Straws Vs Dowels

Decorating By klutz Updated 24 Jan 2009 , 5:49pm by jamiecrouse

klutz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 4:20pm
post #1 of 34

First...this is so awesome that I can get all the questions i've been compiling for 2 years answered by real people doing real decorating. Thanks CC!!

Now onto business. I've heard some mention of straws to support cake tiers. I've looked this up before somewhere else (don't know where), and the reports were conflicting. It seems like straws would be safer and cleaner than dowels, but I don't want to try that and have one of my cakes collapse. What do you guys know?

33 replies
countrygirlz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 4:30pm
post #2 of 34

I asked the same question awhile back and yes you can use straws, make sure they aren't the bendy kind. One person even said to use skewers inside your straws to make them more stable. Yes CC is a great help and even better when you can help someone else out icon_smile.gif good luck!! I have learned so much from the CC community and every cake keeps looking better!!

countrygirlz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 4:32pm
post #3 of 34

and I think that the dowels are perfered more but straws will work

leah_s Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 4:42pm
post #4 of 34

dowels are probably the #1 reason cakes fall.

Try SPS.

hsdwidow Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 4:52pm
post #5 of 34

I was watching Ace of Cakes last night and swore I saw Duff using red straws. I had never thought of it before last night, and now here it is on Cake Central, that's so funny.

klutz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 4:54pm
post #6 of 34

yeah, i get that. I dowel all my cakes, and i once had one perfectly straight, then when i got it to the reception, it started collapsing. I took it apart on site, and the bottom dowels had slipped in the cake, so a couple of them were leaning inside the cake and the weight of the cake was pushing them down even further.

I think i'll definately switch to the sps for my larger cakes. It's the smaller 2 tiers for birthdays that i'm still considering.

LaTasha Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 4:57pm
post #7 of 34

Well I believe Ace of Cakes they use these big straws I think they are called bobo tea straws you could probably do a search on ebay for them.

Good Luck

countrygirlz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 5:06pm
post #8 of 34

and I think that the dowels are perfered more but straws will work

leah_s Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 5:17pm
post #9 of 34

I use SPS on EVERY tiered cake. EVery one. I don't want a customer's 2 tier cake to collapse nor to I want a customer's 5 teir cake to collapse.

saramachen Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 5:21pm
post #10 of 34

The straws that duff uses are bubble tea straws. Bubble tea is a chinese drink (i think) and its has little "balls" of i don't know what floating in it so the straw has to be larger diameter so you can drink the "floating stuff" - I haven't ever tried bubble tea, but i think my discription of it just grossed me out enough to not try it.

Its incredible how much weight a something standing vertically can support... however straws make me uneasy.... I just picture how many times i've cursed at a straw in a drink as it bends and breaks in the cup causing the straw to be useless.... so i stick with dowels.... however i agree with leahs that SPS is the best and use it for larger cakes... for example the cake i am doing now is a 8" & 6" square... not to big so i used 4 dowels to support the top layer and one dowel through the whole cake.

klutz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 5:39pm
post #11 of 34

I didn't mean that 2-tiers are less important. I would be heartbroken if some little girls princess cake collapsed on her because of my construction. But i've never had a problem with dowels in 2-tiered cakes, except that I worry about one of them splintering or something.

Dolcesensazione Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 5:44pm
post #12 of 34

I used bubble tea straws for my daughter's wedding cake, I used more of them, as I was afraid of collapsing, the cake had to travel for about 1 hr and I'm not a professional and it was my very first cake ever, I must say it didn't even move one bit. icon_smile.gif

Eisskween Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 5:45pm
post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by saramachen

The straws that duff uses are bubble tea straws. Bubble tea is a chinese drink (i think) and its has little "balls" of i don't know what floating in it so the straw has to be larger diameter so you can drink the "floating stuff" - I haven't ever tried bubble tea, but i think my discription of it just grossed me out enough to not try it.





I have had the fortune (or misfortune) of trying bubble (boba) tea. The little "pearls" are tapioca. I found them disgusting and akin to having lung congestion, if you know what I mean. thumbsdown.gif Just nasty. But some people like the texture of oysters too, and I don't, to each his own; so that's the lowdown on that.

The bubble tea itself was good and I was able to check out one of the straws. They are a heavier gauge than regular straws, a thicker plastic is used. I just ordered a case and will let you know how they work out. If they don't... bubble tea anyone? icon_wink.gif

The SPS system that Leahs is speaking of is the best when it comes to stacking though. thumbs_up.gif

klutz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 5:59pm
post #14 of 34

Nice to have that bubble tea description. I know I won't be giving that a try. As for the straws, we'll see. Let me know how they work for you.
thx

MacsMom Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 6:14pm
post #15 of 34

Bubble tea straws are easier because you can cut them with scissors, and are more stable then dowels IF you buy a good brand!

I bought a bunch online to try for the time - they were cheap and there must ba a reason - they are NOT heavy plastic and I fear they will crumple under the weight of 3 tiers.

So I have been hammering wooden dowels down into 3 layers of foam core board to keep them in place. As stable as it is to do so, it is a pain in the bootie, so I may be looking to see if there another brand of bubble tea straws that are heavy duty - especially since I noticed that that is Duff uses on Ace of Cakes.

sweetpea223 Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 6:21pm
post #16 of 34

I'm sorry you didn't like the bubble tea. They really are not gross...as Eisskween said, they are big tapioca balls. I guess it also depends on what flavor you order...but it is a good refreshment in summer.

