5-Tier Stacked ~ Best Method For Stability?

Decorating By kellertur Updated 3 Nov 2009 , 1:56am by kellertur

kellertur Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 5:49pm
post #1 of 35

Next week I have a 5 tier cake due, stacked construction. I've never done a tier cake over 3 tiers. What is the safest, most stable way to construct this? I'm not familiar with the method of driving a dowel down through all, or coring the centers for a thick dowel... Foam core? Dowels? Please, as much info as you can provide will be very appreciated.

Thank you very much.

34 replies
cakeandpartygirl Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 5:55pm
post #2 of 35

Use SPS it is a sticky on I believe the how do I thread. It gives instructions I believe that would be your best bet

vdrsolo Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 6:04pm
post #3 of 35

I second SPS, I travel with 3 tiers stacked all the time, and put the final ones on at the hall (I just can't carry more than 3 stacked for a distance).

cupcakemkr Posted 22 Oct 2009 , 6:05pm
post #4 of 35

Definately use the SPS system Global Sugar Art carries it, it is not expensive and will SAVE you time and stress!!

I think you should consider stacking the first 3 tiers and the top 2 tiers and transport them to the location, then stack those two sections and do finish work.

GOOD LUCK!!

kellertur Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 2:09am
post #5 of 35

Thanks, will the SPS work for a stacked contruction where you aren't supposed to see any separator plates? I haven't been able to download the instructions, but will visit GSA tonight. It's too bad, I just placed an order two nights ago...

bobwonderbuns Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 2:16am
post #6 of 35

The SPS only works if your cakes are EXACTLY a certain height and baked FLAT and frosted FLAT, etc. etc. There's no wiggle room unless you want a gap between tiers. I've used dowels on all my cakes (I have a couple of towering ones in my pix) and have never had a problem.

kellertur Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 2:34am
post #7 of 35

How do you do the dowelling? I've only used straws and this cake will be too heavy. How do you drive a dowel down the center? Or Core each tier? I'm seriously in the dark on this...

thank you

prterrell Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 2:40am
post #8 of 35

You don't have to do the dowel down the center for a dowelled cake. Cut wooden or plastic dowels and use them as you would the straws in your past cakes. If you stack on-site the center dowel is not strictly neccessary. However, if you do choose to use the center dowel, all you have to do is sharpen it to a point (like you would a pencil) and then hammer it through using a rubber mallet. It will pierce all of the cardboards. I have not done this myself, but I have seen it done. I personally prefer the SPS system. Yes, you do have to have everything flat and even, but you want to do that anyway for the cake to look good.

bobwonderbuns Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 2:43am
post #9 of 35

I place 4-5 dowels in a circle in each tier. If the tier is 14 inches for example, I put 5 dowels in it. I put a 10 inch cake board on top of the 14 inch tier to use as a guide to roughly where the dowels should be placed. The board is just a guide so it doesn't stay on the cake. Then I take a 1/4 inch wooden dowel, sink it into the cake, pull it out and measure it. I add maybe 1/4 inch to the height (to accommodate the cake drum or foam core that I use for the boards of each tier) and cut my dowels. Then I run each dowel lightly through a pencil sharpener to get it kind of pointy but not real pointy and certainly not sharp. Then I whack it in with a hammer or rubber mallet. Usually I use a hammer. Because the dowels are now sunk into the cake board that adds stability. I do the same for all the tiers and when the top tier goes on I sink one long dowel through the whole cake and anchor into the bottom cake drum. This keeps the cake from slipping because it's inserted into the drum. It also has to be run through a pencil sharpener or it won't go through all the cake boards. Does that make sense how I've explained it? If you look in my pix, I did that with the Gilda's Club cake, the towering inferno and Megan's wedding cake that I remember offhand.

bobwonderbuns Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 2:45am
post #10 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by prterrell

You don't have to do the dowel down the center for a dowelled cake. Cut wooden or plastic dowels and use them as you would the straws in your past cakes. If you stack on-site the center dowel is not strictly neccessary. However, if you do choose to use the center dowel, all you have to do is sharpen it to a point (like you would a pencil) and then hammer it through using a rubber mallet. It will pierce all of the cardboards. I have not done this myself, but I have seen it done. I personally prefer the SPS system. Yes, you do have to have everything flat and even, but you want to do that anyway for the cake to look good.




I always dowel down the center -- I've heard too many cake horror stories about cakes sliding or even flipping over sideways. No way am I taking a chance with some bride on her wedding day! icon_rolleyes.gif

kellertur Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 3:00am
post #11 of 35

thank you

phoufer Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 3:17am
post #12 of 35

I would definitely use sps. If you want to be sure the cakes are level, torte them, fill and wrap in plastic wrap, place ceramice tile the same size as the cake on top and let settle overnight, then trim off any bulges etc. I do this all the time works great and the cakes are absolutely flat and level. I'm not sure what wonderbuns means by they have to be a certain height?

leah_s Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 3:25am
post #13 of 35

Definitely SPS!

