Layers Not Even And Cake Layer Started To Slide Off...

Decorating By MessiET Updated 3 Nov 2007 , 5:36pm by GI

MessiET Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 8:56pm
post #1 of 21

I made this cake for my in-law's 50th wedding anniversary. I baked the layers and froze them. I defrosted on Thursday evening. Torted, filled and iced the layers on Friday. I placed the 6" on top of the 8", and placed the 12" on top of the 16" layer on Friday as well. Saturday morning, the day of the party, I noticed that the 12" layer had slipped about 1/4" (you could see a small gap at the bottom). I figured I would just add some extra border and did not give it much thought. About an hour later I noticed that the gap was getting wider. In looking at the cakes, I could tell that the cake on the bottom was uneven... I did not see this on Friday when I iced them. I thought they looked straight. Well, after adding a few extra dowels, my husband and I decided to prop the low end of the board a little to stop the cake from shifting.

I had originally placed dowels on the bottom cake and one dowel going through the cake on top of it. The dowels on the bottom cake were all the same size...

I am looking for your expertise so that I don't have this problem in the future...

You can see in the picture that my layers are not straight... Do you check your cakes with a level before frosting them? I baked my cakes using bake even strips and then 'flattened' the tops when they came out of the oven. What am I doing wrong ? icon_cry.gificon_cry.gif Seems like my stacked cakes are always leaning!!!

Here is a picture of the finished cake:

http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1153957

20 replies
debster Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 9:11pm
post #2 of 21

You just doweled the bottom tier? You have to dowel each tier. If that's the case that's why it shifted. Even having a center dowel won't help if each layer isn't supporting the previous one. I hope I understood you right. HTH

Also double your cake boards , I hot glue mine together so they don't shift off each other. I'm old school, I make my cakes , dowel them then put them one on top each other starting from the bottom up on site.

MessiET Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 9:14pm
post #3 of 21

I put dowels on all the tiers... and then a sharpened dowel going through the layers.

GI Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 9:16pm
post #4 of 21

If I read your post, did you use boards under each layer and then dowel each board? And did you have your dowels just a hair about the frosting line so they are resting independently of each other? And then you ran a dowel up thru all layers?

Another issue I've read here is too much filling in between the layers can cause sliding?

I have never made a cake like yours, but that is what I'm gathering from all the threads I've read. Also, the dowels have to be dead-on correct height to keep it all from toppling.

I hope this helps you! I've just made 1 stacked cake (the house cake in my pix) and I forgot to put in the dowels underneath the house-cake board. icon_confused.gif Kept sliding on one edge of the cake. I was so worried to put the dowels thru the whole cake, that I just forgot the little short ones.

I looked at your cake. It is pretty. How special for in-laws to have a cake made by their daughter-in-law. And more special for a couple to have their cake topper after 50 years! Pretty cool. icon_smile.gif

edited to add: This post crossed-with the others. I wonder if your boards were not heavy enough to support the weight?

GI Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 9:21pm
post #5 of 21

You know, from the photo, it looks like the edges of your cakes are sloping. I'm wondering if there was a crown (hump) that you didn't see?

MessiET Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 9:22pm
post #6 of 21

Yes, all the cakes were on boards... I also used very little filling between layers. I cut the dowels right at the frosting line... My in-laws were very happy with the cake and it tasted terrific. I just wished it had not looked to crooked icon_sad.gif

MessiET Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 9:35pm
post #7 of 21

I think that debster's advice is good. I will be assembling all my layers on site. I was praying all the way to the reception hall that the top layer would not slide all the way off the cake on the way there. It did slide some and knocked off some of the roses (which I was able to salvage since they had already crusted).

beachcakes Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 11:01pm
post #8 of 21

Aww! The cake is pretty; I'm sure they loved it!

You asked about leveling - I don't use the press-down method, but I do use a small torpedo level to make sure the layers are level. It's extremely difficult to eyeball it. You can get them at the hardware store for a few bucks - definitely worth it!

beachcakes Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 11:32pm
post #9 of 21

Aww! The cake is pretty; I'm sure they loved it!

You asked about leveling - I don't use the press-down method, but I do use a small torpedo level to make sure the layers are level. It's extremely difficult to eyeball it. You can get them at the hardware store for a few bucks - definitely worth it!

indydebi Posted 28 Oct 2007 , 11:43pm
post #10 of 21

I've used the push-down method and I'm not a fan. It may be fine if you're doing a one-layer sheet cake, but for a 4-tier stacked cake, I want to know that those cakes are FLAT. I can see some definite slope on the cakes.

However, if your doweling system is set up properly, it shouldn't matter because the cakes should rest on the dowels and not on the cake. icon_confused.gif

When you cut the cake, did you notice if the dowels were still straight or had they shifted?

Since you torted the cakes, I'm still a little suspect on the filling, even tho' you said you didn't use a lot. When torting, I spread the filling less than 1/4" deep .... not the same amount that you'd use between just 2 layers of cake.

To illustrate: A layer of cake is 2". If I just put filling between 2 layers of cake, my dam in about 3/8" to 1/2" and the filling is less than that. So the filling is less than 25% of the height of the cake.

