How To Calculate Servings?

Decorating By Pebbles1727 Updated 23 Mar 2011 , 7:56pm by TheCakerator

Pebbles1727 Posted 21 Mar 2011 , 8:54pm
post #1 of 31

Hi everyone,
I got a request for a golf ball cake, sitting on a tee. I'm sure I'll be posting soon on how to engeneer and carve that one soon, but for now I need to provide a quote, and I have no idea how to estimate # of servings. They want a cake a size of a regular basketball. Anyone done something like that before? How many servings will it be?
Please help. Thanks in advance

30 replies
sugardugar Posted 21 Mar 2011 , 9:36pm
post #2 of 31

I quote the price of my carved cakes as per the cake I start with. If they want a 10" cake carved into something, they pay for a 10". Yes, I realize I use less icing and fondant, but carving takes time: your labour is far too precious to be free.

Pebbles1727 Posted 21 Mar 2011 , 10:44pm
post #3 of 31

Ok, so basketball is about 9.5 inches in diameter, let's say 9 just to make it even. So, I'll have to start with 9 inch cakes 9 inch tall= 44 servings. But how do I know how many it will actually serve? Is 35 sounds like a good number?

KoryAK Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 12:34am
post #4 of 31

You use the volume formula for a sphere:
(4/3) * pi * radius3

(don't worry, i had to look it up icon_smile.gif) then divide by what your normal serving volume is (ie. 1x2x4" slice = 8 cubic inches of cake)

sugardugar Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 1:38am
post #5 of 31 that's my goto reference for servings for non-wedding pieces icon_smile.gif

Pebbles1727 Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 1:41am
post #6 of 31

ok, I did the math, and ended up with 47 servings, there is no way it will feed that many with so many curved slices. I guess we'll just call it 40 roughly and go with it.
Thanks, P

lilmissbakesalot Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 1:58am
post #7 of 31
Originally Posted by sugardugar that's my goto reference for servings for non-wedding pieces icon_smile.gif

16 servings from a 10"?? Is this one layer because a 2 layer (4" tall) 10" cake can serve 30 easy.

lilmissbakesalot Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 2:00am
post #8 of 31

I use the wilton wedding servings for all cakes.

sugardugar Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 3:32am
post #9 of 31

that's why i said non-wedding pieces.

i consider 'birthday party' servings to be different.

lilmissbakesalot Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 3:39am
post #10 of 31

Why though?

Do you charge different for the bigger slices?

And please don't think that I am calling you out, but I hear this alot from people. Oh birthdays are different, but it's the same amount of cake and usually birthdays are more work since people tend to want all of the bells and whistles. So rather than selling an 8" as 20 servings for $100 you sell it for 1/2?? I just don't get it. I charge a little less for occasion servings vs wedding but only because I don't torte occasion cakes and I limit the flavor options (unless you want to pay extra of course). If you are going to give bigger servings shouldn't you charge more for them? You are giving them 50% more cake. As a wedding client I'd be pissed too.

TheCakerator Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 3:12pm
post #11 of 31

I'm so glad I caught this thread .. I am trying to figure out prices for my cakes and I'm feeling confident at 2.00 a serving .. but, would that be the same for wedding/birthday? I thought wedding slices were served smaller, and party sizes were served bigger? So technically you aren't getting the same amount of servings from say, an 8in round, for a birthday as you would a wedding ... which would make the price different .. right? I'm so confused! icon_cry.gif

sweetts99 Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 3:28pm
post #12 of 31

Cakerator, you are not the only one confused! lol I am having the same problem trying to figure out servings and pricing. I have the matrix but I am either really dense, or am making it to hard, cause I just don't get it. Also I can't seem to use it! I think my operating systerm is to old! UGH.
Anyway I printed out the KEENCAKES cake serving chart and I also have the same question, are these servings for on layer or two?

SO discombobulated!

Pebbles1727 Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 3:30pm
post #13 of 31

Ok, not exactly what my question was icon_lol.gif but since we went there, I do not charge differently for wedding cakes, I charge $2.50 for buttercream tiered, $2 for buttercream single tier. I use Earlene's chart no matter what cake I'm doing. I charge extra for figures.
Hope this helps someone, P

Pebbles1727 Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 3:31pm
post #14 of 31

I don't know what you are using, but all my cakes are 4 to 4.25 inches in height, so Earlene's chart works the best for me icon_biggrin.gif

lilmissbakesalot Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 3:40pm
post #15 of 31

They are supposed to be for a 2 layer cake... which is insane if you ask me. I don't have different sized servings for wedding vs party. I have never had someone come back and say "we didn't have enough cake". I always explain what a serving size is and that the cake is designed to serve (let's use an 8" for example) 20 people. Now this cake could serve more or it could serve one, but it is designed to serve 20. I tell them if they have big cake eaters they might want to order a slightly bigger cake.

