Just Say No To Wooden Dowels - And Save Your Cake!

Decorating By cakesbyallison Updated 9 Sep 2015 , 5:49am by Apti

cakesbyallison Posted 28 Jul 2008 , 11:11pm
post #1 of 65

Am I the only one?! Seems to me, every time I hop on CC lately - I read post after post of wedding cake "disasters".... Cake's that have collapsed - ALL of them have mentioned the use of wooden dowels.

Please - do not use those skinny Wilton wooden dowels on your wedding cakes!! Sooner or later, you are just asking for disaster! It is worth the extra expense and effort to invest in an alternate support system for your stacked cakes (wedding cakes especially!) You work too hard to chance it, and end up refunding your hard earned money! The wooden dowels are very narrow... If your cake is moist and it's being transported (and especially with it being summer, with heat and humidity) any slight jolt or shift, can cause those little suckers to give out, causing your cake to shift and collapse. Your stacked cake is as strong as your support system! I remember watching Sylvia Wienstock on a program once, talking about how she could stack jello if she had to - it's all about the support system, that holds the cake together.

There are many systems (I personally prefer the SFS - Stress Free Supports) but there are several favorites, and all kinds of threads discussing them (seems like the SFS and SPS is the way to go). Even the Wilton plastic disposable pillars are better than the wood dowels, they're wider, and a little more stable. I do use those on my smaller stacked cakes.... but a wedding cake - I wouldn't chance it. If it's cost... charge a little more for the cake... Don't skimp out - love you cake! Treat it with respect!! It will love you for it! thumbs_up.gif

64 replies
summernoelle Posted 28 Jul 2008 , 11:32pm
post #2 of 65

Honestly, I always used them and never had an issue-Until my turquoise swirl cake and the thing fell apart! I started using SPS, and it has made a huge difference. The cakes even look better (no buldges).
I can't imagine using straws, though. How can those possibly support cake?

beachcakes Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 2:10am
post #3 of 65

I just used SPS for the first time yesterday on a 3 tier party cake. I loved it! So much easier than cutting those Wilton plastic dowels - I could never get those suckers even! tho' they are much better than wooden dowels, in my opinion.

I'd love to try SFS, but I don't do enough to warrant the $.

BlakesCakes Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 3:07am
post #4 of 65

I only stopped using the wooden dowels because I prefer putting in fewer dowels, so I use the Wilton plastic ones. icon_wink.gif

The wooden dowels have been used for eons before all of the other "systems" came into play, and when you know how to properly determine the # to use, and to measure, cut, & insert them the right way, they do the job just fine. They're not as "evil" as the OP would have us think. Many a wedding cake has stood on them, really.

I honestly can't be bothered with getting deposits and then hoping the parts of the SFS will be returned. As for the SPS, I can see where it would work nicely for some styles of cakes, but for others, piping a border between each tier (espeically on a fondant covered cake) just doesn't work for me.

I place each tier on a 3/16th inch foamcore board and often use fondant to adhere the tier to the plastic dowels in the cake below. I do this with buttercream & fondant cakes and it works nicely for me.

I guess it's just a matter of what works best for you--others swear by those straws (I see Duff use them, but that doesn't instill any special security in me, either icon_confused.gif ).

To each his/her own.
Rae

Bakingangel Posted 29 Jul 2008 , 3:35am
post #5 of 65

I previously used the wooden dowels but never will again! We used to have to stack the cakes at the venue, make any repairs from handling, add a border, etc. I have never stacked a cake as easily and securely as I have since I learned how from Sugar Shack's Stacking Cakes DVD. The last two wedding cakes I made were delivered completely stacked without any touch ups or additions (other than putting the gp flowers on).
In and out in a matter of 10 minutes!! They were both done in buttercream! All of her DVDs are fantastic!!! A small investment with big payoffs! thumbs_up.gif

sugarshack Posted 1 Aug 2008 , 6:17pm
post #6 of 65

bubble tea straws rock!

wide, sturdy, do not shift, SO easy to cut.

i alos love the SFS system

moralna Posted 1 Aug 2008 , 11:35pm
post #7 of 65

May I ask. .. what is sps?

