Desperately Need Help With Son's Birthday Cake!

Baking By martabell Updated 5 Jan 2016 , 1:58pm by martabell

martabell Posted 9 Dec 2015 , 6:50am
post #1 of 18

I'm making this cake for my son's birthday.  Here is the link:

I need to make it in an 18x13 pan.  I've never baked a cake in that large a pan before and I'm afraid I'm going to mess this up.  Do I need to double or triple the recipe to get a good sized cake?  Also I don't have a huge enough bowl to fit all those ingredients in.  What should I do - leave it sitting on the counter until I have two or three batters or is it safe to put in refrigerator until the rest is all done?  There is baking powder and soda in it and I'm afraid I'm going to totally screw this up!  Also not sure what temp. or how long to bake!  Hoping someone can help me!  Thanks! 

17 replies
sykescakes Posted 9 Dec 2015 , 2:32pm
post #2 of 18

So in number one of the directions it says to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, so that is the temp you bake it at. Then in step 4 it says to bake for 25 min. For your question on if you need to double of tripple the recipe, if you don't and you bake it all at once, I'm quessing you will get a nice thick layer of cake, she baked hers in 3 9" round pans. If you want multible layers I would double it for two layers and then triple it for three layers. While each layer is baking you can mix the next layer.

Pastrybaglady Posted 9 Dec 2015 , 4:41pm
post #3 of 18

@martabell  On that page there is also a recipe for a sheet cake made in a jelly roll pan.  I would double that recipe.  It would be such a hassle to make batch after batch until you got the right amount of batter.  What kind of mixer do you have?  If you have a hand mixer go to the nearest dollar store and buy the biggest container you can find.  They usually have salad bowls or even buckets.  They would do the trick.  If you have a small stand mixer just use it to cream the butter and sugar and then do the final mixing in whatever big container you can get your hands on.  

In a pan that large I would also use upside down flower nails to help the cake bake evenly.

sykescakes Posted 9 Dec 2015 , 4:46pm
post #4 of 18

Oh sorry, when I read that the first time I was thinking 8x11 pan not 18x13!!! @Pastrybaglady  is correct that you will need a large amount of batter! Good Luck!

martabell Posted 10 Dec 2015 , 2:09am
post #5 of 18

Thanks for the replies, but do I need to bake at a lower oven temp?  I remember reading somewhere for larger cakes to always bake at 325 degrees.  Is that right or just follow the 350 degrees and start checking after 20 min? 

Pastrybaglady, when you say to double the recipe for the sheet cake, I don't know if you noticed or not but it's not the same recipe as the other one.  It has less butter, eggs, flour and no baking powder in it.  Does this mean it is a more heavy, dense cake than the original one I wanted to make?  If I use the layer cake recipe and double it, will it give me a lighter, higher cake than if I double the sheet one?  I was originally going to freeze it and pray it would hold together so I could use my whipped cream/mascarpone frosting on it without cracking or breaking.

What a royal pain in the rear this has turned out to be!!  

Pastrybaglady Posted 10 Dec 2015 , 3:02am
post #6 of 18

I did not realize it was a different recipe, but it looks like it would have a good texture.  It does not have baking powder but it has yogurt and baking soda.  It's really difficult to know how a recipe will react other than to try it.  Maybe making two sheet cakes, filling and stacking will work better for you.  If you have two separate bakes you will not have the large bowl problem and the timing of mixing and baking two batches will not be such an issue.  You can even bake on two separate days if time is also an issue.  I always bake cakes at 325.  Make sure to push the batter out to the corners to get more of an even bake.

martabell Posted 10 Dec 2015 , 4:51am
post #7 of 18

You are my angel of mercy!!!!  *O:-) angel 

Actually, if I doubled the sheet cake recipe instead of the other one, there will be a lot less ingredients to put in the bowl and I'm pretty sure it should all fit.  I would just need to make sure everything is combined all the way down the bowl.  My mixmaster is a Sears Kenmore and I think it's a little smaller than a KitchenAid.  However if I do bake two separate cakes, it will definitely eliminate the hassle of trying to saw through one thick, frozen cake.  I just hope it tastes good, cuz the other cake with the  layers looked higher and lighter unless it's just the picture.

So when you bake your cakes at 325, how long after before it's safe to start checking and when is it safe to remove from pan to finish cooling or is it the same as a 13x9?

Btw, thanks for the link on the nails.  So how many nails do you think should do the trick?  I told my mother-in-law about that and she seems to think it will make the cake drier since the metal will attract more heat throughout the cake.  Oh, I am dying to prove her wrong!  lol


Pastrybaglady Posted 10 Dec 2015 , 6:04am
post #8 of 18

If you are baking in the 18 x 15 pan I would use 3 nails and bake 30 minutes, rotate the pan and then start checking after 20 minutes and go from there.  If you are using the jellyroll pans I would start checking 5 minutes before the recipe says.  I consider the cake "done" when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.  If it comes out perfectly clean it may be overbaked.

