Stacking - I Was Told Wood Dowels Aren't Food Safe

Decorating By jessieb578 Updated 5 Jun 2008 , 2:35am by vdrsolo

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 1:58pm
post #1 of 49

When I attended the Institute of Culinary Education I was told that wooden dowels that many people use are not food safe and approved for food use because of the possibility of splintering.

Any thouhgts on that?? I moved to using lollipop sticks, but my last wedding cake was slightly leaning.

Any thoughts?

48 replies
bobwonderbuns Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:05pm
post #2 of 49

I've been in the biz for years and I've never heard that from any quarter. Also how dense does a cake have to be to cause splintering in the dowels??? icon_confused.gif Wire is not foodsafe (think wiring gumpaste flowers.) But if you are in competition, putting flowers on wooden toothpicks is allowed because they are foodsafe. Other than thickness, what is the difference between a wooden toothpick and a wooden dowel??? But, if you are concerned, use bubble straws or one of the many plastic cake support systems available. Hope that helps answer some of your concerns. icon_smile.gif

peg818 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:07pm
post #3 of 49

Well, they have been using them for years and i don't think its a matter of whether or not they are food safe, so much as getting sued cause some fool ends up getting a splinter.

What i do is slip the wooden dowel in to a drinking straw and find that works great, i would worry about the lolly sticks sucking up the moisture in the cake and weakening. Wilton does make a hollow plastic dowel that works quite well and is fairly easy to cut.

Lenore Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:08pm
post #4 of 49

Wooden dowels supplied by companies such as wilton are food safe. Wooden spoons we all have in our kitchens are food safe too!!

aliciag Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:09pm
post #5 of 49

If you are worried about splinters just put the dowel inside a drinking straw so it won't touch the cake. icon_smile.gif

MCook Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:09pm
post #6 of 49

What about all the Food NetWork Challenges?? Those guys are hammering in wooden dowels all over the place. If they weren't safe the judges would certainly say something and they wouldn't be allowed. If the professionals use them---I would say they are very safe.

vdrsolo Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:10pm
post #7 of 49

If you buy regular wood dowels from the hardware store, no, they are not food safe, not only because of the splintering issue, but because of the oils that are treated in the wood itself. You need to buy dowels that are specified for cakes.

I switched from using dowels a couple of years ago and never looked back, I absolutely hated cutting them. I use Bakery Craft SPS system, they are a hard plastic hollow support rods. I do mostly stacked cakes and the 4" precut rods are perfect.

I have seen where other people use bubble tea straws for support, they look like they are pretty strong but I still prefer my SPS system since the pillars lock into the plates. As long as the plate is centered, my cake will be perfectly centered as well.

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:12pm
post #8 of 49

great points you all make!!

I think that may be true about the lolli sticks absorbing the moisture!

Hmmm, I learned from the great Toba Garrett and she's the one who said not to use the wooden dowels.....I'm at such a loss because that's all I used to use were those and straws.

Wow bubble straws?? I don't exactly know what those are. I do like the idea of the straw and the wooden dowel.

I'm just really at a loss these days on how to stack cakes and I have a 4 tiered fondant covered cake this weekend and certainly don't want that to fall.

karensjustdessert Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:15pm
post #9 of 49

If wooden sticks/dowels aren't food safe, the ice cream man will be outta business. Creamsicle, anyone?

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:23pm
post #10 of 49

Ha!! That is too funny, all of these things I never thought of - ice cream man, too funny icon_lol.gif

It's funny because someone like Toba I see as almost god like in the cake world, so to question something she says is funny to me, but it didn't make any sense.

Ohhh boy, now I need to figure out what to do with myself and stacking!

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:27pm
post #11 of 49

vdrsolo - forgive me for being naieve but that stacking system the Bakery Craft system, is this for cakes that are only seperated? Or is this a system you can use for cakes stacked directly in top of each other??

Thanks.

gr8_seamstress Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:30pm
post #12 of 49

I have never heard of a "bubble straw", but I use the large drinking straws. The heavy ones that many fast food places use. I have never had a cake lean, fall, or cave.
I like most learned years ago that you had to support cakes with wooden dowels. Then I was reading an old Chocolatier magazine (1987 issue)....an article about a woman that designs cakes for Tiffany's windows etc. Cile was her name...Anyway, she was using drinking straws for support & not wooden dowels! I figured if she can so can I! I have never used another wooden dowel for cake supports since that time. However, I will say that I do use a wooden dowel down the center when I am stacking cake 3 tiers or more high.[/u]

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:37pm
post #13 of 49

gr8_seamstress - I thought the same thing about Toba Garrett, if she doesn't do it, why should I, so I used the lolli pop sticks and a cake I had that was 4 tiers tall was leaning ever so slightly.

That's why I'm questioning what to do!

gr8_seamstress Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:40pm
post #14 of 49

So then the question would be this: What did she reccomend instead of the dowls?

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:42pm
post #15 of 49

she recommended the lolli pop sticks, which I did use and when making a large 4 tier cake, it worked, but you could tell it was a little weak.

peg818 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:46pm
post #16 of 49

the only time i every had a cake fall over is when i used lolly pop sticks (you are talking the paper sticks right) Thank goodness it was for family and was a free cake.

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:49pm
post #17 of 49

Holy cow! icon_surprised.gif Really?? I'm so glad that didn't happen to me because this cake was for my best friend and I was her maid of honor - all eyes were on me because they knew I made the cake. I would have died in front of 200 people if the cake fell!

