Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Cake Decorating 101 - Part 4: Stacking Cakes

The biggest cake I've ever made was for my cousin's wedding last June.  Without the correct support it wouldn't have made it out of the house let alone through the car ride and delivery to the venue!

The cake I made for my cousin's wedding.

When you're making a cake with more than one level (tier) I would highly recommend that you use the correct support structure.  Otherwise, you run the risk of having cakes that get squished, stop being level, or topple when you move them.  Each cake should be on a separate cake board and every tier (other than the top) should be dowelled. 

Cake boards are available at cake decorating stores (including Michaels in the cake decorating section) or you can make your own by tracing your cake pan on a piece of cardboard and then I would suggest wrapping it tightly in tinfoil to make sure your cake has a clean surface to sit on.

Thin cake boards
For more professional looking cakes and to create a strong base that you can carry/move, the bottom tier of your cake should be on a thicker (1/2") cake board that's at least 2" wider in diameter than the cake that's sitting on it which gives it an extra 1" around the base of the cake.

1/2" cake board
Here's a cross-section view of a support system that I found on countrykitchensa.com.  Notice the thick cake board on the bottom, the dowels in the bottom tier, the thin cake board under the second cake and the dowels and then the cake board under the top tier.  The top tier doesn't need any dowels because nothing is sitting on top of it.

In terms of the number of dowels shown in the image above, I personally think it's a little overkill but it will definitely make sure your cake is stable!  When I've stacked my cakes, I generally use 4 dowels like the image below which shows a middle and top tier and 5 dowels in the bottom making sure there's one right in the middle of the cake.  Also, instead of wood or plastic dowels I use sturdy plastic straws because they're easy to cut and available at the grocery store which reduces the number of stops I have to make with two little ones. 


Here's a video from Epicurious that shows how to dowel and stack a three tier cake covered in buttercream (sorry I wasn't able to embed the video).   She doesn't have cake boards under the two stacked tiers which allows her to run a thick long dowel from the top of the cake down through the centre all the way down to the bottom as the final step.  This isn't my preference, but it shows another way to create structural support.

Up Next: Part 5: Basic Decorating Techniques

- Jacs

1 comment: