indydebi Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 3:35am
post #1 of

THere have been lots of threads and discussions on how to cut dowels; the debate being should each dowel be measured and cut separately .... meaning should you insert 4 dowels into the cake and mark the height on each and then cut each one to their mark? Or should one dowel be used to measure and all other dowels be cut the same size as that one .... meaning one dowel is inserted into the cake, measured and marked, then all 4 dowels are cut to that same length.

On the cake I made this past weekend, I had a real low point in the cake. I do the "insert one and use it to measure all" system and when I put the 4 cut dowels into the cake, one of them stood about 1/4" taller than the others. Now 1/4" is a lot of height when wanting to make sure a cake is level, so I took a plastic plate and set it on top of the dowels and check the level.....it was perfect! So I thought this would be a good example to photograph and share.

The 2nd pic (sorry....I added them in the wrong order!) is the photo showing the dowels sticking up out of the cake at different heights. The dowels are the same size ... .it's the cake that has low points.

The 1st photo is the finished cake ... all tiers perfectly level.

Had I measured, marked and cut each dowel separately, my cake would have leaned and not been level.

Before leahs reminds me of the SPS system, allow me to say for the record that when I convert to SPS, I won't have to worry about doing this! icon_wink.gif

Oops! Edited to add the photos!
LL
LL

29 replies
Letmebeurdesignr Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 3:42am
post #2 of

wheres the pics? and what is SPS?

indydebi Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 3:46am
post #3 of

I had to edit to add the pics (hit the Submit button instead of the Add Attachment button!). then I had to reduce the size of the pics before I could add them. Good thing I'm a little more organized when I actually MAKE the cakes! icon_redface.gificon_redface.gif

Here's a thread where leahs explains SPS: http://forum.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-383553-dowel.html

kidsnurse Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 3:56am
post #4 of

I learned this lesson the hard way...

Beeeauteeeful cake Debi!

debster Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 3:57am
post #5 of

How would this of worked if you measured it from a high point and it was lower around the edge where the plate sat? Would if of made a gap? Thanks........................... I usually measure each one individually, I think this would work better.

indydebi Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 4:41am
post #6 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by debster

How would this of worked if you measured it from a high point and it was lower around the edge where the plate sat? Would if of made a gap? Thanks........................... I usually measure each one individually, I think this would work better.




Actually, I did measure from the high point ... the one I measured by is the front left one. The cake was higher there and I cut the dowel even with the cake. The other dowels are in lower points of the cake, which is why they stick up.

If I had measured each one individually, the one in the back right would have been 1/4" shorter than it should have been. When I sat the cake on top of these 4, then the back right corner would have leaned by 1/4". A small discrepancy of only 1/4" on a lower tier results in the higher tiers looking like they are leaning even more.

Unless you know that your CAKE is perfectly level, I don't see how measuring/cutting each one can work. icon_confused.gif In this example, the front right dowel is (for example) 4.25" tall. Had I done each one individually, the back right one would have been only 4.00" tall. No way a cake can be level with those kind of measurements.

Deana Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 4:48am
post #7 of

what if the one you chose to measure and cut the others against was the one in the low point of the cake.. then all the others would be very very short and mooch the cake down?

should I mark all of them and them cut against the tallest?

indydebi Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 4:50am
post #8 of

Yes, it would. I've done that and when I saw how far down the dowels were in the cake, I've re-cut them, using the high point as the point of reference.

Carson Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 4:55am
post #9 of

Ok - so you are saying to measure one dowel in the cake and then cut all the rest the EXACT same height as the dowel you measured in the cake? icon_redface.gif I'm sorry, I just got confused!! This is how I do it, on a wedding cake it left a lot of space in the back but it was easy to cover up with a border. So if this is the way to go - should the first dowel be measured in the high or low part of the cake?

I'm going back to read through the thread again - maybe I will get it this time! LOL icon_lol.gif

Carson Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 5:01am

So as I was typing it looks like my questions were answered! Thanks, I was doing it correctly - I was worried for a minute!LOL!

Your cake looks beautiful!

And yes, I too am looking into the SPS system!

marthajo1 Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 5:02am

THANK YOU FOR THIS!!! I had a lot of problem with a cake recently because of this! But I didn't know what I did wrong! I had checked the level of each layer and the cake still was leaning! It was probably because of this!! I will try your way next time debi!! Yeah!

indydebi Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 5:05am

Since I had a border on this one (and it can be done with ribbon-border-bases, too), it was easy to fill the small gap with the border. Much better to fill in a border than to try to fix a leaning cake. thumbs_up.gif

Carson....ideally, of course, would be to try to get them as close to the level of the icing as possible. On some, I've had them "slightly" below the surface with one "slightly" above the surface. The slightly-below one allowed the cake to settle "into" the cake by a 1/8" or 1/4" or so, but nothing that damaged the cake or the look.

This one was SUCH a difference in height that it caught my attention and when I check the level and found it was perfect, I thought it was be a good pictorial example of this topic, since it is brought up and asked so frequently.

alanahodgson Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 12:42pm

Oh! that was what I forgot to add to my "Things I learned" post!! On my initial attempts my second, third, etc. dowels were coming out too short. Then I realized how important the position of the saw blade was and that I had to allow for the width of the saw blade. I couldn't place my blade right on the marked line or the width of the saw would cut it too short. I had to place my blade just to the (long) side of the line. If they were a smidge too long, I could sand them down so they were level with the first dowel by rubbing them on a sanding block. On the cake I did this weekend the dowels were level, but the cake wasnt, just like indydebi's original post. I just used the high side as the front. If there was a gap it was covered with my border.

