So you want to make the ultimate layered carrot cake…for a party of four. Or you want to morph that eight-serving coffee cake into a 13×9 potluck favorite. How do you adapt recipes for different baking pan sizes? Turns out, it isn’t as tough as you might think.
We’ve done the math on common pans for you in the chart below, so you can create desserts for two—or 20!—with confidence. If you’d like to figure out the math for yourself, read on. (Need to know how to cut down a recipe? Read our expert tips.)
How to Convert a Recipe to Any Size Pan
For baking cakes, brownies and other batter-y foods, find the area of the pan you want to use and compare it to the pan called for in the recipe. Then you’ll have a good idea of how your pan measures up, and you can increase or trim back the recipe accordingly.
It all starts with square inches.
Use the pan’s dimensions to calculate its area, which is described in square inches. You’ll remember the simple equations below from your school days.
Rectangular and Square Pans
Find the area by multiplying the length by the width.
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Here are the calculations for common square and rectangular pans.
- 6-in. square pan = 36 square in.
- 8-in. square pan = 64 square in.
- 9-in. square pan = 81 square in.
- 11×7-in. pan = 77 square in.
- 13×9-in. pan = 117 square in.
- 15×10-in. jellyroll pan = 150 square in.
Editor’s tip: An 11×7-in. pan is about 2/3 the size of 13×9: (77 / 117 = 65%). Don’t want to make a big 13×9-inch pan? Make a 2/3 batch of the recipe. Alternatively, you can multiply any 11×7 recipe by 1.5 and turn it into a crowd-pleasing 13×9.
To find the area of a circle, you multiply π (3.14) by the radius, squared. Radius is the distance from the center of a circle to the outside. To find it, simply divide the diameter of your round pan by 2.
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Here are the calculations for common round pans.
- 6-in. round = 3.14 x [3 x 3] = 28 square in.
- 8-in. round = 3.14 x [4 x 4] = 50 square in.
- 9-in. round = 3.14 x [4.5 x 4.5] = 64 square in.
- 10-in. round = 3.14 x [5 x 5] = 79 square in.
- 12-in. round = 3.14 x [6 x 6] = 113 square in.
- 15-in. round = 3.14 x [7.5 x 7.5] = 177 square in.
- 18-in. round = 3.14 x [9 x 9] = 254 square in.
Editor’s tip: A pan’s dimensions are measured from inside wall to inside wall—not from its outer edges.
Next, factor in volume.
Determine the volume by multiplying the area by the height.
Cake pans are generally the same height, so you don’t have to go wild here. But, remember that pans of very different heights (such as a tall loaf pan vs. a shallow cake pan) will create different end products. Deep, dense pan shapes, such as loaves, require a longer bake time than shallow pans, such as tart pans or jelly-roll pans. It takes heat longer to get to the middle of a loaf pan, whereas the contents of a jelly-roll pan are more spread out for quicker baking.
A sugary cake batter may overbrown on the outside by the time the inside tests done if you bake it in a loaf pan. Likewise, banana bread baked in a cake pan will likely be drier than bread baked in a loaf, which is more dense and bakes up with less surface area exposed.
Editor’s tip: Bake in a similar-shaped pan—just a different size—to get the best results. You’ve got this!