Dowels Versus Straws...help Me Choose Please

Decorating By harrison Updated 14 Nov 2008 , 12:11am by -K8memphis

harrison Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 3:38am
post #1 of 18

Hi everyone,
Gees I've asked a lot of questions today, and so many people have been so nice and helpful. I thought I'd give it one more before going to bed. I usually use wooden dowels for support, but I saw somewhere about using ??Japanese straws?? Are these as strong as dowels, and if so, where do I get them? I am tired of using dowels that split and are hard for me to cut. Thanks for your expert opinion, as always.

17 replies
forthwife Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 3:52am
post #2 of 18

I don't know about wooden dowels, I've never used them because they are a pain to cut!! I use "Bubble Tea Straws". They are made to drink a tapioca drink, thus the straws are wider so the tapioca doesn't get stuck. I've only done 2 tier cakes using them, but they are GREAT!!! They can be purchased online, but nearly all Asian grocers cary them. If you live in Orlando, PM me and I'll give you the address where I buy mine. Good luck!

Monkess Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 11:00am
post #3 of 18

I know dowels are a pain to cut but nothing beats the security that comes with them!

leah_s Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 12:26pm
post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkess

I know dowels are a pain to cut but nothing beats the security that comes with them!




You're kidding right?

Dowels are probably the #1 reason cakes fall.

SPS (or the more expensive SFS) - now nothing beats the security of those systems.

LaDulceria Posted 12 Nov 2008 , 11:56pm
post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by leahs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkess

I know dowels are a pain to cut but nothing beats the security that comes with them!



You're kidding right?

Dowels are probably the #1 reason cakes fall.

SPS (or the more expensive SFS) - now nothing beats the security of those systems.




i´m about to face my first time using dowels on a cake and here it comes this....perfect timing....
what´s a SPS? (sorry...completly new in all of this)
how do you normally get to cut your dowels without loosing a finger?
Which is the best way to stacked a cake?
I heard about straws before...does it really work?
thanks for your help.
icon_smile.gif

jennifer7777 Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 12:23am
post #6 of 18

Straws!! Check your local asian food supply. Here's a website, too...
www.bobateadirect.com

stlcakelady Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 12:24am
post #7 of 18

I hear everybody talking about how great the sps is, and I don't doubt it. However, my cakes are taller than the average cake, so the sps won't work for me. I use Wilton's plastic dowels, found at Michael's and cake stores. I've never had a problem at all using them...although the most I've ever stacked was 5 cakes. They're easy to cut, don't displace any cake except for what's stuck in the tube and they don't bend. I also run a wooden dowel down through the center of all cakes to the bottom for added security when traveling.

leah_s Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 12:34am
post #8 of 18

With SPS you can make your tiers 4" tall or 5" tall. Those are both standard SPS leg lengths. And the only cake that's displaced is what goes into the legs. You dont' need a center dowel because SPS is very secure.

The center dowel is such false security anyway. There are **plenty** of stories on here about cakes moving sideways where the dowel stays stuck into the bottom board and tears right through the cake.

For more info on SPS, see my signature line.

And no, :sigh: I don't have any financial interest in the SPS company.

kakeladi Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 2:16am
post #9 of 18

stlcakelady said: I use Wilton's plastic dowels, found at Michael's and cake stores. I've never had a problem....

Those 'dowels' are basically the same thing that the SPS uses for 'legs' except longer so one can cut them to any heigth. Then instead of using cake circles you put the cake on a plastic plate. This is much more sturdy.

.....dowels are a pain to cut but nothing beats the security that comes with them!........
Yah, that is until you have a cake shift and fall icon_sad.gif Some day you will find outicon_sad.gif It was something like 10 yrs of decorating before I had that happen.....I guess I got complacent. But then, this cake was delivered to a venue where the people had hooked up a huge industrial swamp cooler (which raises the humidity!).

-K8memphis Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 3:59am
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by leahs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkess

I know dowels are a pain to cut but nothing beats the security that comes with them!



You're kidding right?

Dowels are probably the #1 reason cakes fall.

SPS (or the more expensive SFS) - now nothing beats the security of those systems.




Misplaced, misaligned dowel would be the #1 reason. The #1 reason for that is pilot error. Professional drivers don't try this at home type of thing.

But it (a cake falling) does happen to the best of us one time or another.

I would not like to have to get my cakes an exact certain height to match my dowel.

And wedding cakes are not the only things that need to be doweled either.

While SPS is a great tool, it locks the user into a system that is inflexible for the variety of cakes that can be produced--for example a purse cake. How you gonna do an 8 inch tall purse cake with sps. Stuff like that. I love the ease of sps. I don't care for the rigidity.

