How to adapt a cake recipe for different size tins 


Last week I made a two tier wedding cake for a friend and I decided that it was about time I really mastered getting the right amounts of ingredients for different sized cake tins, rather than doubling and hoping for the best. I got the basic gist of how to work it out from Ruth Clemens on her Pink whisk blog. You take your basic recipe and then measure the volume of water that the cake tin will hold. Now my Madeira cake recipe is for an 8″ cake but I find that the cake isn’t as deep as I’d like it to be. It usually only comes out about 3/4 of the depth of the tin, so I have been experimenting.

My goal was to have a cake that would rise to just above the rim of the cake tin so that I could skim off the top to make sure that it’s perfectly flat – ready for decorating. So I used my 8″ recipe in a 6″ tin and voila. Perfect result. So that was my base to work with.

How to measure the volume of a cake tin

The reason you need to measure the volume is so you know how much cake mix fits in your cake tin. Then you can measure the volume of the cake tin you want to use, in my case a 10″ and can work out how much more ingredients you’ll need.
My 10″ cake tin has a loose bottom so I used a new bin bag (with no holes in it) to line the tin then I could count in how many ml of water it needed to fill it.

The 6″ cake tin is 1200ml and the 10″ is 4000ml. To work out the formula  all you need to divide the big tin by the small tin so….

4000/1200= 3.3

I then needed to times each ingredient by 3.3. Are you with me so far? No? Just wait till we get to the egg part then!

I got a bit lost when Ruth explained the eggs conversion, so I just went for it. 3 eggs in a 6″recipe became 3×3.3= 9.9 eggs. Fair enough. 10 eggs should do it. But what do you do if your egg quantity comes out at 5.5 or 3.7? Ruth’s post has a chart to explain it but I basically decided to round up or down and if it was a .5, I rounded up. So far that has worked well for me!

I’ll be posting a Madeira cake chart for most commonly used cake tin sizes later this week. Everyone seems to be making Madeira cakes for wedding cakes and tiered birthday cakes at the mo and I keep getting asked for all sorts of ingredients for all sorts of sizes! So hang in there guys. I’m calculating it all out this week. But in the meantime here’s the ingredients for a 10″ cake.

10″ Madeira cake recipe

250g butter
250g margarine
660g caster sugar
3 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
10 eggs
745g plain flour
5 tsp baking powder
150ml hot water

  • Start by creaming the butters together then add the sugar till it’s pale and fluffy.
  • Add the vanilla essence and mix.
  • Very slowly add the eggs – a spoonful at a time. Add a spoon of the flour to prevent curdling.
  • Sieve the flour and baking powder into a separate bowl and have the hot water ready. Add the flour and water alternatively in four batches. This produces the fluffiest and most moist cake.
  • Bake in the oven at 170ºC (150ºC fan) for 2 hours (120 minutes) or until a skewer comes out of the centre clean.
  • Don’t open the oven door for the first 30 minutes. It will make the cake sink.
  • Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before turning out of the tin carefully.


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86 Comments on How to adapt a cake recipe for different size tins and a 10″ Madeira cake recipe.

  1. Can I ask why you use the mix of butter and margarine? Normally when I’m baking (just for home consumption mind!) I use just butter

    • Hello,
      I used to use just butter but by blending butter and margarine the cake comes out soooo much more moist, fluffy and light. And it doesn’t effect the taste at all. I haven’t looked back since.

      Give it a try and let me know how you get on. I’d love to know what you think.


  2. Any chance of putting the equivalent recipe for butter creaming cakes of the various sizes? I never know how much to make to sandwich them & cover with crumb coat & final coat. Sorry – more calculating!!!!

    • Brilliant idea! I’ve been meaning to work this out for ages. I just make up a few blocks of butter’s worth of buttercream and then eat what ever’s left over. This is not a good thing to do!!!!!


  3. Could have done with this when I was making George’s Christening cake! Got myself in a right old mess! Cxx

  4. Hi! Pls may I now why u sed hot water instead of cold water. And what’s the cause of tiny holes inside a cakes after baking. Thank u

    • Hello,

      I don’t know actually. It’s just that’s how my mum has always made it.

      The tiny holes are where the water expands in the cake mix as it’s baking. To reduce the holes make sure that you mix in the flour in three goes alternating with the water in three goes too. You’ll be amazed what a difference this makes – that’s another one of my mum’s top tips. I used to add all the flour then all the water and got lots of holes in my cake. Now I add the flour and water alternating for three goes the cakes come out more moist with hardly any holes at all!

      I hope that helps


      p.s. I should try it with cold water some time and see how it comes out!

