Do I Need To Use Dowels

Decorating By cakelovincrazy Updated 29 Jun 2009 , 7:53pm by BlakesCakes

cakelovincrazy Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 10:16pm
post #1 of 19

I'm doing a 3 layer cake using 9 in pans that are 1 1/2 in deep. It's going to be a red velvet cake (WASC) with Cream Cheese frosting.
Will I need to use dowels for support or will be fine on it's own?
If I did a 4th layer would I then need the dowels for support? I might add a 4th layer, not sure yet.

18 replies
Sparklepop Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 10:27pm
post #2 of 19

Yes you definitely need dowels, that is what supports the cakes.
Even is it was only 2 layers you would still need them. thumbs_up.gif

cathie_shinnick Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 10:48pm
post #3 of 19

Better to be safe than sorry. I learned that the hard way.

GayeG Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 10:55pm
post #4 of 19

Did I miss something here?
You are doing a 3 LAYER cake NOT a 3 TIER cake?????
Why would you use dowels for a 3 or even 4 LAYER cake???? Or even 5???

Tiers are a different story - anything over 1 tier needs dowels and supports -
BUT NOT layers!

Hmmmmmm Maybe I missed something icon_sad.gif

jlynnw Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 10:56pm
post #5 of 19

layers or tiers? I make a cake in the 9 inch pan, torte all three layers for a total of 6 layers and make one (1) tall cake and no dowels. Never had a problem with it.

GayeG Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 11:05pm
post #6 of 19

Well whew jlynnw! I was starting to think I was the ONLY one a little kooky! When the others were saying "yeah-yeah" - I was thinking I was really off my game tonight!! icon_wink.gif
I could not figure out for the life of me WHY they were saying yeah!!!

Im glad Im not crazy(er) than I thought I was! icon_smile.gif

jlynnw Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 11:08pm
post #7 of 19

no, it says she is using 9 inch pans, 1 1/2 inch deep. I don't know why you would use dowels. I just made a cake today that is nearly 8 inches tall, lemon cake, lemon curd cream filling, and white chocolate buttercream and it is doing fine. IDK, I must be missing something too!

BlakesCakes Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 11:15pm
post #8 of 19

The general rule is that every 4 inches of cake you require a separate board and dowels for cakes above it.

You have 4 1/2 inches of cake.

I'd say that if your filling isn't too much or too heavy, you should be fine.

BUT, if you go with another layer, then yes, I'd say that boarding & dowling the upper two layers is a very good idea--especially with a soft icing like cream cheese and a finicky cake like red velvet.


GayeG Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 11:20pm
post #9 of 19

OMG! That cakes sounds just like what "I" would order from someone!! I love the whole lemony thingy! I am soooo drooling!! haha

Some of my cakes are pretty tall too - and I almost always torte to 6 layers when I want tall - I love the way it looks when cut plus I like the cake/filling ratio you get with torting that many layers - and I have NEVER used any dowels ... I mean, what good does wooden dowels do for a layer cake? The whole purpose of a dowel is to support the tier above it .. not the tier itself ..
Anyways - glad to know it wasnt just moi!

GayeG Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 11:26pm
post #10 of 19

Well, I guess I can say I learned something today BlakesCakes ~ Because as long as Ive been baking, Ive never heard that general rule - so have never applied it - and can say honestly - Im glad Ive never had a problem with that! And have done many RV with cream cheese - guess I just got lucky because I have NEVER not once had a problem - other than forgetting to dam - and thats a different story! icon_wink.gif
So thanks for enlightening me - if I ever have a prob with that many tiers - I will surely say - Well, BlakesCakes told me so icon_smile.gif

jlynnw Posted 28 Jun 2009 , 11:31pm
post #11 of 19

thanks blakescakes! I did not know that rule either. I have not had a problem with mine but I guess it is only the one cake and never tiered. Learn something new everyday on CC

cakelovincrazy Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 12:20am
post #12 of 19

Just to make sure I understand, I do not need to use dowels unless I'm doing tiers?
This is just a 3, maybe 4 layer cake.
Should I torte each layer? I was just going to frost in between each layer, but do you think it would look better if each one was torted?

This is the cake I'm trying to replicate. I'm not sure what size pans she used, but the only size I have is 9 in.

After looking at the cake do you think I should do 3 or 4 layers?

kakeladi Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 12:42am
post #13 of 19

I would say 3 layers but then I usually work w/two 2" layers so for you to use 3 layers is about the same as if I used 2 icon_smile.gif

leah_s Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 12:50am
post #14 of 19

layers = no need for support, as you're not supporting anything.

tiers = need dowels (better yet SPS) for support, because you ARE supporting cake.

Layers are not the same as tiers. Layers build up to make a tier.

icer101 Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 12:58am
post #15 of 19

i make carrot cake all the time, using 3 2"layers.. i put cream cheese icing inbetween each layer.. then refrigerate. then i ice the cake all over.. put back in frig. to set up.. then stick in freezer to little bit. right before they pick it up.. i box it up.. never have used dowels. i just dowel tiered cakes.. i make red velvet cakes the same way... coconot cakes the same way.. if i make 2 2" layers , then i torte them.. and put the frosting inbetween.. and do as i do the other cakes i mentioned..hth

CookiezNCupcakez Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 2:58am
post #16 of 19
Originally Posted by leahs

layers = no need for support, as you're not supporting anything.

tiers = need dowels (better yet SPS) for support, because you ARE supporting cake.

Layers are not the same as tiers. Layers build up to make a tier.

what is sps? icon_redface.gif

jlynnw Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 3:56am
post #17 of 19

single plate system (?) the best way to stack cakes. There is a sticky on how they work.

GayeG Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 11:50am
post #18 of 19
Originally Posted by leahs

layers = no need for support, as you're not supporting anything.

tiers = need dowels (better yet SPS) for support, because you ARE supporting cake.

Layers are not the same as tiers. Layers build up to make a tier.

Well, Im happy to come back this A.M. and see I wasnt crazy(er) after all ... Because this is EXACTLY what me and jlynnw said to begin with!

Whew - I feel better now that it wasnt just us! icon_wink.gif

BlakesCakes Posted 29 Jun 2009 , 7:53pm
post #19 of 19

The point of boards and supports (dowels, sps, whatever) is to evenly displace the weight above those things--be that additional cake layers, cake tiers, a topper, etc. The boards and supports increase stability and prevent crushing of the cake below.

Tiers are nothing more than additional cake layers. They may be smaller in diameter, or a different shape, but they're still just added layers of cake. If merely adding cake layers without support was always OK, then there would NEVER be a need for boards and dowels.

Of course you can simply stack layer upon layer--reach for the sky--but for every layer you add above 4 inches, the weight you add begins to crush the layers below. This causes instability issues that can lead to shifting and/or collapse.

Cake type can play into your decision. If you're working with a really dense pound cake, you can get away with less support. If you're not using any filling, or using a dense filling, less support may be OK, too. If you're using a soft cake or slippery filling, added support may save your butt big time.

So, I'll clarify: If you want a very stable cake that will maintain it's height, you should use a board and supports about every 4 inches of cake.

Me? I refuse to put in a lot of work on any cake--6 inches high, 36 inches high, whatever, only to have it ruined because I took shortcuts on the infrastructure.


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