Geez, Bob you make it sound like precise surgery. The tier needs to be 4 - 4.25" tall to use the GC-4S columns, but if you purchase the 9" columns which are scored for easy cutting, then your tier can be any height you want.

I will say it again and again, and it's verified by several horror stories on here. That center dowel is false security. If your cake starts really moving sideways, the center dowel will stay embedded in the bottom board as it tears thru your cake.

SPS - easy, cheap, secure.

Purchase from Global Sugar Arts or Oasis Supply.

Jeff_Arnett Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 3:40am
post #14 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by kellertur

How do you do the dowelling? I've only used straws and this cake will be too heavy. How do you drive a dowel down the center? Or Core each tier? I'm seriously in the dark on this...

thank you


Dowels work the same way as straws.

When I plan for a large tiered cake, I work in the opposite way.....

I have the dowel in my base.....usually 1/2 inch foam core [masonite for really large cakes].

I add six three inch round foamcore circles as "feet" for the board...including one in the center. This raises the board and makes it easy to get fingers under.

I have a set of Foamwerks foamboard drills [about $20 at ACMoore, but they usually have a coupon for 40% off at their website].

I use the drill slightly smaller than the diameter of the dowel I plan to use to drill a hole through the center of the base [1/2 inch thick board + 1/2 inch circle "foot" under the center gives a full inch in which I glue the center dowel]. By using a slightly smaller drill, the dowel fits really tight.

For 3 tiers I use a 3/8 inch dowel, for 4 tiers a 1/2 inch dowel, and for 5 or larger I use a 3/4 inch dowel [and a 1/2 inch thick masonite board]. If the cake is really tall, I use a metal rod instead of wood.

I cut the center dowel about 2 inches small than the total height of the cake and glue it into the hole with some white non-toxic glue like Elmers.

All the cakes are iced on same sized foamcore circles with appropriate sized holes cut in their centers.

I dowel the tiers as needed [I usually put an outer ring of 6 and an inner ring [about 2-3 inches from the center] of 4 in the largest cake if it is more than 4 tiers....other wise 6 in the larger tiers and 4 in the smaller ones.

Each cake's foamcore board has a center hole already cut, so when I am ready to stack the cake, I just slide the tier down over the center dowel....this way the cakes are automatically centered and it makes stacking a breeze and extremely stable.

I would stack 3 tiers then add the final two on site.

There's a diagram showing how to make the base with center dowel on the CC board at

http://cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1420079

Hope this helps.

madgeowens Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 3:54am
post #15 of 35

It really makes it sturdy to put the sharpened dowel down thru all tiers in the center.....only I sharpen it to a point like I would a pencil......why shouldn't I do that Bob? I know there must be a reason you said that...icon_smile.gif

vdrsolo Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 4:08am
post #16 of 35

With SPS, if your filled cakes after settling is under 4" (I try to make mine between 3 3/4 and 3 7/icon_cool.gif, just make sure your build up your icing on top. I like to make my iced cake about 4 1/8, so that the SPS plate will settle just a bit into the icing.

I use my Agbay to get precise layers, and level and torte my layers the exact height for my cakes. I then measure my filling with my scale to have the exact amount of filling I need for my cakes.

aprilbree Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 4:30am
post #17 of 35

vdrsolo, i've had problems with the gap too, and also have thought it would be better for the sps plate to settle into the icing, but I'm worried about a bunch of icing pulling off with the plate. Do you do anything to prevent that, or do is it not really an issue?

bobwonderbuns Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 12:19pm
post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s

Definitely SPS!

Geez, Bob you make it sound like precise surgery. The tier needs to be 4 - 4.25" tall to use the GC-4S columns, but if you purchase the 9" columns which are scored for easy cutting, then your tier can be any height you want.

I will say it again and again, and it's verified by several horror stories on here. That center dowel is false security. If your cake starts really moving sideways, the center dowel will stay embedded in the bottom board as it tears thru your cake.

SPS - easy, cheap, secure.

Purchase from or Oasis Supply.




ha ha ha!! Leah you're so cute! icon_lol.gif Once upon a time I was seriously considering the SPS system. My information comes from decorators who have not only bought and used the system but subsequently thrown them out because of those very issues. I've never had a problem with dowels and the only horror stories I've ever heard from those who have used them are from people who didn't dowel the cakes correctly. But to each is own. I'm comfortable with dowels, never had a problem. It's all good! icon_biggrin.gif

bobwonderbuns Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 12:23pm
post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by madgeowens

It really makes it sturdy to put the sharpened dowel down thru all tiers in the center.....only I sharpen it to a point like I would a pencil......why shouldn't I do that Bob? I know there must be a reason you said that...icon_smile.gif




Because the weight is resting on that point and it could easily snap off. Nobody wants wood in their cake icon_confused.gif or a cake that will slide or worse, flip over! icon_surprised.gif You need the point slightly sharpened or it won't go through the drums but you don't want it soooo sharp that it wants to snap off.

vdrsolo Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 1:46pm
post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by aprilbree

vdrsolo, i've had problems with the gap too, and also have thought it would be better for the sps plate to settle into the icing, but I'm worried about a bunch of icing pulling off with the plate. Do you do anything to prevent that, or do is it not really an issue?