  5. Hi, I am sure you have been asked this question before. How can you stop a cake rising so much in the middle. I have so much wastage it is not good for my wasteline x lol x many thanks x chris

  6. Thank you for posting this recipe and the adaptions for different sized tins, I now have a perfect 8″ x 10″ madeira cake such a delight after several disasters! Now all I have to worry about is the decoration!

  7. Hi there, I just happen to be surfing the net and came across your website. Quite useful tips.

    1. What would you wrap your cake in either the days before you decorate or when going to store in the freezer?

    2. Do you use ganache as part of the cake decorating process and if so how soon can you apply it?

    • Hello,
      I always wrap my completely cold cake in cling film and leave on the kitchen worktop. I usually only have to leave it over night before I cover it in sugarpaste so it’s not too long. Any longer and I would double wrap it in cling film and freeze it.

      Always allow your cake to completely defrost before adding any buttercream or sugarpaste or you end up with a soggy cake – been there. Done that!

      I have used ganache in place of buttercream many times. As long as the cake is completely cold you can apply it to the outside and in between layers.

      I hope that helps


  8. Hi, i have always used round tins but am using 11″ square tin in a few days as attempting a princess castle cake for my girls 3rd bday, What recipe would you recommend for a square tin!

    Many thanks

  9. i love this website am starting a 3 tier wedding cake on thursday with this wonderful recipe
    many thanks.

  10. Hi,Emma

    Where can I purchase a 8 by 10 ” rectangular cake tin from?

    Have searched amazon eBay and googled it but am getting back all sizes but! Please help

      • Emma, sorry to be a nuisance but any chance u could share the measurements for a Madeira cake to be baked in a 12″ square tin, also how long to bake for? And oven mark? Etc am ever so grateful to u, bless u

  11. Hi Emma,

    I hope you can help with your wondrous calculation: I have just purchased a ‘t-shirt’ shaped cake tin as I volunteered to make my nephew’s 21st birthday cake, I have measured the volume for it (4,500ml) please can you advise on the weight of ingredients that I will need for your delicious madeira cake. (tried the recipe for 8″ round today and it’s perfect!).

    Thanks in advance


  12. Tried the Madeira cake 10′. It tastes a bit doughy in the centre. Any tips on what I’m doing wrong

    • Hello,

      Usually this happens when it has either not been baked for long enough or the wrong size cake tin was used for the ingredients. I now wrap my cake tins in folded greaseproof paper to allow the middle of the cake to bake before the outer edge over bakes. Have a look at the post linked below for future cakes. The difference is amazing.


      Wrapping cake tins link

    • Sorry I don’t but I need to work this out! Watch this space!


  13. Hi I was wondering if you have a chart for square cakes too. If not what do I need for a 10inch square cake. Would really appreciate it. Thanks xx

    • Hello,

      I’m just working out the chart for square cakes now. Here’s the 10″ recipe

      Madeira cake recipe Square 10” (Cake Tin volume 4000ml)
      Butter 250g
      Margarine 250g
      Caster Sugar 670g
      Vanilla essence 3 ½
      Eggs 10
      Plain Flour 750g
      Baking powder 5 tsp
      Hot Water 10
      Baking time Approx 60-80 mins at 180ºC (Fan oven160ºC)


  14. Hi. I am going to try your 10″ inch Madeira cake recipe, but if I want it to rise to just above the rim of the tin (so that I can slice the top off to make it flat), do I need to bake it in a 9″ tin? And also, what depth should the tin be? Any help will be much appreciated as I am making a birthday cake for a friend and am dreading it all going wrong! Thanks in anticipation! :0)

    • Hi Dee,

      I’m sure it won’t all go wrong. I haven’t baked a 10″ cake in a 9″ tin but I think you would get the result you need (plus a bit to taste at the same time!) My tins are all around 3″ deep and that is what my cake mix amounts should bake.

      I hope that helps


      • Hi! Well in the end I followed your instructions to make the 9″ cake. It turned out brilliantly! It rose right to the top of the tin so its a lovely height. It took longer to bake than stated but my oven is temperamental! I am so pleased and shall always use your recipe from now on. Thankyou!

  15. Hi Emma
    I use your recipe for the Madeira cake all the time using your chart for round cakes, which always come out beautifully. Do you have a chart for square cakes now?
    Many many thanks

  16. Hi Emma,

    How can I tell whether my oven is fan assisted? I normally bake 8″ cakes at 180C but I have to make a 12″ cake for the weekend and wanted to use your recipe for Madeira Cake. You have put 170C (150C for fan) and I’m now confused. There is a fan at the back of my oven but I’ve never baked below 170C. My oven has never really let me down (unless I’ve accidentally opened the oven door, my fault totally!). Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.