The thing that is terrible about having different sizes for wedding vs party is that you make SO much less for the same sized cake. Unless this birthday cake is a simple "Happy Birthday You" with a couple of BC roses and a shell border... there is no reason to make that much less. Most of the time, wedding cakes are simple... fondant ribbon and maybe some swiss dots... birthday cakes are where people want the crazy stuff. So you are charging 1/2 price for the same amount of cake and MORE work??? Makes no sense at all.

Earlene's chart is a generous serving... and most venues are going to cut per the wilton charts no matter what. I use a modified Wilton Wedding... I just round down to the nearest 5 to make the math easier... LOL.

sugardugar Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 4:00pm
post #16 of 31

That is interesting and something I always wondered about: if some people charge the same for wedding vs other occasion cakes. My non-wedding cakes are infinitely cheaper than wedding.

I charge more than most local decorators and the exact same as my favourite local caker. I am the most expensive around here, by a lot, and I hardly break even. I live in the poorest province in Canada, in a small town, and sadly cakes cost only what people will pay for them: as with all goods.

My all-occasion cakes are around $1.50 per serving (using a wedding serving chart) and wedding cakes are about $3 per serving. For every order I get I get about 10 nearly laugh 'in my face' over my outrageous prices.

This is after I've increased all prices..

The other decorator with the same pricing scheme as me, and I, are increasing our prices this fall (since we're both mostly booked til then) and 2012 cakes already follow the new pricing scheme.

I'm so jealous of you guys in bigger, and fairer, areas.

Sadly, I hardly get wedding orders since my portfolio is lacking (I literally baked my first cake ever at xmas) and I'd never get to bake a cake if I charged more for all-occasions.

Most people back out of orders when they ask for extras and realize I have to charge more. Oi.

TheCakerator Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 4:10pm
post #17 of 31

well, at least I am not the only one confused! icon_lol.gif

So let me get this straight lilmiss,

You use the wilton serving chart (probably the wedding cake serving one?) And you just simply round down to the nearest 5, so if a cake serves 24, or 23, you would tell the customer it serves 20, and then charge say, 2.00 a slice so that would be a 40.00 cake, regardless if it is for a wedding or birthday?

ktm00n Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 4:35pm
post #18 of 31

I charge $2.00 a serving for wedding (with an increased charge for fondant or certain fillings). I have a flat rate for other occasion cakes (per size), which is significantly less than my wedding cakes. There are a few reasons I do it this way:

1) Most birthday cakes I get requests for are standard, "Happy Birthday So-and-so" with a rose spray and border (that's just what people want in my area).
2) The supplies get factored in to my wedding cake prices. For most standard birthday cakes, I don't need extra boards, separator plates, pillars/dowels, etc. The customer has to absorb the cost of that, as well as the cost of the ingredients and my time.

I also go by the Wilton wedding serving size guide, but I use 1" x 2.5" x 4" as my size (listed as the "party serving")

ktm00n Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 4:38pm
post #19 of 31

Also, I don't know if many of you charge a delivery/set up fee for Wedding cakes, but that is also included in my cost (within a certain driving radius). There's a lot more to costing out wedding cakes than just cake/icing ingredients and time, and a lot of it does not always apply to birthday/other occasion cakes.

SwtCanuck Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 4:40pm
post #20 of 31

I tend to charge per cake rather than per serving. I tell the customer it should serve this many people but if this is the look you are wanting it will be this much. My recipe (the chemistry of it doesn't work as well making it smaller) makes a minimum size so that is what the customer is going to get. If it is for less people, well I just tell them they will have extra cake. I also get paid less for all occasion cakes than wedding cakes but I think that is just the burden we have to bare as decorators.

lilmissbakesalot Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 5:37pm
post #21 of 31

Charging per cake or per serving is technically the same.

I can say I charge $100 for an 8" cake or that I charge $5/serving... it's all the same in the end.

I start occasion cakes at $5/serving and wedding cakes at $6. Same serving chart... but occasion cakes are not torted and they are limited to one flavor combo for the entire cake. Wedding cakes are torted and they may choose more than one flavor combo. Fondant is included in the base price as well as basic decoration (think fondant dots and stripes and such). I do not do basic "Happy Birthday You" cakes with shell borders... you come to me for a completely custom (usually) tiered creation. I wouldn't dream of chargin $5/serving for a very basic cake.