Jazp Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 4:29am
post #8 of 65

Where can i get some info on these supports ? I just had a cake fall apart on me and I had no idea the wooden dowels could contribute to this happening. Thanks in Advance

kristina67 Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 2:59pm
post #9 of 65

Where can I but bubble tea straws? I stacked cake coming up in 2 weeks. I think I need to have them. icon_lol.gif

KKC Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 3:08pm
post #10 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by kristina67

Where can I but bubble tea straws? I stacked cake coming up in 2 weeks. I think I need to have them. icon_lol.gif


I need to find them also...

zoomitoons Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 3:11pm
post #11 of 65

I have always used wooden and/or cut PVC pipe for my supports and have never had a problem. I cut my dowels for each cake, that way I know they are going to support it and not have any issues. I have tried a few of the store bought cake support systems and have not liked any of them as much as my own dowels.

SweetResults Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 3:24pm
post #12 of 65

Bubble Tea Straws = eBay

tdybear1978 Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 3:26pm
post #13 of 65

what exactly is the sfs method? I currently have been using sugarshacks method and it works great for me. I have not had a chance to order any of the bubble tea straws yet so I have been using the wilton plastic hollow dowels and so far they have worked great. But have wondered what is the sfs?

crablegs Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 3:29pm
post #14 of 65

ohhhhh please help!!!!!! I need to know about the sps system or bubble tea straws or something. I did my nieces wedding cake last weekend (dowels) and it fell apart. I have a huge wedding this weekend and I'm scared to death. Where do I get these things?

PinkZiab Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 3:38pm
post #15 of 65

Check out blog.pinkcakebox.com (my website is still under construction hehehe, so I'll show you Anne's)

Every one of those cakes is stacked using wooden dowels alone (the individual cakes sit on masonite circles, not cardboard, which I believe makes a difference). And they are all stacked in-shop and delivered fully assembled.

luvscakes Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 3:51pm
post #16 of 65

I love love love bubble tea straws! I actually started using them when I had a cake due and no more wooden dowels- but I had my beloved Bubble Tea straws since I am an avid Bubble tea drinker and am hopelessly addicted. It was oh so hard to cut the very thing that I love slurping out of- but in the end I loved the results and the ease of cutting.
I purchase mine online when I buy other bubble tea supplies but I have also found them at a few other Asian food markets here in town. They are also called Boba Tea straws if that helps in your search!

jpcs Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 4:23pm
post #17 of 65

I love the plastic Wilton dowels too! But, I can't wait to try the SPS once I save some money!

spunkybear Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 4:34pm
post #18 of 65

I get my bubble straws at a local Asain food market. A package of 50 for only 99cents!!
Love them!!

smoore Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 4:39pm
post #19 of 65

I'm ordering my SPS now ... just had my disaster this weekend (pictures are in my pics) that taught me my lesson! (Never think it won't happen to you .... I did, and look where it left me! Thank God my customer was so nice and understanding!!!!)

Godiva Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 4:43pm
post #20 of 65

Anyone who's had a cake collapse using dowels was because of poor construction. Either whimpy cardboard bases or not enough dowels or whatever else...What makes you think wood is going to give out???
Pros still use wood dowels as others have posted without a problem. I don't use anything Wilton so don't know how thick those are, but I get mine at the hardware store and it's the 1/4" thick dowel with the blue tip. That's what I use and have never had a problem. As I learned, I began using foamcore bases as well and will probably be moving on to masonite in the future. I do want to try the thicker plastic tubes only to avoid having to cut so many darn dowels!
The other thing is to make sure you scewer the entire cake with a 1/2" dowel, top to bottom if transporting assembled.

BTW, lovely cakes allison!

tdybear1978 Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 4:46pm
post #21 of 65

what is the sps?

tonia3604 Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 5:03pm
post #22 of 65

Don't make the same mistake as I just did!!! (Unless you want too!) I am reading these posts and thinking I would like to order the Sugar Shack DVD that a couple of you have mentioned, as I need to learn an easier way to stack cakes as well. I am wondering where to get the Sugar Shack DVD and think why not try Sugarshack.com, makes sense, right? NO! Sugarshack.com is a website for STRIPPERS! You have an option on the first page MALE DANCERS or FEMALE DANCERS. It was tempting to proceed, but I turned back to warn the rest of you!! Anyway, anyone out there know where I can order the Sugar Shack DVD (on cake stacking not male dancers!) TIA

Tallmama Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 5:04pm
post #23 of 65

SFS Stress Free cake system This is FAB!! LOVE IT!!

