Droopy Bottom Tier

Decorating By malishka Updated 17 Jul 2008 , 6:07pm by malishka

malishka Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 2:35pm
post #1 of 26

Somebody, anybody please help me figure this out. I made a beautiful 3 tiered cake. Filled, iced, fondant, and stacked it. It took me 3 days to make this wedding shower cake for a friend. she had 100 people at the shower and this was going to be a great advertisement opportunity for me. Well, I got to the place, opened up my trunk, and the bottom tier of the cake was drooping and leaning over to the front. I set up the cake on the table and propped it up so it won't crash forward. by the end of the party, the bottom tier had drooped so much, that we had to have a cake cutting emergency.
I was really dissapointed. Everybody was nice about it though. gave me many comliments on the cake, never the less, I am afraid to do this again.
I have no idea what I did wrong so I don't repeat the same mistake.

Anyone ever have this problem? Please help me figure it out. I have another bat mitvah cake due this weekend for 150 people and it will be embarrasing to have this happen again. icon_cry.gif

25 replies
Denise Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 3:20pm
post #2 of 26

I could be wrong but you said you put it in the trunk. Your info says you live in Florida. I would say it was very hot in the trunk and the cake got hot through and through and that caused it to buckle/lean over. I would never put a cake in the trunk in the summer. Way too hot.

Sorry this happened to you. icon_sad.gif

poshcakedesigns Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 4:05pm
post #3 of 26

Heat could have been a major factor. What type of support system did you use?

malishka Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 5:03pm
post #4 of 26

I used 5 dowels on the bottom tier, 4 dowels in the middle tier, and put one straight thru the cake from the top tier.
Am I doweling correctly? I don't think it was the heat simply because I have delivered in this heat a million times before in the trunk of my car. i turned it on with a/c on full blast 20 minutes before I put the cake in.
The cake itself was pretty heavy. i asked the lady who taught me the art of decorating, and she said that It must be my dowels. she thinks I should have put in 8 of them.
How do you guys dowel your cakes? And how do you cut those darn wooden things?

Denise Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 7:48pm
post #5 of 26

I don't think you had enough dowels. I don't know what size cakes you are talking about but in a 9 or 10" bottom cake I would put in about to 8 of the big plastic white dowel rods from Wilton. I also dowel all the cakes and drive a dowel rod all the way down to the foamcore board that supports the cake. Do you have a picture of the cake? I use these big cutters from Sears to cut wooden and plastic dowels.

Also, was the cake carried stacked? I rarely carry a stacked cake. I usually stack 2 tiers and then 2 more if nessassary and stack on site.

Also, you say the trunk of a car - is it a "trunk" that is only accessable through the outside of the car or is it the back of an SUV where A/C would reach? If it is in the trunk of a car A/C will not reach it. I would transport in the A/C.

HTH's

malishka Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 8:24pm
post #6 of 26

Hi Denise,
I drive an SUV so I know it was cool enough and the air was reaching my cake. I'm so sorry but I have not downloaded my pictures from the camera yet. I'll try to do it tomorrow.
I have never used the wilton plastic dowel rods. How else would I cut them if I don't have the big sears cutters? You think if I just use enough of the dowels (icon_cool.gif it would be o.k?

I have never assembled a cake on site. I usually deliver them already finished. It would take me so much time to assemble them at the site. All the fondant decorations would have to be transported as well and put on the cake at the site.
How early to you get to your destination in order to assemble the cake there?

aswartzw Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 8:45pm
post #7 of 26

Is it possible you didn't cut your dowels high enough? At no time should the top tier be touching the bottom tier. I cut mine 1/8" taller than the tier itself.

Also, where did you put your dowels? Near the center or near the edge? They should be in a circle near the center.

Also, did you make sure the dowels were all the same size (cut to each other and not to the cake?).

It sounds to me it's not a heat issue but that the bottom of the cake was simply squashed by the top tiers.

stampinron Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 9:33pm
post #8 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by aswartzw

Is it possible you didn't cut your dowels high enough? At no time should the top tier be touching the bottom tier. I cut mine 1/8" taller than the tier itself. ....