I use a crusting icing but theres a couple of different things you can do.

You can sprinkle some powdered sugar on top of the icing where your plate will go (do not use coconut - some people are allergic to it, or just hate it!), or you can cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to layer over top, you can custom cut it to fit around the legs or just the middle.

But honestly, people who cut the cakes know there's going to be a big mess, and if the icing does come up, they just take their spatula to the bottom of the support plate and just spread it right back onto the cake. Once it is cut, no one knows the difference.

cylstrial Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 2:48pm
post #21 of 35

So did you buy SPS? It's awesome~

susanscakecreations Posted 23 Oct 2009 , 3:12pm
post #22 of 35

Don't mean to hijack, but I have bought the SPS for a 3 tier topsy turvy corpse bride cake that is due for a Halloween wedding..................since reading all these responses, my question is, is it harder to use SPS with a topsy turvy cake?????? I mean, I know the tops are essentially flat, but is SPS harder with this type of cake?
Thanks,
Susan

madgeowens Posted 24 Oct 2009 , 12:54am
post #23 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobwonderbuns

Quote:
Originally Posted by madgeowens

It really makes it sturdy to put the sharpened dowel down thru all tiers in the center.....only I sharpen it to a point like I would a pencil......why shouldn't I do that Bob? I know there must be a reason you said that...icon_smile.gif



Because the weight is resting on that point and it could easily snap off. Nobody wants wood in their cake icon_confused.gif or a cake that will slide or worse, flip over! icon_surprised.gif You need the point slightly sharpened or it won't go through the drums but you don't want it soooo sharp that it wants to snap off.






ahaaaaaaaaaaaaa....I wonderedwhere that extra roughage came from hahahaa.........thanks

kellertur Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 2:43am
post #24 of 35

Jeff ~ thank you for such specifics, I appreciate that. icon_smile.gif

I'm a little confused now... If I do dowel and sharpen the point, is there a risk that the boards will buckle as I'm driving the dowel through them? My fear is that the dowel might stick and bend the board... then it's all over....

Leah ~ Is it easy to find SPS on those sites? I'll look again. I wasn't sure if it was a set or sold in pieces. I'd order the 9" colume since my tiers vary a tiny bit sometimes... I don't have a visual of what this System is, I'll see if I can see it on the website. Thank you very much for the help.

Thanks everyone... I guess I have some brainstorming to do.

Somethin-Sweet Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 3:10am
post #25 of 35

The ivory lace and pearl cake in my photos was 5 layers - driven over 100 miles- completely stacked just like you see it, using SPS...............I will only use this system when I stack anything over 3 layers.. .......its cheap and super easy to use and 100% reliable!

kellertur Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 3:17am
post #26 of 35

Do I need to core the cakes? And if so, who sells the corer? I can't find one on GSA. Is the SPS system sold as a set, or are the pieces all sold individually? I'm seeing columns and plates, not knowing which to buy. I'd definitely need the 9" since my tiers are never "exactly" the same height.

I'm sorry for so many questions... this method is new to me.

Thank you.

Somethin-Sweet Posted 26 Oct 2009 , 3:22am
post #27 of 35

All of the pieces are sold individually. Just buy the pieces you need. I only buy the 4" columns because all of my cakes are baked in 2" pans, so by the time you add the fillings and 2 torted layers of cake, it works out perfectly. And, best of all- no dowels to cut!!!

deliciously_decadent Posted 28 Oct 2009 , 8:29am
post #28 of 35

if you are in the states everyone seems to say sps. if you are in ause we all say central dowel that is stuck to the base board, different methods for different cakes, we use mud cakes here with mostly fondant and our cake cards (for under each tier) are verystrong and thick and hard and you need to pre drill a central hole in each one so that you can thread it over the central dowel attached to your cake board, tuted showing this are in my flickr photostream, both wonky madhatter tute and double barrel/extended tier tutes demonstrate the central dowel support method

bakingatthebeach Posted 28 Oct 2009 , 11:15am
post #29 of 35

My 4 tiered square cake in my pics I used SPS, now dowel cutting, no making sure dowels cut the same size (just a little off the cake leans, learned that the hard way), very easy to construct, wont ever ever ever use anything else! And its cheap, like 1.50 -3 bucks a plate and 4 bucks for 12 legs.

Jeff_Arnett Posted 28 Oct 2009 , 12:03pm
post #30 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by kellertur

Jeff ~ thank you for such specifics, I appreciate that. icon_smile.gif

I'm a little confused now... If I do dowel and sharpen the point, is there a risk that the boards will buckle as I'm driving the dowel through them? My fear is that the dowel might stick and bend the board... then it's all over....


Never had that happen and I don't think I've ever heard anyone else say they had experienced this. Since the boards are sitting on dowels, the center dowel easily goes right through.

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