Sheet cakes are simple, one-layer, frosted cakes that are often prepared for celebrations that involve a dozen or more participants. This type of cake has become a popular option for birthday parties, celebrations in the workplace, and family reunions and anniversaries. Typically, cakes of this type are prepared in one of three different sizes, depending on the number of servings are needed for the event.
For smaller gatherings, the most common size of sheet cake is the quarter sheet, which is typically 8 x 12 inches (20.32 x 30.48 cm). This simple cake is rectangular in shape and will provide ample servings for 12 to 20 people. The half sheet is typically 12 x 16 inches (30.48 x 40.64 cm), and will provide 30 to 50 servings, which may be just the right amount for office gatherings. As a third option, the full sheet can be a good choice for a large gathering. Generally, it is 16 x 24 inches (40.64 x 60.96 cm) and serves 60 to 100 people. It's important to note that there are some variations in cake sizes — a quarter sheet may be 9 x 13 inches (22.86 x 33.02 cm), a half sheet 13 x 18 inches (33.02 x 45.72 cm), and a full sheet 18 x 26 inches (45.72 x 66.04 cm).
Preparing a sheet cake is not very different from baking any type of cake. Instead of using standard round cake pans and baking multiple layers, a sheet or jellyroll pan will be used to bake a single layer. The ingredients that are used in preparing the batter are also the same as with any cake recipe, but will of course involve using larger quantities. Some special handling may be required when turning the layer out of the baking pan, since the cake is larger and more likely to break.
Today, many people choose to use the services of a supermarket bakery when a large cake is needed. There are a wide range of prepared cake designs that can be quickly adapted to any occasion in a short period of time. It is also possible to order the sheet cake in advance, often making it possible to have the colors and design of the cake customized especially for the event. In some cases, bakeries will also provide a cake with two thin layers, separated by frosting, ganache, or another filling.