When a 2" cake is torted, the cake layers are 1". If you use the same ratio, then the filling should be less than 25% of the cake height, or less than 1/4".

justme50 Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 12:08am
post #11 of 21

From the pic I can see a couple of things that might be your problem

First, it really looks like it may be that your dowels weren't all the exact same height starting with the second layer and when you stack cakes, the lean gets worse the higher you stack. It may be that some were sitting higher than others, but more likely it seems that you may have had some too short and it let the tiers rest on the cake below them.

Secondly, your corners are sloping. I don't use the press down method, ever. I don't like the way it changes the texture of the cake first of all and secondly, the cake tends to want to spring back slowly over time.

I use baking strips to help the cake bake level, but I've never stacked a cake that I didn't level it by cutting the top off to some degree. That's the only way I know of to be sure those pesky corners are all level.


The only other tip I use is that I fill and crumb coat, then ice the next day. Cakes always seem to settle some and if it's going to go wacky on me and get uneven, I'll know it before I do the final icing and stacking.

It's a beautiful cake though, I'm sure they were thrilled with it!

dljc Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 12:08am
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MessiET

I cut the dowels right at the frosting line...




Were they all cut to the frosting line or were they all the same height? The key is to have all of them cut to the same height . . . If they are cut to the frosting height and the cake isn't level, then the next cake board is going to follow that same slope and start to slide. Does that make sense?

Any way, the cake decorations looked great and I'm glad they liked it.

Debbie thumbs_up.gif

indydebi Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 12:22am
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by DLJC

Quote:
Originally Posted by MessiET

I cut the dowels right at the frosting line...



Were they all cut to the frosting line or were they all the same height? The key is to have all of them cut to the same height . . . If they are cut to the frosting height and the cake isn't level, then the next cake board is going to follow that same slope and start to slide.




Excellent point!

Here's a link where I have some photos illustrating what DLJC is talking about: http://forum.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-434013-dowels.html

MessiET Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 2:09am
post #14 of 21

Thank you all for your replies and excellent suggestions. I hope that by following your advice I can get my next stacked cake looking great thumbs_up.gif

I have one more question:

If you fill and crumb coat and then ice the next day, how early do you start your cakes for a Saturday wedding? I was just worried about the cake sitting out for too long. Should I have torted, filled and crumb coated on Thursday, decorate on Friday, put together on Saturday?

chaptlps Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 2:30am
post #15 of 21

K, I have a question. Did you cut the dowels after you put them in the cake? Or did you put in one dowel to guage the length and cut them all exactly the same?
If you just insert the dowels into the cake and cut them off at the frosting level you might end up as you did with a wobbly cake. But, if you measure one dowel and cut all the rest the same length as the first one (each layer will be different) then your next cake up will be resting on a level surface. (all the dowels are exactly the same length).
Just wondering how you did that.
K, another little something that's always helped me, whether it's framing a house or icing a cake. I get down and have the cake at eye level and look across it. Divots, holes and sloping edges are really visible if you do that. If you have trouble gauging what is straight or not. Get a piece of paper or cardboard with a straight edge and hold it behind whatever you are looking at and if it's not level it will really show up that way. I dunno, that's just how I would look at things. But then again, I can tell if something isn't plumb just by looking at it.

MessiET Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 2:52am
post #16 of 21

I put one dowel in and measured and then cut all the same length. I repeated that for each layer.

Great idea about holding the paper in the back. That will give me a good reference point. Thanks!

chaptlps Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 3:54am
post #17 of 21

hmmm, then my next guess as to why it's not stayin straight is that the table itself might not be level.

MessiET Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 11:46am
post #18 of 21

You know, I think it must have been that I stuck my first dowel on the part of the cake that was low, then, having cut all the dowels the same length, the dowels that were on the high end of the cake must not have been touching the bottom of the board and when the layer went on top, it was not even and started to slide. That is the only thing I can come up with as to why the cake was sliding... I think I did everything else correctly.

Man, did I learn a big lesson! I will be leveling my cake layers the right way: with a cake leveler instead of the push down method!!!

missmeg Posted 29 Oct 2007 , 8:45pm
post #19 of 21

My dad gave me the perfect tool for cutting dowels even every time; it's called a miter cutter hand shear. It looks like this: http://www.woodworkersshop.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1211

My multi-tiered cake this weekend had one layer that was seriously concave in the middle. I used a combination of cake jacks http://www.surbitonart.co.uk/acatalog/Sugarcraft_Catalogue_Dowels_102.html and wooden dowels. I used the cake jacks to get the proper height, then cut the wooden dowels to match. Not even a millimeter off were they.

I had to put my dowels into nekked cake then ice overtop. I smoothed down to the height of the dowels to ensure levelness. I did not have a single issue.

GI Posted 31 Oct 2007 , 1:59am
post #20 of 21

missmeg do those shears cut even the bigger wooden dowels & do they work well to sharpe the end to a point? Or do you use a pencil sharpener for the point? They look very interesting indeed. Do you have to have a lot of torque in your hand/wrist to cut thru the dowel?

GI Posted 3 Nov 2007 , 5:36pm
post #21 of 21

RobzC8kz I took a look at your cakes. Wow, very impressive. Your cakes are wonderful! I love the pillow princess-cake. icon_smile.gif

People say do put fondant covered-cake in fridge or don't put fondant cake in fridge. icon_confused.gif I get confused myself on what to do!

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