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Converting 8" cake recipes to fit 4.5" cake pans?

I have several favorite cake recipes that come in 8" cake sizes and would love to make them in 4.5" pans for transport convenience and portion control. ("Just one slice" is very different on a 8 or 10" cake compared to a 4.5"!)
Does anyone have experience in such a conversion, both for batter quantity and baking time/temperature?
Thanks so much!

asked by PW over 3 years ago
3 answers 4643 views
8425a5f0 773c 4ccd b24e 9e75b44477a8  monita photo

Monita is a Recipe Tester for Food52

added over 3 years ago

An 8" round cake pan that is 2" high hold 6 cups of batter. A 5x2" cake pan hold 2+ 2/3 cups batter. So your 4.5 probably hold about 2 cups. So with a recipe that calls for an 8" cake pan you'd be able to make 3 of your 4.5 cake pans. On the baking time - check your cakes at the half point time of a regular size cake.

23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added over 3 years ago

Using my almost but not quite forgotten junior high school math skills, it seems that a 4.5 inch pan has a surface area that is about 35% of that of an 8 inch pan, so Monita's estimate that you'd use about 1/3 of the batter for each small cake is pretty close.

Bac35f8c 0352 46fe 95e3 57de4b652617  p1291120
added over 3 years ago

Both of the above answers assume the same thickness for your batter between the two pans -- I have some smaller cake pans with higher sides that I like to use as an alternative. Unfortunately, I tend to "play it by ear" when I do so -- probably something like half the 8" batter into the smaller pan, expecting it to be thicker. As it is thicker, I lower the heat (i.e., from 350 to 325) and then monitor (both sight and toothpick) for done. Wish I could be more scientific/math-ic (and smslaw, even if jr high math skills were just a few years ago, I'm AWED that you pulled them out! Is this a pie X r-squared kind of thing? [bad pun; sorry!]).

If you aren't changing the depth of the batter between the pans, I'd use the same temp but expect them to cook quicker.