www.weddingcakesupports.com

Fast shipping!! Order today

dynee Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 5:11pm
post #24 of 65

SPS is "Single Plate System". I had heard about it from Leah on this site. I had a wedding cake to do for my niece and it was to be 120 miles to deliver it. I figured it all out in December when I first found out about the cake and ordered from OASIS. Some how I didn't have it figured correctly and the week before I had to do the cake went back and figured again. I planned to do two 2 tier cakes and put them together after I got there. I had the correct plates and supports for the 12"round and 8" square portion and then the correct plate for the 8" round, but didn't have it for the 4" square top. So the top two tiers were a 8" round with a 4" square sitting on top, so thinking "What can happen to a 4" square, I used wooden dowels for that. The cakes were iced with vanilla SMBC and All the filling were different flavors of SMBC. When I got to the banquet center, I left the cakes in boxes and went to the wedding. Had plenty of time to set up after. When I opened the boxes, the big tier with the SPS was just fine. The 8" round had slipped about 3/8" and the only thing I could do was to take my whole hand and gently push it back together and then finish the decorations between the tiers. I think if I had the supports in that cake it would never have slipped. By the way, the boards were 1/4" foam-core.
As soon as I got home I modified a 6" circle plate to be my 4" square and ordered plates for all the sizes of pans I have. Now chances are, I'll never deliver another cake 120 miles in July, but I am leaving nothing to chance for the next cake
http://www.oasisupply.com/Products/MoreInfo.asp?ProductID=1%7EW2105%2D3572
click on "Your Special Day" sub-category-"Wedding", Sub-Category"Plates, Pillars and Dividers", then scroll toward the bottom of page 4, It starts with the item number: BC CPS10 to Item #: BC SQPS9 on page 7.
Somewhere on here are the directions on how to use these, but I'm not much on researching these things.

SusieHazCakes Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 5:19pm
post #25 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonia3604

Don't make the same mistake as I just did!!! (Unless you want too!) I am reading these posts and thinking I would like to order the Sugar Shack DVD that a couple of you have mentioned, as I need to learn an easier way to stack cakes as well. I am wondering where to get the Sugar Shack DVD and think why not try Sugarshack.com, makes sense, right? NO! Sugarshack.com is a website for STRIPPERS! You have an option on the first page MALE DANCERS or FEMALE DANCERS. It was tempting to proceed, but I turned back to warn the rest of you!! Anyway, anyone out there know where I can order the Sugar Shack DVD (on cake stacking not male dancers!) TIA




Just scroll up on page 1 of this thread to see Sugarshack's post. She's got links to her website there.

rvercher23 Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 5:39pm
post #26 of 65

I bought the sps system for my last wedding and I really liked it, the only problem that I had was that the pillars were to long for my cake so I had to go to the hardware store and by some cvc pipe and use that instead with the plates. I was just wondering, can you by different size pillars, or do they make adjustable pillars for that system?

leah_s Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 5:45pm
post #27 of 65

SPS comes with several options for legs - 4", 9" and the multi piece that comes with a base 5" piece and 2, 2" extensions. I use the 4" legs for regular stacked cakes. You can use a miter box/saw to cut the SPS legs.

PM for more info! (see siggy)

Pama2d Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 5:53pm
post #28 of 65

I'be been curious about these bubble tea straws. I went to www.bobateadirect.com and this was the description for them... Are these the correct ones to buy?

40-50 straws per bag
Fat Bubble Tea Straws are a must when drinking your bubble tea. Straws are about 1/2" in diameter and 7" long. These straws are the thicker type and will not crumple when in use.

Lesia Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 7:59pm
post #29 of 65

Long ago I had the SFS, but got rid of it because it was just to much busy-work to keep up with the deposits and getting the pieces back. I went back to wooden dowels and have never had a problem. Well - only once, but it was before I left the shop with the cake, and "I" was the cause of the problem, not the dowels. That's when I learned one very important rule about using wooden dowels (or straws for that matter): you can NOT nudge a cake over once it is set on top of the dowels. This will cause them to lean, and eventually collapse. If your tier isn't centered correctly, you have to pick it up, ensure your dowels are straight up and down, and re-seat the tier. I use double cardboards wrapped in Glad press-n-seal (which grips the top of the dowels as well). Anymore, I don't do enough cakes to order any special stuff (like SPS), but I may try the bubble tea straws sometime (just cuz they'er easier to cut!).

ZAKIA6 Posted 4 Aug 2008 , 9:29pm
post #30 of 65

i had my first and last dowel disaster this weekend.
ordering sps is on my list of things to do this week.
i am not going to worry about deposits etc - i will just increase the all stacked/tiered cakes.

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