    • Just wanted to add, I trialed your recipe last night for a 7″ cake and it came out beautiful! The cooking time took forever though, not the 40 mins you recommended. I put it at 150C (because of the fan) and it took about 105 mins. Which was fine because you said that after 30 mins the cake won’t sink, so I checked it after 40, then again after 20, then 15, then a final 15 and it was done. The texture is so soft but so dense. I’m anxious about the 12″ cake, but I’m confident it will take around 2.5 hours. I’m going to bake it on Friday morning and decorate it the same day, ready for Saturday. Your advice on here is really helpful, especially for people just starting up their cake business, like me 🙂

      • Hello,

        Thanks for your comment. I’ve had a few people tell me about the baking times so I am in the process of re-testing the times on ALL the cakes. It’s taking a while and is adding many inches onto my hips!!! but as soon as I’m happy with the results I’ll make amendments to the chart.

        Thanks so much for your kind words


    • Hello again!,

      On my oven there are two separate signs. One is a square with lines and the other is a square with lines with a fan symbol inside. I imagine that if there is a fan in the oven then you have that opportunity. I would say you know your oven and to go with what you feel has worked before. I prefer to bake without the fan as cakes bake slower and more evenly. I used to get a lot of burnt crusts when I used my fan oven (having said that it cooks up a pizza perfectly with the fan!)

      I hope that helps


  17. Hi. I need to make a 12″ square Madeira cake and getting confused with what quantities to make so could you please advise? Also this would serve 50-60 people for a birthday party wouldnt it? I have been building on my cake repetoire for a while now but this will be the biggest cake i have made yet! Thanks!

    • Hello,

      Do you know what volume your cake tin holds? If you can let me know I can work out the measurements for you or you can see if it’s close to one of the recipes on this post here.

      When baking big cakes I always wrap my tin in paper so the outside doesn’t bake before the inside. It’s a fab tip. Also, you can cover the cake with a piece of baking paper with a hole cut in the middle (for the first hour) so that it doesn’t dome too much.

      Hope that helps


      • Hi Emma
        Thank you so much for the quick response!
        I am actually hiring a tin however I shall measure the volume once I have it and hopefully it will be close to one of the recipes. That’s a great tip about the paper, thanks!
        I have only recently come across your blog but I love it! I have always baked but in the last year or so I have started making more cakes for celebrations and all your tips are greatly appreciated to a novice like me! This is my first cake for a ‘customer’ so hopefully it will turn out ok
        Nicola x

      • Hi
        I measured the volume and it’s at least 5000ml so what would u recommend? That’s with the water going just over half way and the tins 4″ deep. I did wonder 6000ml but I think that’s a bit too much? Thanks x

  18. Hi Emma,

    Just wanted to let you know that I baked the 12″ round cake following your Madeira cake recipe to a T and it came out absolutely perfect. I followed all of your tips and tricks (wrapping the outside of the tin in baking paper, scoop & bake etc). I’m so so pleased and will be keeping your table of quantities for different sized tins on hand always. I just had another question, do you have any recipes for a fresh cream cake? I know they should be more spongier and not as dense as a Madeira cake. I have just received an order to make two 12″ fresh cream cakes (one round and one square) so needed a foolproof recipe to follow.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Many thanks.

  19. I have followed the recipe for the 10inch and the mixture is overflowing in the oven, a lot! Why. And will the cake be ok.

    • Hello, Sorry your comment seems to have slipped through the net so apologies for the tardy reply.

      Usually when a cake goes over the top of the tin it’s due to the oven temperature being too hot and the cake mix boils rather than bakes. This is even more true if you have the fan on for some reason. You can still eat this cake but it tends to be a bit dry and not the moist consistency it should be.
      I must say that I have made this cake a lot and I’ve never had it spill over the top but I know my oven is temperamental and has been since new. I never trust my dials I always use the thermometer inside the oven.

      I hope this is of help for future bakes


  20. Hi, i made your Madeira Cake yesterday as I bump into your blog. I gave it a try and bake it yesterday. Its the best madeira cake I ever baked! So yummy and fluffy. Did not dome and rise well on my Wilton 8 inches round pan. I brought some to work and they said ” Where did I get the recipe because its so yummy good really “. It will be my go recipe from now on. Thanks a lot for your recipe.

    • Hello,

      You can use the regular 12″ Madeira cake recipe seen on this page and instead of using the vanilla essence swap it for the juice and zest of two unwaxed lemons. I also flavour my buttercream with the juice and zest of a lemon for this cake. It’s light and tasty.

