bake a cake

How Long to Bake a Cake (By Inches)

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Baking cake seems like something that should be simple, right? The thing is that it can be more complicated than you might think to bake a cake to perfection. You have different sizes of cakes and different types of cakes, and all of our ovens can be different too. 

The good news is that if you know the tips for baking a cake based on the size, you can stick to a general guideline for baking and won’t end up underbaking or burning your culinary masterpiece.

While there are certain factors to consider for baking a cake, like your pan and maybe the type of cake, you can typically figure out approximately how long you need to bake a cake based on the inches it measures in diameter.

How long do you bake a cake? This will vary by size and thickness, but generally, a cake that is 4 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick will need to bake approximately 22-26 minutes. The times go up from there depending on how big the cake is.

In this guide, we will walk you through just how long to bake a cake in detail. We will break it down for you based on different cake sizes.

Cake Baking Time By Inches

How long you bake your cake really will depend on how many inches the cake is. We have several different options to cover for you here, from 4 inches clear to 16 inches. 

Most cakes or cake layers are 2-3 inches high, but they can be different sizes in length, or diameter if you use a round pan. 

bake a cake

You can check out our table for a quick guide but here is a quick summary as well. 4-inch cakes typically need to bake 22-26 minutes and 16-inch cakes need to cook around 55-60 minutes.

Every 2 inches of cake adds a little bit of cooking time, but it’s not a specific amount that you add. 

Here is a quick table with a breakdown, and then we will go into more detail to help you better understand the differences in time.

Cake Diameter (2″ thick)Baking Temp. Baking Time
4 inches350°F22-26 min
6 inches350°F35-40 min
8 inches350°F37-42 min
10 inches350°F40-45 min
12 inches350°F40-45 min
14 inches325°F50-55 min
16 inches325°F55-60 min

4-Inch Cake

A 4-inch cake is pretty small and will not take nearly as much baking time as a larger cake might.

Some bakers will tell you that baking a cake should be based on the ounces of batter. The truth is that it really depends on how large your cake is.

For example, a Bundt cake might take significantly longer. While it’s not usually very wide in diameter, it is really thick so it has to have enough time to cook through to the center.

On the same note, it’s a smaller area so the timing could be similar to that of a 14-inch cake. 

But we digress. 

A 4-inch cake will typically slice into 8 servings. They bake at approximately 350°F, although if you use a mix, this might differ for different pans. A 4-inch cake will bake approximately 22-26 minutes. 

This cake only uses about 1 cup of batter to fill the pan for a 2-inch thick cake. 

6-Inch Cake

A 6-inch cake is just slightly larger, but you might be surprised to find that it cooks at least 10 minutes longer than a 4-inch cake.

There is not necessarily that high of a gap with all of the different sizes, but it is a noticeable difference from the 4-inch cake to the 6-inch cake. 

A 6-inch cake will typically serve around 12 people, possibly more if you slice it small enough. These cook at about 350°F and the approximate cooking time will be 35-40 minutes. 

Baking a 6-inch cake uses about 2 1/4 cups of batter in a 2-inch-tall pan. You will notice that the larger the cook, the more cooking time it will require but this is the biggest gap in cooking times. 

8-Inch Cake

An 8-inch cake is just 2 inches larger than the 6-inch we just talked about. However, it uses quite a bit more batter to make and therefore will take a little bit more cooking time as well.

This cooking time really is not that much different from your 6-inch cake. You will notice it is only a couple minutes of difference.

An 8-inch cake will typically bake at 350°F. In most cases, you will use about 4 cups of batter to make an 8-inch cake that is 2 inches thick. An 8-inch cake can serve approximately 20 people, depending on the slices. 

An 8-inch cake will bake for approximately 37-42 inches. In comparison to your 6-inch cake, this is really only about 2 minutes more of cooking time. 

10-Inch Cake

You can bake a 9-inch cake, but it’s not a very common size, so we are going to move right along to a 10-inch cake. Again, you will notice that the 10-inch cake doesn’t require much more cooking time than your average 8-inch cake.

Much like our progression from 6 inches to 8 inches, you will notice that we only add a couple of minutes of cooking time again for this size of cake. 

Here’s the rundown. A 10-inch cake serves about 28 people, depending on the size of the slices. It takes approximately 6 cups of batter to make a cake that is 2 inches thick (which is the traditional thickness). 

A 10-inch cake will bake at 350°F, in most cases. The cooking time for a 10-inch cake should be around 40-45 minutes. Take note that this is only 2-3 minutes of additional time compared to the 8-inch cake. 

12-Inch Cake

A 12-inch cake is going to surprise you when it comes to baking time. In all of our other cake sizes, we have seen an increase in baking time. 

However, a 12-inch cake will bake for about the same amount of time that your 10-inch cake will.

A 12-inch cake serves about 40 people when sliced. You should plan to use approximately 8 cups of batter to make a 12-inch cake.

A 12-inch cake will also typically bake at 350°F. When you bake a 12-inch cake, you can plan on 40-45 minutes of baking time, which is exactly the same as a 10-inch cake. 