Guess I'm never using those EVER again![/i]

southerncake Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:50pm
post #18 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by jessieb578

vdrsolo - forgive me for being naieve but that stacking system the Bakery Craft system, is this for cakes that are only seperated? Or is this a system you can use for cakes stacked directly in top of each other??

Thanks.




It can be used for stacked or separated cakes. I switched over about a year ago and have never looked back! I love the Bakery Craft SPS system and don't think I could live without it!

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:54pm
post #19 of 49

Wow, I really wish I could get this system for this weekend....

I guess I will use the good ol' dowels for this cake and put the others on order.

I'm guessing I'll love them like the rest of you! Do you travel with them stacked or in pieces?? For instance, if I have a 4 tiered cake can I stack 2 and then the other 2 and still assemble where I deliver? Or are they something that has to be done all together?

Thanks

CakeMommyTX Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:54pm
post #20 of 49

I just keep thinking of the way a lolli pop stick looks like after you've eaten the candy, all soggy and un-wrapping? It does'nt seem like it would hold up to the moisture in a cake?
I use straws in the cake and Wilton dowels as the center dowel. I figured if Wilton markets them as cake dowels then they should be food safe.
I did buy one bag not to long ago that when I sharpened the end it splintered, I t returned them and got some more, I did'nt want splinteres in my cake. But other than that I have'nt had any trouble with wooden dowels.

seskenn Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:57pm
post #21 of 49

I'm not fond of using the lollipop sticks - they don't seem heavy enough and are so thin, the top layer sometimes leans when I'm transporting it. When I have used lollipop sticks, I wrap them in aluminum foil to prevent them from absorbing the moisture from the cake.

SweetResults Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 2:58pm
post #22 of 49

Lolli sticks could give way on you - I would not use them

BUBBLE STRAWS BUBBLE STRAWS BUBBLE STRAWS!!!!


Love them, easy to cut - no splintering, no snading, cleaning, very sturdy. Actually saw Duff using them on one episode. Google them or I get mine from eBay SUPER CHEAP!!!

SweetArt Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 3:07pm
post #23 of 49

There is nothing wrong with wood that is made for food use. Any minor splintering should be smoothed before putting it into the cake anyway. The problem with using dowels from a hardware or craft store is that those dowels are chemically treated with pesticides and preservatives. Those shouldn't be used in a cake.

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 3:07pm
post #24 of 49

Laura - the bubble tea straws (never heard of these) - these will work for the heaviest cakes?? such as a dense fondant covered 4 tiered cake??

What do you use for the support in between?? Cake circles??

Hmmm....I just noticed that Sharon has a new stacking dvd - forgive me, I've been so busy I haven't been on here.

Believe it or not, my grand opening for my shop is next week and I've been busy with that! How sad...I'm opening a shop and I'm still contemplating ways to stack a cake. Ugh... icon_rolleyes.gif

confectioneista Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 3:08pm
post #25 of 49

Wooden dowls not food safe? Ok, then what about kabobs, chopsticks, popsicles, little wooden spoons that come with little ice cream cups, little decorative wooden umbrellas in your tropical drinks....?

southerncake Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 3:10pm
post #26 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by jessieb578

Wow, I really wish I could get this system for this weekend....

I guess I will use the good ol' dowels for this cake and put the others on order.

I'm guessing I'll love them like the rest of you! Do you travel with them stacked or in pieces?? For instance, if I have a 4 tiered cake can I stack 2 and then the other 2 and still assemble where I deliver? Or are they something that has to be done all together?

Thanks




I deliver three-tier cakes already assembled. For four-tier and five-tier cakes, I stack the bottom two tiers and then add the others at the location simply because of weight. I can't usually lift a four-tier. Since your plates are already in place, the assembly at the site is quick and easy!

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 3:13pm
post #27 of 49

that is so great to know!!! I'm definitely getting a system like that. I love the idea of the bubble straws, but I might go for the other system because it is much sturdier there will be no chances at all.

southerncake Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 3:38pm
post #28 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by jessieb578

that is so great to know!!! I'm definitely getting a system like that. I love the idea of the bubble straws, but I might go for the other system because it is much sturdier there will be no chances at all.




Before I started using this system, my stomach would be in knots after setting up a wedding cake worrying that it would slide or fall. It would literally make me sick. I can honestly say now that I leave every cake feeling confident and have no worries about it falling. I also love the the plates and legs are very reasonably priced.

SweetResults Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 5:03pm
post #29 of 49

jessieb578 - if you take a look at my pics - I do a lot of heavy cakes! The last duffel bag I did was four 12x18 sheet cakes, torted and stacked, covered in fondant thick enough so I could mold it a bit, then it had a rkt baseball glove and cleat covered in fondant.
I needed hubby to help me carry it!

I used bubble straws and cardboard/cake squares. If I am working a few days in advance I cover the cake circles with plastic wrap or foil so they don't absorb too much moisture, but many times I have not done this and they have been fine.

Here is a pic of a bubble tea straw (also called boba tea straw) so you can see how large they are, they are very sturdy.

Plus a blog mentioning bubble tea icon_smile.gif
http://www.teapigs.co.uk/blog/?category_id=0&entry_id=49

Plus at around 700 straws for under $20, you really can't beat that!
LL

jessieb578 Posted 3 Jun 2008 , 6:32pm
post #30 of 49

Wow Laura, thanks for the pic!! That is some cake you used with those straws. I certainly believe that these work now! btw...your cakes are amazing!!

I'll have to invest the $20 and give those a shot. Where have you found the best place to buy them? 700 for $20 is definitely a good deal.

Thanks for all of your help! Wish we could all meet and chat....it really would be fun!

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