How to make a number cake

Number cakes are layer cakes that are shaped like a number. This tutorial here shows you how to make a two layer number cake that you can decorate with flowers, cookies, and candies. One cake will serve about 6-9 people; two about 12-18.

As a home baker, I didn't find any purpose in buying a special number pan that I'd probably only use once. My number cakes can be made using printable paper templates (located at the bottom of this post).

All you have to do is print out the number you need, cut them out, and then place them directly on sheets of cake. Use a small paring knife to trace around the number. Your cakes are now ready to fill, stack, and decorate.

If you're trying to make a letter cake, check out my post here, which contains the instructions and letter templates.

If you want to watch how I put a number cake together, here's a video tutorial on a lemon blueberry "2" cake.

How to make a number cake

To make this cake, you're going to need a cake baked in a half sheet pan. The tutorial above shows you how to do exactly that and you can bake most cake recipes this way. (I say "most" because it's hard to do angel food cakes and probably European style cakes such as genoise, so try to stick with butter/oil cakes leavened with baking powder/baking soda. Or you can just use any cake in my Cakeculator, here.)

For one cake, you will need a platter, cake drum, or cake board that is at least 10" by 14". Here are some amazon links to common cake boards that I use for this project:

➡️ 10 x 14 inch Cake Drum
➡️ 10x 14 inch cake board

This is how one letter will look on a standard 10 x 14 inch cake board.

What about two numbers on one board?

If you would like to place two numbers on one cake board, you will need a platter that is at least 19" by 13", this cake drum, or this cake board.

Two cake letters on a single board.

How to decorate a number cake

You can use almost any frosting to fill and top this cake. It will largely depend on your preferences and how you plan to store the cake. The buttercreams listed in my Cakeculator (Swiss meringue, condensed milk, etc.) will be the most stable. That means they'll easily hold up the cake and heavy toppings if you like.

If you prefer lighter frostings such as whipped creams, you'll have to chill the cake, which will also help with stability. You'll probably want to stabilize the whipped cream in some sort of way and I have a whole video on different methods. Any of them should work fine to stabilize the whipped cream enough to hold up the second layer as well as decorations. (see video on whipped cream stabilizers here.)

As for the decorations - I've seen cookies (macarons are popular), fruit, flowers, and all types of candy. If there's a theme or flavor that you're aiming for, this is the area where you can be really creative.

How many servings is in a number cake?

It will depend on the number that you choose. For instance a number "1" is going to have less servings than an "8". If you look at the number "2" I did in the lemon blueberry cake video above, that cake should give around 8-10 servings of cake. Generally speaking though, I think serving 6-9 adults with one number is a safe bet.

If you have extra ingredients on top, like cookies or more fruit, you may be able to serve more people with smaller (but more substantial) slices.

Do number cakes dry out?

Number cakes are what I would classify as a naked cake. By that I mean that the sides are completely exposed. Naked cakes have a special consideration in that because the cake is continually exposed to air, you run the risk of a drying out the cake.

So dry cakes are typically caused by a couple things - starch retrogradation (which I will get into the science of in another post) and moisture loss, which is what I'll address right now.

Theres a couple things I do to prevent moisture loss. The easiest thing is that I usually make these cakes the day that I'm going to serve them. Even if I bake the sheet cakes the day before, they are wrapped in plastic and saved on my counter top. Then the day I need it, I cut, fill, stack, and decorate.

I know that's not always possible, so you can try using a simple syrup. Heat equal parts sugar and water until it comes to a boil and all the sugar has dissolved. You can add extracts or other flavorings, but that's a general way to make a syrup. Then, during assembly, you can brush the syrup onto your cakes.

How to print your numbers

Each of the numbers print out onto a single 8.5x11" sheet of paper. (This is standard sized printer paper - so no need to purchase special paper).

Click on any of the buttons below to generate a free printable numbers for your cakes and tarts.

Meet Adriana

Hello, I'm Adriana, a science and tech nerd that loves to create helpful resources for home bakers. This is home the Cakeculator and a recipe repository for all my baking vids you find on YouTube/Tiktok/Instagram. Hope you have fun around here!

More about me.

I'm gearing up for a newsletter, sign up here to be the first to know :)

Awesome! You're on my list!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.