It sounds to me it's not a heat issue but that the bottom of the cake was simply squashed by the top tiers.




Really? Is this true? I just cut mine equal height to the frosting/fondant. It doesn't wobble ontop of those dowels?

indydebi Posted 14 Jul 2008 , 10:00pm
post #9 of 26

What do you mean by "drooping"? Did the cake separate at the filling and the top layer slide out, and then there was an overhang? I can't picture what you're describing by "drooping"?

I use 4 dowels, no matter what the size of cake. I cut them level with the icing. The next tier is sitting on the dowels ... no weight is actually on the bottom cake. I place the dowels near what would be the 'corners' of the upper tier .... and about 1" inside this circle.

malishka Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 1:38pm
post #10 of 26

o.k. girls,
thanks for all the input.
By drooping, I mean the bottom left side of the tier started going down and leaning towards the front. Kind of sagging for lack of a better word.
I will try to upload my picture today to show you.

I cut my dowels according to how high my cake is. meaning, I put it into the cake and cut each one to how high that part of the cake is. There are 5 dowels. 4 of them are about an inch away from the center of the top tier and one in the middle.

Now that aswartzw had explaned to me how it's done, I think I know where I went wrong. I have to cut my dowels all the same size.
But the cake is never really leveled, so what do I do with the dowels that are put into a higher part of the cake. won't they sink inside a little causing the cake to settle from the weight of the other tiers?
And won't my fondant sag just the same?
Also, when I stack my cakes, the tiers always touch eachother, how else would i get a completely clean fondant edge without piping a border around it? You can see my cakes in my pics

yesterday I went out and baught those big round plastic dowels by wilton. I hope they will do the trick. Will I have to put wooden dowels inside the plastic ones? sorry for the stupid questions, I am learning as I go along. I have not had this problem before and I never want to have it again.

malishka Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 1:43pm
post #11 of 26

indydebi,
I have an example for you. when you look in my pics, the little mermaid cake has the same problem.
The bottom tier is sagging.
I guess it's not the first time this happened to me. I did notice though that i used the sleeved filling in that one as well. These were the only 2 times that I used that type of filling. Hmmmmm?

Any thoughts on that?

Mandica12182 Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 2:29pm
post #12 of 26

I have learned that I HATE the dowels...wooden or plastic...I use SPS...it's great!!

Also...just a note I used those wilton plastic dowels and they were a pain in the &*% to cut!! Beware!!
I used them on my book cake and hated they way it turned out because I couldn't cut them to have a straight edge at all!!

One option that is easy to cut...and works great for sugarshak is the bubble tea straws....google them and a ton of places to order them pops up!!

HTH

malishka Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 2:40pm
post #13 of 26

Mandica12182,
I am afraid to use the bubble tea straws. If my wooden dowels didn't work, how would a frail bubble tea straw do the trick?

aswartzw Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 3:51pm
post #14 of 26

I use sucker sticks and haven't had issues. But I never have transported a tier cake larger than 2 tiers.

I am confused on your dowel placement. Did you place a dowel in the center of your tier to support the next tier or did you use a large dowel and pounded it through all the tiers to keep them from sliding apart?

You need to use the highest part of your cake to cut your dowels to size. To prevent gaps, invest in a level to make sure your cake is level before putting dowels in. If worse comes to worse, there is no harm in making a fondant ribbon the same color as your base color to hide any gaps.

malishka Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 4:16pm
post #15 of 26

I put a dowel in the center of the bottom tier and then when the cake was assembled, i pounded in a dowel thru the center of the entire cake. A tiny bit off center i should say since i didn't want it to touch the center dowel on the bottom.
when I inserted the final dowel in the center of the entire cake, my top tier cracked and i had to cover it up with little decorations.

aswartzw, you said to use the highest part of the cake to measure my dowels to. Someone told me to take the lowest part of the cake and measure them to that.
now I am really confused.

aswartzw Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 6:25pm
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by malishka

aswartzw, you said to use the highest part of the cake to measure my dowels to. Someone told me to take the lowest part of the cake and measure them to that.
now I am really confused.