      Hope that helps


  21. Hi I want to make cake in a 10 x 8 inch tin wot recipe would I use for tin size ?
    Thanks Tracey

  22. Hi!
    I am making a birthday cake for a friend in a 14 inch round tin. Thought of Victoria sponge,but Madeira might be better. Any thoughts? Also what measurements in ingredients would suit a 14″ and oven temperature,please!

    • Hello,

      Victoria Sponge cake is fine for larger cakes but it doesn’t take to decorating or stacking as well as a Madeira cake. Madeira is more firm and also lasts a lot longer.

      Here you go…

      14” cake

      310g butter
      310g Margarine
      830g caster sugar
      4 ½ tea spoon vanilla essence
      13 eggs
      930g plain flour
      6 ½ teasp of baking powder
      12 ½ tbsp hot water

      Bake at 180ºC(160º Fan) for 140-150 minute

      I don’t have a tin this big (nor an oven that it will fit in for that matter!) so I have estimated that the cake will need up to another 20 minutes in the oven but you will need to keep a beady eye on it to check. There are lots of ways to check that your cake is done. Recently I have gone by timing it and waiting till my kitchen smells of the cake. That’s a good indicator.

      I also wrap large cake tins in a few sheets of newspaper tied in place with natural string. It slows down the baking on the outer edge of the cake so it doesn’t bake before the inside is done. I also place a piece of grease proof paper lightly over the top of the cake with a slit cut in the top while it is baking. This stops the cake from rising too much, doming and cracking.

      I hope that helps


  23. Hi Emma, I am going to be making my own wedding cake and have just done my first practice run on a 10″ round 4″ deep tin…ok, this was a Vic sponge, and my first ever sponge, not the greatest start, so will swap to trying Madeira,
    What are the quantities for the 10″ round and 4 ” deep tin.

    • Hi Dom,

      That’s so cool that you are making your own wedding cake. Hat’s off to you!

      You can find the recipe for different size Madeira cakes on this post here. What you need to do is measure the volume of water your cake tin will hold and find the relevant cake on the chart. Let me know if there isn’t a close volume amount and I’ll work it out for you.

      Good luck and keep me posted. I’d love to see the finished result. Feel free to post it over on the Facebook page.


  24. Hi Emma,

    I’m a little confused with the volumes you’ve given in the chart for the sizes of your tins as I have worked out the same sizes but got a different volume in ml. (e.g. you measure your 12″ tin for a 3″ deep cake as 4500ml but I work out the same to be roughly 5300ml), so can I ask you to describe exactly how you work out the volume of your tin please so I can use exactly the same method on mine and therefore get an accurate comparison to your recipes?!

    The other thing is, I would like my cake to rise slightly over the top of my cake tin so I can level the cake before removing from the tin – do the ingredient measurements you provide allow for this or would I need to compensate to achieve this?

    I’d hugely appreciate a response to this as if I can get this figured out your website will be an absolute godsend for tons of my baking needs 🙂 thank you for the time and effort you have put into this already and I hope to hear from you 🙂

    In case it helps, I am trying to make:
    12″ round tin which is 3.5″ deep (lemon Madeira)
    9″ round tin which is 3.3″ deep (chocolate Madeira)
    6″ round tin which is 2.5″ deep (Madeira)
    As I said, preferably I’d want them to rise slightly above the tin to level them.

    Thank you so much,

    • Hello,

      Funny you should ask that. I’ve just written a post on exactly that. I just need to take some photos to go with it!

      The first step is to line your tin if it has a loose bottom. I use bin bags – the ones with no holes in!
      Then I add 1 litre at a time till I am 1-2cm from the top of the cake tin.
      Write it down or do a tally chart as you go so you don’t loose count. When in doubt go less water than more. I have found that less cake mix results in a taller, lighter cake.
      Tip out the water and check the volume against the chart.

      My cakes don’t go above the line of the tin. I measure 1-2cm below as I have found that measuring the water to the top of the tin ends with a big dome or an overflowing cake. I have tried to push the cake mix up the sides of the tin; leaving a dip in the middle when I bake the cake but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. I aim for a flat cake.

      Hope this helps


  25. Hi Emma, I must say there is loads of info here and I’m really grateful for it.I have been making cakes for my grandchildren birthdays for more years than I care to mention, but I always make Victoria sponge recipe, but now I’m making one for a 60th birthday party for my sister,so I need it to look profession as possible.can you tell me why it’s baked in one tin and also why 3inch high is the highest you advocate,only I feel like I want it to be cakes 2inch in height and baked in 2 tins,just wonders with your experience if you know of the draw back would be.again many thanks for all your time saving trials ,it is much appreciated.


