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Cake cutting guide


If somebody other than you will be cutting your cake it is vital that they understand exactly what size a serving is supposed to be and how to cut it correctly. This seems obvious but people who are not trained to cut a cake tend to cut slices too large and a 150 serving cake quickly becomes a 100 serving one.  

A tipsy mother of the bride cutting pie size wedding cake servings and later complaining that the cake isn't enough is quite a common occurrence. It can be even more disastrous if too large slices are cut from a child's birthday cake and some children are left without cake. Once these untrained cake cutters realise about their mistake they will immediately look for somebody else to shift the blame upon and what usually happens is accusing the cake decorator of having made the cake too small.

The best way to avoid being blamed for other people's cake cutting mistakes is to provide your customers with cake cutting instructions together with the cake. The following points is what your customers will need to know:

  • When cutting a cake 2 people are always better than 1 especially for larger and more complex cakes. As one distributes the cut slices the other can concentrate exclusively on the cutting.
  • You need a clean damp towel to wipe the knife clean every few slices. If the knife gets too sticky the cake slices will become ragged and untidy on the edges, in some cases the cake slice will end up on the plate in a shapeless mound of crumbles.  
  • For larger cakes with tiers and separators you need to have enough room to rest all the inedible equipment as you go along.  
Tiered cakes with separators
  • A tiered cake (generally a wedding cake) needs to be cut starting from the top. The smallest top tier is usually removed and set aside as this is traditionally the bride and groom keepsake tier.
  • Remove the second tier and place it in front of you (never attempt to cut a cake whilst still on top of the separators)   The cutting of the cake will depend on the shape of the cake as illustrated below.
  • Whilst square and rectangular cakes are fairly straight forwards to cut the round ones are slightly more complex. Whatever their shape servings usually measure 1" by 2" by the depth of the tier or an equivalent.
If the cake is round  

Before sinking the knife in the cake slightly mark on it where you intend to cut it, this is to ensure that you are slicing the right serving sizes. If for example you are cutting a 12" round cake (to be cut in 3 concentric circles) use the tip of your knife to mark the centre of the cake, the border of the inner circle and finally the border of the middle circle. The outer circle will provide 32 servings you should mark a quarter of this at a time (as each quarter will provide 8 servings it will therefore be easier to judge this smaller size by eye). Start cutting from the outer circle making sure that the slices are no longer than 2"

 If the cake is square  

Because of their shape square and rectangular cakes are much easier to cut. You should still make the markings on the cake before you start cutting. If the cake is small the tip of your knife is enough to leave the markings, if the cake is large it is more precise to make small markings at 2" intervals on 2 opposite sides of the cake and mark a line by stretching a thread the entire length of the cake and lowering it on the surface of the cake until it leaves a faint line between the two predefined points. You should then proceed to slice across 2" of the edge of the cake and then cut the 2" stripe at 1" intervals so that a serving will measure 1" by 2" by the depth of the cake.   

Every time you finish with a tier remove the next one and repeat the same steps as above. 
Tiered cakes without separators

Cutting tiered cakes without separators follows the same mechanics of the above the main difference is that the tiers are not removed from the cake but will be cut whilst still in their original position. The only tier that is likely to be removed is the top one (if it is a wedding cake this will be the bride and groom keepsake tier), it therefore needs to be made in such a way that it can be easily removed without creating too much damage to the rest of the cake.  

There isn't a precise rule on how to cut cakes, some cake decorators offer 2" by 2" servings.

Whatever shape or size cake you sell it is important to have a reference diagram like the ones below in order to guide your customers through the cake cutting process.  

Below are the diagrams of the most common round and square cake sizes, they show how servings should be cut for every different shape.

By clicking on the image you will be forwarded to the printable version of the diagram.

8 Inch round cake
10 Inch round cake
12 Inch round cake
14 Inch round cake
16 Inch round cake
18 Inch round cake
8 Inch square cake
10 Inch square cake
12 Inch square cake
14 Inch square cake
16 Inch square cake
18 Inch square cake


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