It makes no sense to use your lowest point. This means the cake will then be resting its weight on the bottom tier where the cake is higher. This is a big no-no and is signs for a disaster. It can cause the higher sides to collapse under the weight of the cake.

The purpose of dowels is to keep the weight of the above cakes off the bottom cake so it doesn't collapse. My rule of thumb...At no time should the top tier ever rest or touch on the bottom. This is why I cut mine 1/8" taller than the highest point of the cake.

Janette Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 6:36pm
post #17 of 26

I didn't take time to read all the answers but I had the same thing happen to me with a Wedding Cake. I had to give a full refund.

I now use the locking plates/pillars.

malishka Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 6:52pm
post #18 of 26

If the dowels are cut 1/8th inch taller than the cake, won't your cake then woble (SP?) And how do you fill in the space in the part where it's the lowest point? do you put some buttercream inside there in between the tiers?
sorry if my questions are silly. I just have a wierd visual.

tiggy2 Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 6:56pm
post #19 of 26

I highly recommend the sps system. If you pm leahs she will send you instructions on using it and you will never have a problem again. However, your cake needs to be level no matter what system you use. I also recommen sugarshack's DVD on stacking. She explains leveling, doweling and stacking. Very inexpensive DVD and worth every penny.

malishka Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 7:07pm
post #20 of 26

tiggy2, thank you, i think you've talked me into it.
sugarshack is an amazing artist.

aswartzw Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 7:36pm
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by malishka

If the dowels are cut 1/8th inch taller than the cake, won't your cake then woble (SP?) And how do you fill in the space in the part where it's the lowest point? do you put some buttercream inside there in between the tiers?
sorry if my questions are silly. I just have a wierd visual.




No, it won't wobble. It will only wobble if it's resting on uneven dowels. You do not fill up the space with anything. That's what a border is for. Please note that 1/8" gap is so small people will more than likely not even see it.

I have driven country rides and up/down substantial hills and across gravel roads without havign my cake slide off using this method and I still did not use a center dowel.

Just remember: the dowels are what is supporting the cake, not the actual cake. A cake cannot support another cake ever.

malishka Posted 15 Jul 2008 , 7:49pm
post #22 of 26

tiggy2 & aswartzw, thank you for that explanation.
I just ordered sugarshacks stacking video. I think I have a lot of learning to do.
thank you both so very much.

Denise Posted 16 Jul 2008 , 4:50am
post #23 of 26

For my wedding cakes I do use Stress Free Support Systems. For other "party cakes" I use the plastic dowels.

I love my Stress Free rings. They are a "stress free" system. I don't worry about cakes leaning, falling or having any other issue and I don't have to cut dowels - I hate cutting dowels.

I did watch Sharon's DVD on stacking. She is a terrific cake artist!

malishka Posted 16 Jul 2008 , 2:46pm
post #24 of 26

o.k. guys,
I just uploaded the bridal shower cake into my pics. I have no idea how to attach the picture to this post so go into my pics and look at the pink, white and brown hat box cake with pearls and orchids.
I call it the leaning tower of cake.

Mandica12182 Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 5:10pm
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by malishka

Mandica12182,
I am afraid to use the bubble tea straws. If my wooden dowels didn't work, how would a frail bubble tea straw do the trick?




Have you seen the bubble tea straws?? They're pretty big and sturdy and easy to cut....and actually that's what Sugarshack uses in the video.

Because they are sooo easy to cut you can cut them more accuratley and it's easier to cut and add as many as you want.

Hope that explained it a little more....I still highly recommend the SPS system though...it's a lifesaver....never have to assemble anything on site at all!!!

malishka Posted 17 Jul 2008 , 6:07pm
post #26 of 26

thank you Mandica12182, I will keep that in mind.
for this weekend, since it's too late to look for straws, i will use the wilton plastic dowels.
Will look for the tea straws next weekend.

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