjoyment; it is meant to be enjoyed whenever you feel like having a snack. Perfect for just about any casual occasion, you can whip up a 9-inch square cake for yourself on a Tuesday or an impressive full-size frying pan when hosting an event with over 40 guests. More often than not, this sheet cake is not so formal in serving; at best, it requires unceremonious icing and is served by scooping a slice straight out of the pan.
To make a snack sheet cake, first decide how many people you need to serve. An eight inch square works well for nine or 10 people. To serve a crowd of 20, you can make two pans from the first one, or use a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. For parties of 25 or more, use a half-sheet pan (or even a full pan if your oven is big enough). Keep in mind that these cakes will be thinner due to the shorter edge.
Determining how much dough you need for large tortillas can be a little tricky. For 8″, 9″, or 9 x 13″ sheet cakes, remember that one box of cake mix will give you two 9″ round layers. The Taste of Home chocolate cake recipe above makes just over 3 cups of batter and bakes in one 8-inch square layer. Based on this, about 6 cups of dough will give you two separate cakes, but you will only need 4 ½-5 cups of dough for a 9″ x 13″ Pyrex pie. For even bigger cakes , this chart from The Stay At Home Chef will point you in the right direction, and using the two-thirds rule can help when filling out forms. But keep in mind, making an appetizer cake should be a casual affair; your cake can be thick or thin, so if your recipe is a bit shy, don’t sweat it.
Layered sheet cake is a more formal choice. Always rectangular and usually ordered from the bakery, this cake usually comes in three sizes: quarter sheet, half sheet, or full sheet. Perhaps it is more popular in bakeries to refer to this type of cake as a sheet cake because they are always prepared in sheet pans and from there are cut and assembled to the appropriate size. The advantage of these cakes is that you will always end up with a tall piece with two or three layers and icing inside and out. These sheet cakes are huge masses of dessert impressive in size and provide a working canvas for decorations and cake galore.
This is a kind of cake with faces printed on it; cake decorated with plastic toys. They are usually ordered for special occasions because they take hours to make, can include many mixing bowls, require various special tools for decoration, and are designed for 15-20 people. Unlike a snack cake, it would be very unusual to make yourself a layered sheet cake as Lucky Tuesday, but I’m totally here for it.
There are two ways to get a sheet cake. The easiest but more expensive way is to call or visit the bakery that makes them and let them help you choose the size, flavor and decorations they offer. Again, this can be quite expensive, depending on the time of year (prom cakes are all the rage in May and June); you may have to place an order a month earlier.
The second way is to make your own darning. I will say this, if you need a full-leaf cake, you should order it. If you don’t already have full sheet pans and an oven that can hold them, spending money on pans will cut your budget. If that’s not a problem, pick a regular cake recipe and decide how much you need to modify it to get the right amount of batter for your pan (just like we did with snack pies). Remember that you will need at least two layers of cake and enough frosting to fill and cover it all.
Consider the occasion when deciding which sheet cake is right for you. Snack cakes are everyday cakes that are most likely to be handmade, cakes that can be worn every day. They work well in hot weather because you can skip the buttercream that melts to replace icing, powdered sugar, or nothing at all. They’re also perfect for picnics, barbecues and street parties because they stay in the dish they’re baked in, making them easy to pick up and travel without the risk of accidents. Layer cakes are a more formal way to serve a large number of people; they are more substantial and you can have multiple toppings and flavor combinations. They also provide space for intricate, eye-catching decorations to make the holiday truly special. And, hey, if the party is big enough, you can always have both.
If you’re in the mood for a summer snack right now, try my Strawberry Coconut Lime Cake. The taste is bright, tart, not too sweet, and after sprinkling with powdered sugar, it is ready to be cut into slices and transferred to the sofa. While there is no liquor in this cake (but I like where you’re heading), the lime zest adds a welcome margarita vibe to the flavor profile. It’s strawberry season now and a lot is used for this cake, but if you prefer other fruits then by all means cut them and stick them on.
Strawberry Coconut Lime Cake
- ¾ cup canola oil or other neutral oil
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ½ cup almond milk or other milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ pound strawberries, chopped
- Coconut flakes for garnish (I use Bob’s Red Mill Unsweetened Coconut).
Preheat oven to 350℉. Prepare a 13″ x 9″ baking dish by lightly oiling the inside and dusting it with flour. *Cut the strawberries in half or a quarter inch and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and eggs until smooth. Add lime zest and juice, yogurt, almond milk and vanilla extract. In a smaller bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Use a fork and stir lightly to distribute the baking powder and salt.
Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture in three additions, beating each batch of dry ingredients before adding the next. A few small lumps are normal.
Pour batter into prepared baking dish and smooth out. Place strawberry slices on top. You can arrange them decoratively or scatter them in any way, just be careful not to overload the top because they can sink to the bottom. Sprinkle the top with coconut flakes.
Bake at 350℉ for 45-50 minutes. After 30 minutes, check to see if the coconut flakes have browned. If they start to burn, take a sheet of foil slightly longer than the baking dish and cover it. Place the foil tent carefully on top of the plate. Try to avoid contact with the center of the cake. Leave it like this for the rest of the baking time.
Cool the snack cake completely. Slice and serve as is or with powdered sugar.
*Note: You can line the dish with parchment, however I do not prefer this for a snack cake. It will be cut, scooped and served out of a baking dish, which can lead to bits of parchment sticking to the slices and general weirdness.