Tiered Cake Questions From A Newbie Plz Help!

Decorating By tujy Updated 23 Jun 2009 , 7:29pm by FromScratch

tujy Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 9:11am
post #1 of 6

hi everyone,

i'm attempting a 2 tiered cake for my brothers 21st birthday party coming up VERY soon. i'm doing a trial run first to see if i can even do it or not. i have read many different websites/youtube and would really appreciate it if somebody could read thru this post to check if my plan sounds feasible.

ok, so here it goes...

i want to make a triple layer cake for each tier. the plan is 1 layer packet mix choc walnut brownies, 1 layer packet mix regular chocolate cake, and 1 layer packet mix vanilla cake. i'll probably be relying on betty crocker mixes to make the process a bit easier than baking from scratch. they'll be sandwiched together with chocolate ganache, and i will use the ganache to cover the whole tier to get a smooth surface. then i will roll out some store bought ready to roll icing (orchard brand) and try to cover each tier. i haven't settled on a design/colour scheme yet so i'll probably be kneading in some gel paste colouring at some point. i am considering also using the ready to roll icing to make shapes, etc and attach them to wire, letting them dry hard and spiking them into the upper tier.

ok here are some questions i had which i couldn't find answers to online:

Q: are regular choc/vanilla cakes too spongy to be used in tiers? i have seen alot of bakeries like "planet cake" use mud cake but i don't like mudcake, so i opted for a combo of brownies and regular choc and vanilla cake instead? are these cakes ok to use for tiered cakes?

Q: can i use drinking straws/bubble tea straws as dowels to support the upper tier? each tier will be maybe 3 inches tall and the top tier will be maybe 6-7 inches wide.

Q: i'm going to buy some cardboard cakeboard which has silver on one side of it. is it suitable as the BASE layer? or too weak to support 2 tiers of cake? should i opt for the wooden foil covered cakeboard for the base? also are there any cheap alternatives for the cakeboard under the top tier?

Q: what type of wire do i use to spike INTO the cake? is it regular florist wire? i was once told that regular florist wire shouldn't be used to stick into the cake because it rusts? is this true? i've seen many cakes with decorations on wires spiked into the top layer of a cake. the wire i'm considering is the one found in the same section as gumpaste, etc to make sugar flowers. it is already covered in green paper - can i peel this green off?

thank you in advance icon_smile.gif

5 replies
MegnD83 Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 9:41am
post #2 of 6

Your cake choices sound fine as long as the brownie layer is on the bottom, yes you can use the bubble tea straws to support the tier, and for your other 2 questions here is a bump...

lindayvette Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 10:09am
post #3 of 6

actually i would disagree with MegnD83...you do not want to use anything flimsy as your support, such as the dowels, because they are what SUPPORT your tiers afterall...definitely go wood or plastic, preferably plastic (hollow). you can find them at michaels and other artsy supply stores.

i've read, but never used, that regular florist's wire is OKAY..afterall it'll only be in the cake for a day or two. but like i said, i haven't used it yet...

cake mixes sound really yummy, i've never used brownie mix before, but definitely will try now..good luck with those...

and as for your cardboard-support questions...cheap is never good. although there are some alternatives to buying the actual boards/bases from stores, for a cake of that size, i would rather be safe than sorry. you don't want all your hard work going to waste all because of the crummy support...

oh and one more thing...in your explanation you mentioned covering the cake in ganache and then in ready to roll icing..i'm assuming you mean fondant...and if so..i've never tried applying fondant on a ganache covered cake...usually only use buttercream as the "glue" for the fondant...let me know how that goes.

good luck and happy baking! icon_smile.gif

FromScratch Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 10:41am
post #4 of 6

Hi there...

To answer your questions....

1. You can use the cakes you listed in a tiered cake so long as the tiers are supported. Especially with the ganache... they will be plenty sturdy for you.

2. You can use bubble tea straws to support your cake. MANY decorators use them (even for larger tiered cakes). Duff and crew use them... I know Sharon (sugarshack) uses them too. I have used them in a pinch too, but only for smaller cakes (like the one you are planning).

3. Unless you are taking about a cake drum (which is usually about 1/2 an inch thick and foil covered) I would use something thicker to support your cake... you can even glue a few of those cardboard boards together (just be sure to make the corregation lines run perpendicular to eachother and not parallel and it will be nice and sturdy) then you can glue ribbon to the edge to finish it. A single layer cardboard cake board will be plenty fine for supporting the top tier though.

4. For the wire, you can glue a straw onto the base of the wire and stick that into the cake. I use a low heat hot glue gun and stick the wire into the sraw and then pump some glue into the topto adhere it to the straw. You can also dip the ends in chocolate before sticking them into the cake.

I just wanted to add that covering a ganache covered cake with fondant is easy and actually is a great way to get nice sharp corners... just make sure that you use a recipe for ganache that is meant for this purpose. You don't want to use a soft ganache for this... if you are going for a dark chocolate use a 2:1 ratio of chocolate to cream and if you are doing a white chocolate use a 3:1 ratio. You want it nice and firm for the outer coating. icon_smile.gif

tujy Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 2:15pm
post #5 of 6

thank you guys for the responses icon_smile.gif
i like the choc dipping wire trick, although i'm not sure about using wire anymore after reading a thread about how there may be lead in it??

i had a few more questions...

Q. when its time to cut the cake, do you cut up the top tier first? does the force of pushing a knife down into the cake (especially if its a thick dense cake) collapse the lower tiers (espec if you're using the bubble tea straws as supports)?

Q: what is an alternative to fondant smoothers?

Q: should i chill/freeze the cakes before i ganache them? and with the ganache do i have to do two coats? i.e. crumb coat it if its going to end up covered in fondant?

FromScratch Posted 23 Jun 2009 , 7:29pm
post #6 of 6

When you go to cut the cake, take the top tier off and I usually cut the bigger tier first, that way if there is leftovers, it's the smaller tier and easier to store. Fondant smoothers really are a necessary tool to get really smooth fondant, but your hands will get it pretty smooth though, especially with the ganache. And I recommend not chilling your cake before ganaching since the cold will cause the ganache to clump up on you. You should be able to get away with no crumb coating it, but it won't hurt if you do... just warm up the ganache so it's thin but not warm and you can use that to crumb it and then ganache it and let it set up until nice and firm... Planet Cake recommends overnight, but it will be firm before then. You can either spritz it with a little water or brush it with thinned apricot jam so that the fondnt will stickto the cake. icon_smile.gif

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