I Have Center Dowel Phobia!!

Decorating By Iheartcake Updated 22 Apr 2008 , 8:09pm by tastyart

Iheartcake Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 3:28pm
post #1 of 31

I have 4 wedding cakes coming up, the first of which is in about 3 weeks. I have read a few posts about how to dowel the cake.. and I have a fear of the center dowel! I just can't imagine hammering something through the whole cake and it not collapsing. I know that the dowels and cake boards will really take all the stress, and not the cake.. but what if I start hammering and the whole thing starts falling apart??

Also.. what if you want the top to be smooth. One I'm making is fondant, and there won't be anything on the top.. how do you hide the whole from the center dowel?

Has anyone had problems with the hammering of the center dowel??

30 replies
HBcakes Posted 15 Apr 2008 , 4:23pm
post #2 of 31

I haven't done a fondant covered cake yet, so I'm unsure what to tell you on the hole on top, but I've center-doweled several BC cakes, and it works fine. Like you said, the cake boards and dowels in each tier will take it. I make sure to sharpen my center dowel very well, then I use my medium size cake spatula in reverse, so I'm holding the "blade" and the handle is doing the tapping. This puts the weight on the end that's hammering, obviously, so it's nice direct pressure onto the dowel. Remember only to tap, DON'T PUSH it through. It takes a few taps to get through each board of course, but this has always worked fantastically for me. The center dowel is so tight your cake won't budge a bit!

indydebi Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 11:42am
post #3 of 31

I was also a "You hammer a stick into your cake?????? icon_surprised.gif " person. But when I was forced to try it (4 tiered chocolate ganache cake ... had to pour the ganache while it was fully assembled before delivery), omg I couldn't BELIEVE how easy and how well it worked!!!

Trust me .... from a Nervous Nelly who couldn't believe that HAMMERING anything into your cake could be a good thing ...... IT WORKS!!!

Do it. You will LUV it!!!

flamingobaker Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 11:52am
post #4 of 31

I am still in awe every time I hammer that dowel through the top!
It is amazing how little force you need to tap the dowel to get through the boards.
As for the fondant top, cut a small thin circle of the same fondant and smooth it over the hole.
Try it, you'll like it!
Don't forget to sharpen the dowel..

CakeMommyTX Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 11:53am
post #5 of 31

I've never had a problem with my dowels, like HBcakes said make sure it is sharp,like a pencil, and I use a rubber mallet and I just hammer it in.
The first time I did it I was scared my cake would fall apart but it did'nt and it made it through the cake boards with no shifting .
Center dowels have allowed me to transport 3 tiered cake with no issues!
Good luck and remember the dowel is your friend thumbs_up.gif

AnotherBrit Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 11:57am
post #6 of 31

How do you guys sharpen the end of the dowel? Is the dowel too thick for a regular sharpener?

drgaddy Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 12:11pm
post #7 of 31

The dowels I have are just the right size for normal school pencil sharpener, no problems.

vickymacd Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 12:17pm
post #8 of 31

I give you all credit for doing this! I still havent' done this and I would be the first casualty if I tried. Gives me the heeby geebies just thinking about trying this!

And also, what size (thickness) dowel DO you use???

AKA_cupcakeshoppe Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 12:19pm
post #9 of 31

it makes me nervous just thinking about it LOL. so you;re not the only one vickymacd

springlakecake Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 12:25pm
post #10 of 31

okay I hope this isnt confusing icon_confused.gif If you dont want to hammer it down (trust me it is easy!) because you want the top to remain untouched, here is what you do. cut a circle in each of your cake board centers, a little bigger than the dowel. put your bottom tier on its board and put the center dowel into the center. Then take your next tier and place the bottom of the tier onto the dowel (sharpen it) through the hole. and so on to the next tier. Just be sure that the dowel is shorter than the combined height of your cake.

JulesM7 Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 12:26pm
post #11 of 31

If your dowel doesn't fit the regular sharpener, get one of those hand-held ones that have 2 holes. The larger hole worked for a thicker dowel I had to use last time.

vickymacd Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 12:43pm
post #12 of 31

merissa, that sounds a little better! I think the word HAMMER just doesn't mix with me and a cake! Thanks!

Iheartcake Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 12:45pm
post #13 of 31

Thanks for all the replies! Starting to feel a bit better about it. So do you only center dowel if you're transporting?? Or if you plan on setting it up at the location, does it require one then? I'm just thinking of when you're at the location, and if people are around watching you do this..it would make me really nervous.

springlakecake Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 12:48pm
post #14 of 31

SERIOUSLY it is much easier than you think. Personally I do it with any tierd cake even if I dont have to transport it(either the hammer or the stacking method). Do not worry about the hammering if you decide to do it that way. just be sure your dowel is sharpened and it goes right through. I just use a mallet it to drive it through.

Iheartcake Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 12:51pm
post #15 of 31

haha.. Ok. I will not worry anymore. At least the first one is my sisters.. at a small venue where it will be all family.. so I'm not too worried about not fully knowing what I'm doing for that one. It's the next one (which is exactly one week later) at a fancy country club that I'm nervous about. I hate not knowing what I'm doing!!

bostonterrierlady Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 10:48pm
post #16 of 31

I have done it twice. It was fine. It was strange though. The next day the center dowell had worked its way up a bit and the cake topper was sitting crooked. I had to pipe some buttercream under it and it sat on that.

indydebi Posted 16 Apr 2008 , 11:08pm
post #17 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by bostonterrierlady

I have done it twice. It was fine. It was strange though. The next day the center dowell had worked its way up a bit and the cake topper was sitting crooked. I had to pipe some buttercream under it and it sat on that.




