I have had much success with pound cakes, cheese cakes and sheet cakes. I am trying to venture into wedding cakes. I made one this past weekend and I had the following problems:
* I couldn't put the topper on, it kept leaning. It was heavy on the left side and it kept leaning that way.
*The cake began to slide apart. The second and third tiers.
*I wasn't sure about the size/height of the layers. I baked a 10 inch, 8 inch, and 6 inch. The layers seemed so small in height so I baked two of each size. This gave me a bottom and second tier of about 4-5" tall. I put filling between the layers. Am I to bake two layers when I want to fill them or should I split one layer and fill it?
*Is there a way to really get the icing smooth when you use buttercream?
*For support, it was a square cake, I used 9 wooden dowels on the first and second tiers. I think I might have cut them too tall because when I added the tiers, there was about 1/2" gap between the layers. It seemed unsteady when I placed the tiers on top of each other.
I want to do another cake in the end of July and I intend to do a practice one before then. Please help!
I'll try to help:
For the topper, when I use one, I put a cardboard on top of the cake supported by dowels. Make sure the topper hides it, or cover it with some frosting, like a border or some such thing. Make sure the cardboard is protected from grease and moisture by plastic wrap or clear contac paper.
The wooden dowels sound right, but to get the right height, put one in the frosted cake, mark it where it meets the frosting, and pull it out. Cut it at the mark, and make sure all of them are the same height. Do it all over again for the second tier, because the bottom tier and middle tier may not be exactly the same height.
I bake my layers in a 2 in deep cake pan and use 2 of them. If you bake in deeper pans and have a deeper cake, you may need only one that you torte and fill.
What kind of buttercream were you using?
I can only use the crusting buttercream in my business due to Ohio's Cottage Food laws, so I use either Melvira's roller method or the Viva paper towel method or both to get really smooth icing.
If using IMBC or SMBC, that requires refrigeration, put the icing on as smoothly as possible and refrigerate. Once the icing hardens, you can smooth out any bumps with a bench scraper dipped in super hot water and wiped dry.
Not sure why your tiers were sliding apart, unless your table was not level or your dowels weren't all the same length or there was another stability issue I can't think of right now.
I hope I've answered all the questions. Surely somebody with more experience will chime in as well....
It does sound like your dowels were too high. Make sure your cake and icing are completely level as well.
I use the Bakery Craft SPS system, no dowels to cut and extremly sturdy!
I always bake (2) 2" layers, level, torte, fill, and ice to where each tier is about 4 1/8" tall.
I use a Viva paper towel and a fondant smoother to smooth my buttercream, but this will only work with a crusting buttercream (otherwise your paper towel will stick to it). I use a bench scraper first to get most of my icing smoothed out.