For a casual family gathering with a classic 9″ round cake, you can usually just slice the cake simply and enjoy. However when you are planning for a larger event and ordering a cake (or baking it yourself), you will want to make sure that you have enough servings for the people attending. Having this information in advance can help you make ordering decisions, and make sure you don’t find yourself out of cake mid-event because your slices are too large.
Wedding & Party Servings
Typically wedding servings are small, often a very thin slice for each guest to have a little taste. This could be because the couple has another dessert planned in addition to the cake, or because they expect the cake to be more of a showpiece than actual dessert. This graphic shows you how many servings you can expect from your 3 tiered cake for a wedding with cake as your only dessert, or a reception offering other choices. Another factor to consider in your serving sizes is how large the meal is at your reception. Do you have an appetizer, salad, entree and then the cake, or are you offering lighter fare? Are guests gathering at an open bar prior to the meal, or is alcohol less plentiful? Answers to these questions can help you know which direction to go for your cake slices. When I price a wedding cake by the slice, I charge to the middle end of the wedding serving chart, thus considering a 6″, 9″, 12″ to serve about 100 people.
Slicing the Cake
There are many ways you can tackle the cake cutting process. I usually prefer to use concentric circles. For this method, you may start by making a small inner circle. Cut through the entire cake with a serrated knife. Then, you’ll make another concentric circle out from the small inner circle. In this 12″ cake, I have a mini circle in the center cut, followed by a 9″ circle. Once you’ve cut your inner circles, cut your slices out from the exterior of the cake as shown in the grid below. After that outside edge of slices are plated, you will have a 6″ cake remaining. Slice those pieces, and then you may serve the middle circle, or simply save or eat yourself.
When you slice the cake, make sure to have a clean knife and some paper towels available. You may find it helpful to wipe the knife off every 3 or four times you cut through the cake. This will keep your slices looking elegant for the guests.
There are many ways to cut a cake. If you are working with a caterer at a banquet hall, or a wedding coordinator, you will not have to think about this aspect of your event. The people in this industry are experts. However, if you have a friend or family member serving cake for your wedding, you will want to select a cutting plan that works for you. The image below shows how you’d cut the tiered cakes, and I’ve also included links to detailed diagrams if you are responsible for cutting the cake.