About the nails... overbaking makes cakes dry.  if the cake bakes unevenly some of the cake has to bake longer than ideal which ends up overbaking some parts of the cake.  So baking evenly and correctly results in a better cake.

Another tip would be to line the bottom of the pan with parchment with the paper extending beyond the pan because there's more risk of damage when you de-pan a larger cake.  With the parchment you will be able to easily slide the cake out of the pan once you've released the sides.

martabell Posted 10 Dec 2015 , 2:51pm
post #9 of 18

I've always used Baker's Joy on my pans and never had any problems releasing, but I am very worried about using a larger pan.  So if I use parchment paper too, I wouldn't cut it to fit the pan or are you just speaking of putting it on the bottom only?  In other words, if I let it go beyond the pan around the sides too, how do you keep the paper fitting the pan properly and not lifting up or creasing in the corners?  (Sorry for dumb question, I just want to make sure I do this right, I already messed up one cake before I came on this site!) :(  Also, how long do you wait to release the cake after it comes out of the oven?   

Pastrybaglady Posted 10 Dec 2015 , 5:09pm
post #10 of 18

Not dumb questions at all. Baker's stress is real! For large sheets I lay a single long piece along the bottom and goes up the two sides at the ends.  When the cake is baked and nearly cool I run a thin blade along the two uncovered sides of the pan, tilt it slightly,and pull the cake that is stuck to the paper gently out onto the coolng surface.  Afterthe cake is completely cool you can do what you want with it - wrap it up and freeze it or fill and stack right away.

martabell Posted 10 Dec 2015 , 11:31pm
post #11 of 18

Ok, I understand now.  Thank you. 

Just one more thing I would love your opinion on.  I was considering using cake flour (well, actually AP flour & cornstarch because I don't have actual cake flour) instead of AP flour in the sheet cake recipe as well as making sour milk in place of the whole milk.  I just want to make sure it doesn't get too heavy and dense, but I also don't want it to break apart on me, since I am going to make it a two layer cake.  If you think I'm better off just sticking to the recipe, I will wholeheartedly trust your judgement.  I was looking at your profile of those absolutely gorgeous cakes you made and you without a doubt know what you're talking about!!     

Pastrybaglady Posted 11 Dec 2015 , 12:29am
post #12 of 18

I would stick with the recipe.  AP flour and cornstarch are not the same as cake flour and adding sour milk when there is already yogurt will throw off the acidity level the baking soda is working with.

Thank you for the kind words :)  Good luck and do come back and tell how it all worked out!

martabell Posted 11 Dec 2015 , 12:59am
post #13 of 18

Whoops, I forgot about the yogurt!  You are absolutely right! 

I guess the reason why making this cake is stressing me out so much is because I've never made one this large before.  And with trying to get everything done for Christmas, planning a good sized birthday/Christmas party and all the cooking, baking and cleaning on top of it all, well...*~X( at wits' end  I'm sure you get the idea!

Anyway, I cannot tell you how very grateful I am to you for all your help!  I wish you could come over and party with us (as well as help me with cutting up the cake!)  lol

Thanks again & hope you & yours have a wonderful holiday season!

Pastrybaglady Posted 11 Dec 2015 , 1:05am
post #14 of 18

Aww, well think of me  being there in spirit telling you to breathe and it's all going to be fine!  The holidays can be crazy making.  Don't give in to the stress focus on the merry!

Pastrybaglady Posted 28 Dec 2015 , 11:39pm
post #15 of 18

@martabell  So how did the cake come out?

martabell Posted 5 Jan 2016 , 2:46am
post #16 of 18

I'm surprised you remembered me!  I bet I probably stood out to you considering all the questions I had!  I'm also sorry it's taken me so long to reply back to you!  The holidays can be so grueling, although I always become very sad when it comes time to take down all the decorations.   *sigh*...

Anyway, getting back to my cake.  Well, can we talk train wreck?  lol  See, now that it's over I can look back on it and laugh (um...sort of!).  But this is definitely one for the books! 