    • Hi Jan,

      The main reason I bake Madeira cake in one tin is because of all the different size tins needed on different occasions. I only have one tin for most sizes. I have about five 8″ tins so I can split the cake mix then but in general it all has to go into one tin. My tins are 3″ tall and that’s what most people want for a celebration cake. Any smaller and the cake looks a bit lacking so baking twice to have a 4″ tall cake is a great idea.

      Hope that helps


  26. I note ur comments about either baking one cake and cutting in two or splitting the mixture and baking two- which is better/easier.

    • Hello,

      It’s all a matter of personal preference and how many cake tins you own! Most people only have one cake tin that’s 10″ so you need to bake one cake to slice in half. I opt for baking in individual cake tins wherever possible just because it saves on baking time – and I can’t cut straight!

      I hope that helps


  27. hello Emma can you please help me I have 13 inch baking pan it holds 6 litres and 700ml I need know how much mixture is needed to bake my wedding cake. please

    • Hello,

      So sorry your message had slipped through the net. Do you still need this recipe or are you sorted? It sounds massive. I don’t think your tin would fit inside my oven!


  28. Hi Emma, your Madeira cake recipe is fabulous. Thank you. I shall be making a wedding cake using your recipe and wondered if the texture would be slightly lighter if I split the mixture between tins. If so would I use bake timings similar to a Victoria sponge . Many thanks

    • Hello, it would be lighter and taller probably. It’s hard to guess the timings. I’d say keep an eye on it. Once you can smell the cake it’s safe to open the oven door and check it.

      Hope that helps


  29. Hello Emma, I tried your 8 inch Maderia cake and it rose to 31/2 inch high. Am please with the result. I subsistuted Orange juice instead of hot water & added I Orange zest to it.

    • Ooooh that sounds delish. You could also make orange flavoured sugar syrup! Sounds delish


  30. Hi,,ive tried this recipe and this what ive been looking for, cake is tall and simple method too..thank you….does this conversion work with other recipe too..tnx

    • Hello,

      So glad you like this cake. Yes the conversion should work with other recipes. It’s a maths formula after all but I haven’t actually tried it as I only ever need to adapt for Madeira cake.

      Let me know how you get on if you do adapt another recipe. I’d love to know how it turns out.

    • Hello,

      Sorry, I haven’t made Red velvet cake. That’s one to add to the list!


  31. I have made your Madeira cake three. First time it was a 3 tier cake 6 8 10 inch round. I was so worried as I hadn’t tried the texture of your cake before but it turned out perfect. I wrapped the cake tin in wet towels to mimic the Wilton foil thing that allows lighter edges and an even bake and then I baked one 10 inch for my daughters first birthday and an 8 inch for a friend’s graduation party. I’m planning on making a 10 inch for a friends son’s birthday!
    It is such a lovely cake! Amazing texture and flavour it is dense but not heavy. Almost like a contradiction dense yet light!
    It is my favourite cake recipe! I’ll may be one day venture into making the chocolate one but this one is just perfect!
    Thanks for all your hardwork. I made my own wedding cake 2years ago and I wish I had your recipe then!

    • Ah thanks Wendy, such a lovely comment. Makes my day!

      Keep up the baking.


  32. Hi there, I’m finding your sight really helpful but I need some advise, this will be my first ever attempt at baking a Madeira cake…. And was just wandering what kind of tin you used and how deep it is? Thanks!!

    • Hello Hollie,

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I use strong cake tins. I prefer ones with solid bottoms as they bake better and I use silicon paper to line my tins so I never have a problem getting the cake out. I have been baking for a while now so I have quite a collection. I bake a lot of size 8″ so I have a few of them. My favorite brands change all the time but at the moment I really like the Mich Turner range

      All of my tins are at least 3″ deep, unless they’re a sandwich tin in which case I have a few so my cake will come out bigger.

      I hope that helps

      Happy baking


    • Hello,

      Yes you can but it won’t taste as good as when you use butter too. I tested this out a few years ago and it wasn’t a hit. All butter isn’t as nice either.

      All marg will give you a nice light cake though!

      Happy baking


  33. Hi I was just wondering if you can do the 10in recipe and cook in 2 tins instead of one tin Louisa x

    • Hello,

      Yes that will work really well. You’ll also get a taller, lighter cake. I’m not sure of the timings so keep a beady eye on the cakes after arounf 40-50 minutes.

      Happy baking


  34. Hi Emma,
    I’m new to your page so here goes, l have a 10″ round tin 5″ deep what’s the best measurements for the maderia cake mixture. Loving the advice and questions very helpful. Lorraine

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