Help/advice For Better/easier Tiered Cakes Please...

Decorating By sweet1122 Updated 16 Mar 2009 , 5:24pm by Delynn

sweet1122 Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 5:48pm
post #1 of 17

I've made two tiered cakes recently. First, I'm done with dowels. I'll try the straws and SPS for a real serious cake. But I'm not spending an hour sawing dowels again. Forget it. In assembling the tiers is where i'm losing it. I spend all this time getting a perfectly smooth cake and I go to place the top tier and I screw it all up. I saw a video where the dowels were left elevated and I thought that would be the answer, but that's what I did last night and I had to catch the cake, thus leaving lovely hand prints in my BC. Yes, I smoothed it over fairly well, but its SO frustrating. I feel like I'm dropping it on and praying it will land where its supposed to. I want to keep practicing, but I don't know what to do different. Any advice is really appreciated. Thanks so much for the help!

Vent: I spent more time cutting boards, wrapping boards, and sawing dowels, than I spent on the actual icing/decorating of the cake. I had to skimp on the decorating and I was SO disappointed. It turned out fine, but it wasn't what I hoped for. I just ran out of time. TFL...

16 replies
leah_s Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 5:55pm
post #2 of 17

You need SPS. I'm serious when I say that you can slide the tier into place. No no dropping ever needed. And it's cheap. Look at www. Oasis Supply .com.

stlcakelady Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 6:08pm
post #3 of 17

I hear a lot of people pushing the sps system, and I don't doubt that it is good. However, my cakes are too tall to use the system. Fondant cakes are not a problem in stacking, however buttercream does pose some issues. To help with that I bought some super heavy duty metal spatulas with wooden handles from a restaurant supply store. You know, the kind they use to flip burgers. They come in all sizes. Then I scoop up the cake with two spatulas, and since they're wide (like 4 inches across) I don't worry about dropping the cakes. I then set the cake down on the dowels. I use the large white tube-like dowels that wilton makes. I don't push them all the way in the cake, but almost. Then the weight of the cake should push the dowels the rest of the way in.

MichelleM77 Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 6:17pm
post #4 of 17

I second SPS....thanks to Leahs' recommendation.

sweet1122 Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 6:32pm
post #5 of 17

Can SPS be reused? Or is it a one-time thing?

peg818 Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 6:34pm
post #6 of 17

To avoid spending so much time sawing your dowels, Get yourself a pair of pvc pipe cutters, they are like a heavy duty pair of scissors that will cut through a 1/4 in dowel like cutting butter.

As far as the boards. The best thing i bought was a mat cutter, it cuts circles and ovals it does make a slight beveled edge but its the easiest thing i have ever used to cut a cake board. (i saw this is a demo last year at the macs show) I found mine at Michaels with a coupon it wasn't too bad.

MichelleM77 Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 6:41pm
post #7 of 17

I guess it could be reused, but it's not worth the time and trouble getting it back from the customer for a few dollars. Add it in to the price of the cake or if you are making enough on the cake, then a few dollars is worth your aggravation.

I used it on my first ever tiered cake and had no problems at all. It was the first time I was delivering a cake to a customer too, and I had the grandmother of the birthday girl over my shoulder asking me questions. OMG was I nervous! I'm new to cakes, usually just drop off a box of cookies and run. LOL!

KoryAK Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 6:54pm
post #8 of 17

If you chill your cakes before stacking, you won't have nearly as many finger issues.

indydebi Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 9:34pm
post #9 of 17

If you're having this kind of problem, I'd definitely go with the SPS.

I don't understand how you spend "an hour" cutting dowels. icon_confused.gif For a 3 or 4 tier cake, I cut 4 dowels per tier, and it takes me about 10 minutes. (So for a 3 tier cake, I cut 8 dowels .... 4 tier cakes, I cut 12). I use a small, kitchen size hack saw.

To place the cake, I use my icing spatula to lower the cake onto the lower tier. Before removing the spatula, check to see that it's centered. If not, lift and adjust. Then pull spatula out from under the cake.