Cakerator... that is exactly what I do. Wilton (and yes the wedding chart) says a 6" serves 12 so I say 10... if it says a 12" serves 56... then I say 55. Though it is very easy to serve 12 with a 6" cake... I charge enough to cover a couple of potential servings lost. I include a diagram showing how to properly cut your cake and get the intended amount of servings and I have never had someone come back and say "we ran out of cake".

Cake is dessert... it's not meant to be a meal. icon_biggrin.gif

sugardugar Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 7:54pm
post #22 of 31

I couldn't dream of those prices, I'm jealous! If you look at the most recent photo in my gallery, that's a pretty standard single tier that I am asked to make and sold for $40. It's three layers, filled with BCx2 and strawberry preservesx1, orange cake. You can see the outside so I don't need to explain that.


lilmissbakesalot Posted 22 Mar 2011 , 8:57pm
post #23 of 31

I have a $100.00 minimum order... that get's you a decorated 8" cake. Most people go with a tiered cake though...

You make some really cute cakes... that last one with the daisies... worth way more than $40.00.

I was so scared when I moved into the $4/serving and up range, but the people came. You need to make sure that you aren't just clearning $10.00 profit on a cake. That doesn't cover your time at all.

TheCakerator Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 3:29pm
post #24 of 31

Thank you for clarifying that for me lilmiss .. I dream of the day I could get 5.00 a serving, or even have a 100.00 minimum order icon_biggrin.gif But for now, I am feeling confident at 2.00 a serving ..

I do have another question though .. I was on the wilton site yesterday, checking out a few things and noticed that on the page that shows their wedding cake styles, like just sketches of how to stack cakes, not including the top tier because it is saved for the anniversary, those numbers were different then the other page, that showed how to cut a cake ..

Know what I mean?

This is the page with their sketches

And this is the page showing how to cut the cakes

If you look at the sketches, and see a 12X4 round serves 56, then look at how to cut the cake, there are not 56 servings accounted for ... I only get 54?

lilmissbakesalot Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 4:04pm
post #25 of 31

If you do it mathematically... it does come out right. A standard serving of cake is 1x2x4" which is 8 cubic inches. If you calculate the area of a 12" round you get 452 cubic inches... divied that by 8 and you get 56.5 servings.

I always count the top tier in the servings and offer a complimentary 4" tier for the 1 year anniversary. This way no one has to eat year old frozen cake.

TheCakerator Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 5:44pm
post #26 of 31

I will take your word as far as the mathematical equation goes icon_lol.gif

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!

lilmissbakesalot Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 7:07pm
post #27 of 31

LOL... I used an online calculator to do it. (though the equation is volume = pi times the radius squared times the height)

It's nice that way since you can see how changing the serving size changes your servings quite easily. A 1.5x2x4" slice is 12 cubic inches and leaves you with about 37 servings... But it's 50% more cake... hence it shoudl cost 50% more than your standard wedding serving.

A good way to get around this is to charge by the cake for your smaller occasion cakes (again you would calculate this with your per serving price) and giving a serving range. So you basic "happy birthday you" with some roses cake you could say:

'this 12" cake will cost you $110.00 (55 x $2.00) and will serve 37 to 55 depending on how you slice it.'

Always price with the highest # of servings.

TheCakerator Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 7:22pm
post #28 of 31

Thank you .. I ONLY do special occasion cakes, no wedding cakes for me .. to stressful!

But I think I would like to charge 2.00 a serving, and I think I want to use the wilton wedding cake cutting guide, even though they would be party servings .. do you think that sounds ok?

bakerfairy Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 7:33pm
post #29 of 31

A good way to get around this is to charge by the cake for your smaller occasion cakes (again you would calculate this with your per serving price) and giving a serving range. So you basic "happy birthday you" with some roses cake you could say:

'this 12" cake will cost you $110.00 (55 x $2.00) and will serve 37 to 55 depending on how you slice it.'

Always price with the highest # of servings.

I usually do this for small occasion cakes AND wedding cakes. That way there is no question about the number of servings vs. the price per serving. I can't be held responsible if someone doesn't cut it according to the chart I provide.

lilmissbakesalot Posted 23 Mar 2011 , 7:35pm
post #30 of 31

The only way that you will know if charging $2.00 a serving at the party slice, will be to sit down and add it all up and see what is left after ingredients, boards, piping bags (if you use disposable), gas, electricity, the whole 9. You want to be making at LEAST minimum wage, but really you want to be making more.

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