I might venture a guess that it's not so much the dowel 'worked it's way up a bit', but that the cake settled. I always cut my dowels so that it's at least and inch (or 2!) down inside the cake.

CakeMommyTX Posted 17 Apr 2008 , 1:14am
post #18 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

I always cut my dowels so that it's at least and inch (or 2!) down inside the cake.




Ok I have to admit, I have never actually cut and served a tiered cake.
And I do the same thing, I make sure my dowel is inside the cake, (nobody wants to see a piece of wood sticking out of the top of thier cake), but how do you cut the cake?
Do you lift off the first tier and then cut it, or do you cut around it?

indydebi Posted 17 Apr 2008 , 1:32am
post #19 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by yourstrulytx

Quote:
Originally Posted by indydebi

I always cut my dowels so that it's at least and inch (or 2!) down inside the cake.



Ok I have to admit, I have never actually cut and served a tiered cake.
And I do the same thing, I make sure my dowel is inside the cake, (nobody wants to see a piece of wood sticking out of the top of thier cake), but how do you cut the cake?
Do you lift off the first tier and then cut it, or do you cut around it?




Yes, simply because you (well, at least I do) disassemble the wedding cake before cutting anyway. Lift the top tier off ... pull the center dowel out, disassemble all tiers.... cut (see my page on my website on how to cut a cake: http://cateritsimple.com/_wsn/page19.html )

I had a thread that was lost in the crash talking about "if you've never cut a wedding cake before...." then you really need to. Volunteer to cut a couple of your wedding cakes for the bride. YOu need to have this experience under your belt so:

(1) you understand how your assembly affects the end result during the disassemble and cutting. Trust me....having cut other people's cakes, the assembly process has totally pi$$ed me off more than once! icon_mad.gif
(2) you gain good credibility as you talk to your bride about how to disassemble and cut the cake (if she is having family cut it and not a professional caterer / cake cutter .... although I've heard horror stories about non-cake-making-caterers doing a horrible hack job on wedding cake!)
(3) you get to be there and hear all of the compliments and accolades personally from the guests as they come back for a 2nd and 3rd piece!
(4) you enhance your skill level as a professional cake person

springlakecake Posted 17 Apr 2008 , 11:38am
post #20 of 31

Debi, I always wondered about that "cake comb" (is that what you called it?) I thought what a nice thing to have and I couldnt find one. But now I think I found it. Is it actually an angel food cake cutter??

indydebi Posted 17 Apr 2008 , 11:47am
post #21 of 31

They're called cake combs, angel food cake cutters, cheese cutters, cheese combs, hair picks ......!

Here's the cheapest place I've seen them http://forum.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-399863.html

Iheartcake Posted 17 Apr 2008 , 1:44pm
post #22 of 31

indydebi wrote:

Quote:
Quote:

always cut my dowels so that it's at least and inch (or 2!) down inside the cake.




How do you get the dowel in 2 inches into the cake? You can't hammer it that far down.. right?? Do you just hammer it as far as you can then push it in??

tastyart Posted 17 Apr 2008 , 2:05pm
post #23 of 31

You could use another dowel as a nail set. They make nail sets for carpentry. It's about a 4" metal rod that you put on the nail head to hammer it flush with the wood. Use a dowel the same way. Is that how y'all do it?

springlakecake Posted 17 Apr 2008 , 2:33pm
post #24 of 31

Yup, I use another dowel to either push or tap it into the cake.

indydebi Posted 17 Apr 2008 , 6:10pm
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by merissa

Yup, I use another dowel to either push or tap it into the cake.




exactly. Just place another dowel on top of the one in the cake, and hammer a couple of times on that one. It pushes the bottom dowel down far enough for you.

ShopGrl1128 Posted 17 Apr 2008 , 6:36pm
post #26 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by merissa

okay I hope this isnt confusing icon_confused.gif If you dont want to hammer it down (trust me it is easy!) because you want the top to remain untouched, here is what you do. cut a circle in each of your cake board centers, a little bigger than the dowel. put your bottom tier on its board and put the center dowel into the center. Then take your next tier and place the bottom of the tier onto the dowel (sharpen it) through the hole. and so on to the next tier. Just be sure that the dowel is shorter than the combined height of your cake.




That's exactly what I do, it's a smooth ride...and not hammering!

Iheartcake Posted 17 Apr 2008 , 8:46pm
post #27 of 31

indydebi wrote:

Quote:
Quote:

merissa wrote:
Yup, I use another dowel to either push or tap it into the cake.


exactly. Just place another dowel on top of the one in the cake, and hammer a couple of times on that one. It pushes the bottom dowel down far enough for you.




oh duh dunce.gif Now that makes perfect sense. Ok. I think my confidence is up enough to try without worry (I sound confident don't I....)

Thanks again everyone!

springlakecake Posted 18 Apr 2008 , 1:07am
post #28 of 31

Yeah, it's like one of those "ah ha" moments isnt it!

becklynn Posted 19 Apr 2008 , 12:15pm
post #29 of 31

There is a great demo on youtube.com called "Assembling a wedding cake". She does not hammer the center dowel in. She sharpens one end and kind of twists it in. Check it out!

becklynn Posted 19 Apr 2008 , 12:15pm
post #30 of 31

There is a great demo on youtube.com called "Assembling a wedding cake". She does not hammer the center dowel in. She sharpens one end and kind of twists it in. Check it out!

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