I am making my first 3 tiered cake this coming sunday for my sons first birthday. I have done the research on how to construct a stacked cake but I still have a few questions. I have read on here that some people use straws instead of dowels. Are they really strong enough to support a cake? are they just normal straws? My next question is, what is the best way to make sure that your 2nd and 3rd tier are centered on the cakes under them? I have done a 2 tier and had to do some adjusting to center them and though "there has to be a better way." my last question is, how long can this cake stay out without going bad? I use 3/4 shortning 1/4 butter and whipping cream in my frosting. I plan on using mousse and bavarian cream as fillings. If you know of any good instruction on constructing a tiered cake that would be appreciated. Thanks in advance
I don't use straws, so I can't help you there ..... but on the centering, use your icing spatula to set the tier on top of the bottom cake. I place the cake in place, take a good look to see if it's centered ok. If not, I gently lift with the spatula (that is still under the cake) and move it. Do not just push or slide the cake around as this may cause your dowels to move and they won't be straight up and down, which may cause the cake to lean or fall. Once the cake is centered, just pull the spatula out from under the cake.
I ice/decorate on THursday for a Saturday wedding and they sit out on my counter during that time.
And of course, for your next cake, check into SPS. Couldn't be easier to center and stack a tiered cake.
I use straws for smaller tiered cakes and have never had a problem. I use McDonalds straws (they have a wider opening than most straws) or bubble tea straws found at asian markets. Heres what I do (and your cakes really need to be at room temp)... Find the height of straw you need (stick a straw all the way into the center of the cake and mark where it hits the icing). Cut all of the remaining straws to that length. Insert the straws into the cake leaving 1 to 1 1/2" sticking out above the cake. Place the second tier on top of the straws that are sticking out (dont let go of the cake just yet). This will give you a chance to see if it is centered or if you need to make some adjustments. Once you like where it is, let go of the cake. The weight of the second tier will push the straws down the remainder of the way (the only important thing Ive found with doing tiers this way is that you have to make sure that your cakes are level...otherwise, you will have gaps). Hope this helps.
The straws to use are bubble tea straws--extremely thick ones, not regular ones--you can get them at coffee shops sometimes. I've not gone that route yet, I always use dowels and for the bottom tier I prefer the wilton round tubes that can be cut to length. The best support system is SPS which can be purchased at oassis supply online and many other places. Since you don't have time for that though (do a search on it when you have time--it really is the best--the gigantic cake in my avatar was made using SPS), you will be fine with dowels or bubble tea straws. As far as making sure the cakes are centered, I place the pan that I've used to make the second tier cakes on top of the first tier (empty), measure from the edge of the pan to the edge of the tier it's sitting on all around to make sure it's centered and then press down to make an indention on the tier it's sitting on. This makes it so easy to center the cake because you can line up right where your 2nd tier needs to sit on the first tier indentions and so on. Wilton has a tutorial on their website and I bet there's one here too! Good luck!!
Kelly... good luck with your cake The most accurate way I have found to center cakes is to place a cake cardboard, the size of the 2nd tier, on top of the 1st tier, and use a toothpick to mark around the circle. There is your target. If you wait till the icing has crusted, the cake circle won't stick to the cake.. Your icing can stay out at room temp without a problem, but your filling might need refrigeration, depending on the type.
I bake on Wednesday for weekend weddings. Then I hear that the brides will keep their cakes for at least a week after the wedding, if they have any left. I guess they last a really long time. When I am stacking my cakes I set a round circle the size of the top tier and press down just a little, and it imprints the circle onto the cake. Then I just center my SPS right where the imprint is. I would recommend SPS whenever you can. It definately makes a difference. I
Thanks for this thread. But can anyone elaborate on what SPS is? Would you stack the cakes before or after icing each cake? I've tried after icing and just make a mess. Maybe I just need more practice...
SPS = Single Plate Separator (Note my siggy line.)
And you ice the cakes before stacking. Although I did run into one person who iced after stacking. I can't even imagine it.
Oops sorry leahs. Didn't notice your siggy line. Thanks a bunch!!
thank you everyone for your fantastic advice. I would love to use the SPS system becasue it looks great, but there is just no time. Im hoping to purchase it soon. I think using the indent from the cardboard or the actual pan in to help center the cake will help a tonne and probably be easiest on me. I did this of a few more questions though. Is the dowel straight down the middle of all the cakes needed? if so how the heck to you get it through the boards inbetween the cakes?? Now the I am understanding how to construct this cake...how hard is it going to be to take it apart to cut it? thank you everyone. You are all just a fountain of information and I really appreciate it.
Sharpen the end of the dowel and it hammers right thru the cardboard ... no kidding! I was very skeptical, but it works just like everyone says it does.... I kept my eyes open and everything!
Taking it apart is not as hard as you think .... but I always let the facility/family know if there is a center dowel. To take apart, you lift the top tier off. When you do that, the big center dowel is exposed ... just grab hold and pull it out. Now you can just lift each tier and it's quick, simple and easy!
I remember reading the post by Indy when she really did decide to use the center dowel and deliver a cake already assembled for the first time--It took some convincing but she did it and you can too!! You just have to hammer the dowel into the cakes with authority--"I think I can, I think I can" and even though you might feel a slight resistance when you hit the first cardboard rounds, keep hammering--it'll work!!!
thanks everyone. I think im going to skip the center dowel this time since the cake will be assembled at the venue and will likely only be set up for an hour before we cut it. I hope it will be okay. I have everything make up and ready to go. As soon as my little man goes to bed tonight ill begin decorating. I think ill keep the cakes refrigerated at much as possible. Im sure the icing will be fine out, but im not so sure about the mousse. Better safe than sorry! Thanks for all the advice!
I just did my first stacked cake with SPS. Thanks Leahs! It was very easy, but I still didn't trust it to put it together before delivery..and it was only two tiers. LOL. I sat in the backseat while hubby drove. Nervous wreck....I was too!
Definitely affordable and easy to use. I'm still working on getting everything the right height as far as cake, filling, and icing, but that will come with time. It was easy enough to keep a little ruler next to me.