In order to do sculpted work a cake maker needs to know how to dowel properly and securely using wood or plastic.

bcake1960 Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 4:22am
post #11 of 18

ok Im going to jump on in here.. I use the stress free system.. and I can support and size.. I have 14"-3" size rings and was told at one time you can use straws cut to legnth for the odd legnth cakes.. I tried it and it worked great! the straws fit perfectly on the metal pegs and that would keep them from shifting.. pretty much any of my cakes in my photos have the stress free system.. Yeah....stress free system.. Yep its spendy but WELL WORTH THE INVESTMENT!! I charge a hefty return deposit never had a problem yet!!
I wish that no one should have to go through having a cake you worked soo hard on only to crack and fall to pieces..(it happened to me) you wont get that with sfs! just my Opinion..

panchanewjersey Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 4:40am
post #12 of 18

Trial & error. What works for one doesn't work for all. Give them all a try.

-K8memphis Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 2:15pm
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by bcake1960

ok Im going to jump on in here.. I use the stress free system.. and I can support and size.. I have 14"-3" size rings and was told at one time you can use straws cut to legnth for the odd legnth cakes.. I tried it and it worked great! the straws fit perfectly on the metal pegs and that would keep them from shifting.. pretty much any of my cakes in my photos have the stress free system.. Yeah....stress free system.. Yep its spendy but WELL WORTH THE INVESTMENT!! I charge a hefty return deposit never had a problem yet!!
I wish that no one should have to go through having a cake you worked soo hard on only to crack and fall to pieces..(it happened to me) you wont get that with sfs! just my Opinion..




Well you sure could with sfs and sps. If they were not used properly and someone placed them in cake that was too tall for the length of the legs...What if someone put a 6 inch ring into a 16 cake--oopsie. Same is true with dowel if you don't use them correctly your cake will fall.

There is a greater learning curve with dowel not that dowel rods are just lying in wait to crash every cake they come in contact with.

Sps are sfs are more user friendly than cutting dowel rods to custom fit each tier but like I've said before, dowel rods have held up our cakes for centuries.

And SFS would stress the $tuffin$ out of me waiting for someone to return it. I like to use all disposable stuff--everyody is different and it's all fine. But oh yes you sure could screw up with those other systems. Not to mention somebody tossing an ooey gooey expensive particle of equipment and having to deal with all that and making a trip to return it etc when disposable is much easier than all that.

So to me sfs sps and dowel and straws and bamboo skewers are all great cake building tools in the right hands.

strawberry0121 Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 2:37pm
post #14 of 18

I have gone to the bubble straws, too. I have been very happy with them. I love that they are disposable. I never liked using dowel rods.

CakesByLJ Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 2:39pm
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by k8memphis

So to me sfs sps and dowel and straws and bamboo skewers are all great cake building tools in the right hands.




Well said k8! icon_biggrin.gif

stlcakelady Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 3:38pm
post #16 of 18

[quote="leahs"]With SPS you can make your tiers 4" tall or 5" tall. Those are both standard SPS leg lengths. And the only cake that's displaced is what goes into the legs. You dont' need a center dowel because SPS is very secure.

My cakes are taller than 5"...and as I've said, I've never had a cake shift on me. Can someone explain the situations in which it happens. What causes the cake to shift? Is it because the dowels aren't level or not at the same height? I'm curious, because I cut my dowels and then file them on both ends so they're level.

mamacc Posted 13 Nov 2008 , 9:13pm
post #17 of 18

I LOVE the bubble tea straws! I have to use straws/dowels too because 95% of my cakes are sculpted cakes....and I know the center dowel is not a guarantee but they do help a lot. If it's an extra tall/skinny cake then I use more than one spike thru the whole thing and I angle them a little to prevent tipping.

-K8memphis Posted 14 Nov 2008 , 12:11am
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by stlcakelady

... Can someone explain the situations in which it happens. What causes the cake to shift? Is it because the dowels aren't level or not at the same height? I'm curious, because I cut my dowels and then file them on both ends so they're level.




Yes those issues you mentioned plus--ever set a tier on top of another tier and need to scootch it over a bit? That can do it if the dowel aren't just right in the first place. Especially if the cake is not chilled.

Some people put the dowel too far away from where they can bear the weight of the cake--like say for a 14x11x8x5 --they place the dowel in the 14" in a 10" circle to hold up an 11" three tier cake. Aghh, that ain't gonna work.

Some people measure every dowel. I think this is a biggee. They place every dowel and measure it independent of the other ones that all go into the same tier rather than measure one dowel and cut them all that height. Not using enough dowel.

There's probably other ways. Nothing like having a close call to get you concentrating on how to do it right. icon_biggrin.gif

But it's a post like this http://www.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-610256.html that let's you know your future is uncertain with sps alone. icon_lol.gificon_lol.gif

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