Mencked Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 12:54pm

I've learned to keep a seam gauge (sewing tool) in my cake stuff drawer to use when I will be inserting dowels into a stacked cake. I insert the gauge in all four corners of the cake, or in 4 seperate places on a round cake and then cut my dowels to the height of the lowest measurement. I also use pruning shears to cut my dowel rods--works great and easier to get uniform cuts on the dowels!

JanH Posted 31 Jul 2007 , 8:51pm

Wow, another great help thread, indydebi. icon_biggrin.gif

Will be adding this to my list of "keepers"! icon_cool.gif

Thanks all, this info will be very helpful to a lot of members. thumbs_up.gif

igurbisz Posted 13 Aug 2007 , 8:21pm

Thanks for posting. This is so helpful especially with the pictures.

icon_biggrin.gif

Katskakes Posted 22 Aug 2007 , 3:59pm

thanks for posting this!! This is how my wilton teacher thought us to do it too. Measuring by the highest point.

projectqueen Posted 22 Aug 2007 , 5:24pm

I did this once when my cake was not level and the top of the 2 tier cake slid off on transport. I think it was because the cake was only resting on the top of the dowel that was sticking up instead of sitting on the cake.

Now I cut them all to the LOWEST height and let the top cake push down into the bottom cake a little bit. It has never made the bottom cake look smooshed and I feel much more secure knowing the cake is sitting on top of another cake and not suspended mid-air. (Of course, my cake probably had a far greater height discrepancy than the one in your photo icon_redface.gif) I guess it would also depend on whether you were transporting or assembling on site.

Just my 2 cents.

Anyway, it's a beautiful cake! thumbs_up.gif

indydebi Posted 22 Aug 2007 , 5:27pm

I never transport assembled.

projectqueen, others will want to know if you do anything special to prevent your icing from sticking to the top tier when it is removed. My plates come in contact with the icing, but it's a crusting bc so it doens't stick to the plate.

spoiledbyneil Posted 22 Aug 2007 , 5:47pm

thanks for the advice!

famousamous Posted 22 Aug 2007 , 6:58pm

This post clears up sooo much confusion about tiers for me! Thanks! thumbs_up.gif

projectqueen Posted 22 Aug 2007 , 7:00pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

I never transport assembled.

projectqueen, others will want to know if you do anything special to prevent your icing from sticking to the top tier when it is removed. My plates come in contact with the icing, but it's a crusting bc so it doens't stick to the plate.




That's what I was thinking, too, indydebi. If you assemble on site your advice would work out perfectly. But if anyone transports assembled (I do for 2-tiers), then it could be a bit risky, or at least it was in my case. I supposed a well placed center dowel or two would also solve the problem.

As far as putting tiers on top of each other, I have only used a crusting buttercream and done stacked cakes, never anything with pillars or separator plates so I really couldn't say about those. When I stack I just use a cardboard cake round the size of the cake above and cover with the Saran press n seal and place on top of my crusted bc and never have any sticking problem.

In any case, making all dowels the same height as you suggested (whether high, low or in between) is a great way to avoid a leaning cake.

LittleLinda Posted 14 Apr 2008 , 12:59am

Indydebi, the cake is gorgeous!
alanahodgson, you made a great point about the width of the saw blade making a difference

Do you think that straws are easier to work with than dowel rods to get everything even?

tonedna Posted 14 Apr 2008 , 1:07am

Sometimes when that hapens to me is a matter of fixing the icing so is all level....Good thread Indydeby icon_biggrin.gif

cakebaker1957 Posted 14 Apr 2008 , 1:28am

indydeb your cake is awesome i have a question about what its sitting on is that foamcore?? and if so did you cover it or leave it like it was, im making a square cake for May 3 and want to sit it on something about that size , i know this is not a question about the dowel rods, but i thought i might jump in and ask you this . Thanks

dkjlbh Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 7:04pm

I am just beginning to make wedding cakes and wondered as you are talking about dowels if you'd go the next step. How do you carefully put the tiers on a stacking cake so as to not mess up the recieving cake's icing. I tryed to put them together by holding it in my hands placing the 2nd layer on the recieving cake and pull my hands out, only along with my hands comes icing from the first layer. Any ideas?

Ruby2uesday Posted 5 Jul 2008 , 8:54pm

Thanks indydeb for this post!! It really helped me out with my first tiered cake and i did exactly how you said to do it. worked wonderfully!!! icon_smile.gif

mcdonald Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 2:35pm

what a great thread this is.... thank you for all the great info!!

sweettoothmom1 Posted 16 Jul 2009 , 3:21am

oh, this just opens another ton of doweling questions....when do u use a center dowel? only if 3 tiers or higher? is it only necessary if transporting already stacked? if u add a center dowel on a nice fondant, what do u do to hide it on the top tier. if u have several tiers, how do u secure the center dowel to the base. I never can see that on the cake shows. its usually a hollow pvc, so how do they screw it down?

__Jamie__ Posted 16 Jul 2009 , 3:59am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mencked

I've learned to keep a seam gauge (sewing tool) in my cake stuff drawer to use when I will be inserting dowels into a stacked cake. I insert the gauge in all four corners of the cake, or in 4 seperate places on a round cake and then cut my dowels to the height of the lowest measurement. I also use pruning shears to cut my dowel rods--works great and easier to get uniform cuts on the dowels!





I never ever do any stacking without first using my trusty sewing ruler. Such a handy inexpensive tool!

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