I've been doing BC and wooden dowels for 30 years.

sweet1122 Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 10:27pm
post #10 of 17
Quote:
Quote:

I don't understand how you spend "an hour" cutting dowels.




I used a small $3 hacksaw I got at Lowe's that made cutting the dowels feel like I was trying to cut through solid 2 inch thick metal. I started at 11pm and was done at 10 to midnight. 8 dowels. No kidding. No breaks. Straight cutting. And I sawed my table in the process too icon_sad.gif

sweet1122 Posted 6 Mar 2009 , 10:31pm
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Quote:

To place the cake, I use my icing spatula to lower the cake onto the lower tier. Before removing the spatula, check to see that it's centered. If not, lift and adjust. Then pull spatula out from under the cake.




When you do this, does the spatula not touch the lower tier and mess up the icing as you pull your spatula out? Or are your dowels elevated above the cake? And do you use your hand for additional support or is the cake completely balanced on the spatula, because I don't think my spatula is that strong...

Sorry, I feel retarded asking such specific questions. You probably think I don't have the first clue what I'm doing. icon_redface.gif

indydebi Posted 7 Mar 2009 , 2:55am
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweet1122

And I sawed my table in the process too icon_sad.gif




icon_lol.gif Sounds like the I Love Lucy episode where she made her own dress and cut the carpet! icon_lol.gif

Meant to add: Cut your dowels on a block of wood, like a short piece of 2x4. I have a wooden cutting board that has a handle I can use. As you cut the dowels, the saw goes into the 2x4 and not into your table.

(And get a better saw!) thumbs_up.gif

indydebi Posted 7 Mar 2009 , 3:00am
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sweet1122

When you do this, does the spatula not touch the lower tier and mess up the icing as you pull your spatula out? Or are your dowels elevated above the cake? And do you use your hand for additional support or is the cake completely balanced on the spatula, because I don't think my spatula is that strong...

Sorry, I feel retarded asking such specific questions. You probably think I don't have the first clue what I'm doing. icon_redface.gif



No, it's a good question ... because I DID mess up the icing a time or doing this. But there's an easy fix to my stupidity! icon_biggrin.gif

I use my hands to put the tiers in place. As I lower the tier into place, I'm standing in the back of the cake, the front of the cake is lowered into place first (eyeball it ... is it centered ok?). As I lower the back end of the cake into place, I hold it with one hand and get my spatula, slip it under the edge of the cake as I remove my hand. Use the spatula to lower the cake in place.

To pull the spatula out, give an ever so slight hardly perceptible "lift" with the spatula as you glide it right out. *IF* it messes up and icing, it's on the backside of the cake and can be easily camoflauged. With the slight lift, though, you shouldn't have any problem.

A couple of times, I set the cake up from the front, pulled the spatula out and caught the icing. icon_redface.gif That's when I figured out to set it up from the back! icon_biggrin.gif

The dowels are not elevated when I sit the cake down.

yh9080 Posted 10 Mar 2009 , 10:16pm
post #14 of 17

I have found that Fiskers pruning shears cut wooden dowels easily and effortlessly. If I'm not mistaken, they have a straight blade. The curved blades will cut them at an angle.

Toptier Posted 10 Mar 2009 , 10:24pm
post #15 of 17

Peg, does that mat cutter you purchased cut thru foam core? Or do you just use regular ole cardboard...

Sounds interesting, hmm...I'm going to go take a look at it.

sugarshack Posted 10 Mar 2009 , 11:32pm
post #16 of 17

i use 1/2 fomecore under each tier ( easy to cut and cover)

bubble tea straws for support ( cut with scissors, so easy)

I leave the straws out cake a little bit

flash freeze the tier for 10 minutes

lift it with hand with the aid of the flipper, place on straws and let it sink down

little to no BC damage this way. easy cheap supports, center dowel and very very stable!

HTH

Delynn Posted 16 Mar 2009 , 5:24pm
post #17 of 17

I've seen them used on Ace of Cakes and have heard a lot about them. Where can I buy them and approx. how much are they? icon_smile.gif

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