14-Inch Cake

When you move up to a 14-inch cake, you’re starting to get into bigger territory. Because of the size of this cake, there are some differences to how you bake the cake. You will notice that the temperature changes along with the timing.

The reason the temperature is reduced and you cook so much longer is that you want the cake to cook evenly. If you continue to use the higher temperature, you will have a center that isn’t cooked enough and edges that are browning, which you don’t want. 

A 14-inch cake will serve approximately 63 people. It’s a very large cake! Baking a 14-inch cake requires about 11 1/2 cups of batter to fill the pan to about 2 inches high. 

A cake this size should be baked at about 325°F rather than 350°F. The cooking time will be about 50-55 minutes, which you will notice is about 10 minutes longer than a 12-inch cake. This change accommodates the larger size and the lower temperature needs. 

16-Inch Cake

A 16-inch cake is the ultimate cake size. Again, it’s going to need to cook at a lower temperature and a slightly longer time. It serves a lot of people.

At a wedding, this size of cake can serve 100 people. The typical serving size is designed to serve about 77 people depending on how slices are cut. 

A 16-inch cake uses about 16 cups of batter to make. 

This size of the cake is similar to your 14-inch cake in that you want to make sure the center gets done without ruining the edges of your cake. That is where the lower temperature comes into play again. 

When you bake a 16-inch cake, you should plan to heat your oven to 325°F again. These cakes bake for about 55-60 minutes, which is just slightly longer than the 14-inch cake. It’s about a 5-minute difference. 

How Much Is a Cake Serving? 

It’s hard to know just how to cut a serving of cake. Especially when you consider how differently cakes can be made or shaped.

You can have round cakes as well as square or rectangular cakes. Of course, now you can also buy pans in tons of different specialty shapes, which just makes the slicing process awkward. 

A wedding cake is made to be served in small slices and therefore will often serve quite a few more people than your typical cake serving slices.

a cake slice

You can see that in our notation above with the 16-inch cake where it served 100 for a wedding but only 77 for traditional servings. 

There is a standard slicing size for serving cake. These slices are different from a wedding cake to a standard cake, which is why a wedding cake serves more. 

Of course, you probably won’t get a ruler out when you are cutting servings, but it at least gives you a general idea of the size to work with. 

Here are the sizes for most cake servings:

  • Traditional servings measure about 1 1/2 x 2 inches. 
  • Wedding cake servings measure about 1 x 2 inches. 

That little bit of difference in the serving size makes a fairly significant difference in the number of servings. 

When you slice cake, your servings very well might differ. These numbers are just approximate as a general guide for you. 

How Tall Should a Cake Be? 

In most cases, cakes are about 2-3 inches in height. This is not always the case, but that is the traditional height of a cake. A cake that is 4 inches in height probably has 2 layers to make it so. 

Of course, it really just depends on how much batter you use. This is one reason that we included the amount of batter you might need in our examples above, but again, this is just an approximate number. 

There is nothing that says your cake has to be 2 inches per layer, this is just the standard size for most cakes. If you happen to have a deeper cake, there is nothing wrong with that. Just be aware that it might affect your cooking times that we’ve shared here. 

Should My Time Change for a 3-Inch Deep Cake?

Yes. The times that we shared here were provided on the assumption that your cake will be a standard 2 inches thick. We know that sometimes people make thicker cakes and that is ok. 

If you make a cake that is 3 inches deep, your cooking time is going to increase. The increase will be about 5-10 minutes for this. 

So, for example, if you make a 16-inch cake that is 3 inches deep, you should plan for about 75-85 minutes of cooking time instead of the 55-60 for a 2-inch deep cake. 

We don’t have a breakdown for you on every single size of cake that is 3 inches deep. However, we recommend that you start with an extra 5 minutes and then check the cake and gauge your time from there.

It might require up to 15 minutes longer but in most cases, it won’t be that much. 

Can’t I Just Use a Higher Temperature to Bake a Cake? 

Well sure, you can bake your cake at a higher temperature if you really want to. However, we don’t recommend it. Here’s the thing. Your cake is meant to be cooked to a beautiful golden brown color. 

When you increase your temperature, you are thinking that you will just have a shorter cooking time. While that might be true, you also are going to hurt the quality of your food. 

Most cakes should be baked at 350°F. However, you might even need to reduce the temperature to only 325°F for some of your largest cakes to really get the best results.

We recommend using 350°F for most sizes but reducing to 325°F for cakes that are 24 inches or larger. 

If you increase your temperature to say 400°F, you are going to be disappointed. This will cause the cake to darken and create a drier, crispier outer crust on the cake.

The intention with a cake is to give it that fluffy texture with a light crust and a slightly caramelized flavor. Raising the temperature will not do this. 

Where Do I Place My Cake in the Oven? 

When you’re baking a cake, we recommend that you place your rack so that the cake can be in the center of the oven.

cake in the oven

This is the best place to get the most even heat around the entirety of the cake. If the cake is too high, the top might get too much heat and vice versa on the bottom.

Up Next: How To Cool A Cake Fast

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