Anyway, I am going to try to use straws to support my 3 tier cake...but will still put dowels inside it. I was a little concerned in inserting dowels in the cake so I decided to put the straws and put the dowels inside. This way, any concerns of not being food safety would be out of the question.

Klutz, give the bubble tea a try. It's not really disgusting. I guess it must just be a texture thing for others.

countrygirlz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 6:30pm
post #17 of 34

and here I thought that dowels were better icon_redface.gif I've learned something new icon_smile.gif I will now be trying a different way of making a tiered cake

Eisskween Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 6:30pm
post #18 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacsMom

So I have been hammering wooden dowels down into 3 layers of foam core board to keep them in place.




Oh, I always put a dowel straight through the middle. I would never trust just dowels or straws.

Sweetpea, you are right, it's a texture thing with me. Otherwise the tea was yummy! I just didn't like the tapioca pearls. I'll try anything once. And it was the green chai flavor, which I love.

Enjoy your day ladies! icon_biggrin.gif

klutz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 6:38pm
post #19 of 34

I noticed Duff's straws a while ago, but just didn't trust that idea. didn't know there were different thicknesses. Wonder if he really uses them for everything, or if there's a lot of editing (they do look better than a chunk of wood); and if they really hold up that well for him.

mandice Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 6:43pm
post #20 of 34

i love bubble tea! but it really is to each their own. lots of bubble tea places (in Toronto, at least) offer different jellies for those who dont like the tapioca.. i.e. lychee jelly, green apple jelly, etc.. i mean, all it is is a flavoured tea so even if you got it sans tapioca or jelly, it's still a pretty tasty drink icon_biggrin.gif

and i like the idea of using those since i've hade pretty bad experiences with dowels.. and i've used them twice so far, and so far so good, but what's sps? i've been trying to figure it out for the last few mins, but i figure why hurt my brain (lol) when i can just ask?

thanks!

MacsMom Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 6:43pm
post #21 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eisskween

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacsMom

So I have been hammering wooden dowels down into 3 layers of foam core board to keep them in place.



Oh, I always put a dowel straight through the middle. I would never trust just dowels or straws.




I hammer dowels all the way through cake and INTO foamcore board. You have to tug on them to pull them out of the foam core when you are slicing the cake - they don't budge.

sugarshack Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 6:49pm
post #22 of 34

i use bubble tea straws and 2 center dowels and never had a cake fail (KOW). Straws are really wide, and way more stable that skinny dowels.

LaBellaFlor Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:02pm
post #23 of 34

I made a 2-tier cake and used regular straws & it worked fine. Actually, I also used regular straws for a 3-tiered cake covered in fondant decorated in royal icing. I didn't have any problems with that either. This is the first I've heard of bubble tea straws, but glad to know about them, cause I have been looking for a thicker straw. I read in this cake book the actual science on how straws actually give better support then dowels, because of the way it displaces the cake. Depending on how high the cake I would also incorporate wooden dowels too.

klutz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:09pm
post #24 of 34

sps (single plate system) are the cheap plastic cake plates with plastic pre-cut tubes. Kinda' like what you use for separated column cakes. instead of having the columns between the cakes, the go into the cake like a dowel (or straw), then the plate pushes on top.

cherrycakes Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 7:49pm
post #25 of 34

Does anyone use the Wilton plastic (about 3/4 inch in diameter) dowels for tiered cakes? Are they fairly stable?

klutz Posted 23 Jan 2009 , 8:15pm
post #26 of 34

haven't tried them for stacked cakes, but they look the same as the sps to me. then again, i've never used the sps (not yet). I looked it all up in my catalogs today and the look the same as far as i can see. Don't know if they're the same thickness or not.

clmiller1206 Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 4:22am
post #27 of 34

If you are like me and hate having to cut wooden dowels, check out an Asian grocery store. A couple of weeks ago, I found packages of 50 bubble tea straws for $1.99, which I thought was a good price. They are wider than regular drinking straws and made of much stronger plastic. They are so easy to cut and worked just fine for the 2-tier cake I made and transported about 30 miles. Five of those miles are the *&$#@ bumpy gravel road that I live on. I think I held my breath until I reached the highway, but the cake traveled fine and was perfectly stable until it was cut. I haven't had a chance to try them on anything larger yet.

klutz Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 2:30pm
post #28 of 34

thanks. i live in a rural area, but am going into the city today. I'll see if i can find a few like that.

summernoelle Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 2:44pm
post #29 of 34

Do not use wooden dowels. EVER. I had a wedding cake crack because of them. I cannot stress that enough-they shift, and cause cracking and collapses.

I wouldn't use straws, either. So many people are into them, and love using them. I just don't see how they are strong enough. I would say at the very least use the large plastic tubes, which is what I do for smaller, 2 tiered cakes. But SPS is by far the safest option.

Eisskween Posted 24 Jan 2009 , 2:53pm
post #30 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacsMom

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eisskween

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacsMom

So I have been hammering wooden dowels down into 3 layers of foam core board to keep them in place.



Oh, I always put a dowel straight through the middle. I would never trust just dowels or straws.



I hammer dowels all the way through cake and INTO foamcore board. You have to tug on them to pull them out of the foam core when you are slicing the cake - they don't budge.




Absolutely Macs Mom! Totally agree here! icon_biggrin.gif

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