Attempt #1:  I unbelievably forgot to put sugar in, but threw it in at the end and baked it anyway since I hated to throw away all those ingredients.  That one went in the freezer for some other day when just my family can try it out and say how lousy it came out!  Not too big a deal!  Whipped cream frosting will make anything taste palatable!  Or else, scrape the frosting off, eat that and throw away the cake!   :)

Attempt #2:  I made the sheet cake and it actually looked pretty good, but I was disappointed that while it looked like it rose well in the pan, when it came out and cooled, it shrunk (shriveled?).  By then it looked so flat, like there was barely any cake.  Naturally, being the perfectionist that I try to be, I threw that one in the freezer too and decided I was going to make another one - different recipe and with baking powder hoping it would rise and stay that way.  So... I found another recipe that looked and sounded really good.  Here's the link:

So I now end up attempting cake #3.  Quite a few people couldn't make it to the party, so I only had to double the recipe which made it easier.  So I put it in what-I-thought was my 15x11 BAKING pan, but was really my 15x8 ROASTING pan!  They look so similar (except the length and height!).  lol Mind you I was running beyond empty with only a few hours sleep every night from about 2 weeks beforehand trying to play Betty Crocker cooking and baking for this party (as well as trying to get ready for Christmas)!  Anyway, this cake seemed to take forever to bake (go figure)!  Taking it out of the pan was a total nightmare!  It landed on the table but unbelievably stayed in tact (probably from being so thick!).  Hurray!  The two cookie racks I put together that I thought were linked together evenly - surprise! - weren't and I didn't notice until the cake cracked down the middle and another crack slightly off the center, too!  I was almost going to go for cake #4 *L-) loser until I knocked some sense into my head and thought, "I must be totally insane!  They can just eat ice cream if they don't like it!  I REFUSE to make another cake! "  At this point, I couldn't care less what that stupid cake looked or tasted like, I was absolutely done!

I took the cake out of the freezer the night before and frosted this solid brick.  I wanted to cut it in half lengthwise to frost the center so it wouldn't be so thick, but in telling my mother-in-law, she said to leave it as is because it's so thick (and cracked) and to just pile on the frosting.  The Peanuts Gang ornaments I used on it were too heavy for all that whipped cream frosting and kept sinking and falling over in the frosting.  It took some maneuvering, and decorating frosting to get them to hold.  After frosting it, I let it sit out for about 5 hours hoping it would be completely thawed for the party the next day.  Actually, the morning of the party I took it out and let it sit again for another 2-3 hours since I was so afraid it was still frozen.  Well, we cut the cake that evening and guess what?  It was still kind of frozen!  I was having trouble cutting it into slices, so I called my mother-in-law in the kitchen and she "sawed off" pieces for everyone!  Do you want to talk about embarrassed?!  Everyone laughed and said how delicious they thought it was but I figured they were just trying to be nice.  But do you know what?  Once I tasted it, I thought the same thing!  And the next day when it was fully thawed, it was so moist and delicious, I can't wait to make that recipe again!  Well, not anytime too soon though, but definitely after a good night's sleep and the right baking pan!  lol  But after all that, would you believe I totally forgot to get a picture of the finished cake?! 

Sorry this is so long-winded!  At first I felt funny responding considering everything I went through.  Then I decided I just had to tell this story since it was too good a story not to!  Everyone could use a good chuckle every now and then, right?!


Pastrybaglady Posted 5 Jan 2016 , 3:52am
post #17 of 18

Oh my!  It all sounds so traumatic, congrats on hanging in there!  So you've got all these big frozen cakes in your freezer?  Wonder if the first recipe tastes good.  Glad to hear it ultimately worked out.  Was your son happy?  That's the most important thing.  It'll go better next time!  Thanks for sharing your cake adventure  laughing.png

martabell Posted 5 Jan 2016 , 1:58pm
post #18 of 18

As I was typing the whole ordeal last night, I had to chuckle myself at times.  The only part that really bothers me is that no one thought to take a picture of the cake!  It's on video, but no pic.  :(  But that is another story in itself! 

When everyone was called to come in and sing happy birthday and cut the cake, my son suddenly became shy, ran into the other room and hid behind the chair!  I still don't fully understand why he did that, he's never done it before.  We kept calling him, but he refused to come out.  My husband had to pick him up and carry him into the other room, while everyone sang happy birthday a second time.  He wouldn't blow out the candles and ran out of the room again!  I had a couple of other kids blow out his candles, before all the wax dripped all over the cake!  lol  He never ended up cutting his cake or having the first piece.  At least it was all caught on tape to look back on!  In fact, he didn't eat any cake until the following day.  But yes, he did like it with sprinkles in it, although he ate all the frosting off first and left some cake because he said the frosting was all gone!  Kids - go figure!  My husband said to me, "You've never had a problem making a cake before, I can't believe you had so many problems!  That will teach you to go to bed so late every night and loose all that sleep!  No one can function like that, including YOU!"  My motto for that day was MURPHY'S LAW!

Actually now you've got me thinking - now that I have cake in the freezer, maybe I could recreate another version of his 6 year birthday cake, just so we can have some kind of a picture to look back on?  I ran it by my hubby and he says, "No way!"  lol    

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