usmdesigner Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 3:54pm
post #1 of

I was watching a cake show the other night and saw someone use Straws in place of dowels.

Has anyone done this before? Is it like a cheaper alternative or something?

33 replies
pattiscake Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 4:03pm
post #2 of

I have used them many times until one time my cake fell. I no longer use them.

tiptop57 Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 4:05pm
post #3 of

Yes, I use them all the time. They are called Bubble Tea Straws and are bigger and stronger then regular straws. You can get them from Amazon.

Iggy Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 4:05pm
post #4 of

They are called Bubble Straws. Bigger than regular ones. I ca't find them here only online and the shipping is more expensive than the straws unless you want 1,000 of them. Maybe you can find someone to split them with. Sugarshack uses them all the time.

usmdesigner Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 4:15pm
post #5 of

do any of you ever get materials back or just leave it and charge the people for the cost

karabeal Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 4:39pm
post #6 of

I get my bubble tea straws from my local Asian food market. They are super cheap there, like 100 for $1.29. Because bubble tea is becoming more popular, you might be able to find them locally now (or in the near future) as the trend spreads. I've never heard of anyone asking for their straws back. They are a use and toss sort of thing, disposable, like cakeboards.

zirconiag Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 4:44pm
post #7 of

Will it be strong enough? I asked my Wilton instructor last week...during the Tall Cakes Class and she said it won't work and only use wooden dowels. I hate cutting the dowels!!!

Mb20fan Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 4:56pm
post #8 of

I use the bubble tea straws, got them on eBay - there's usually a buy 2 and get 1 free kind of thing. These straw are big! Since they are custom cut for each tier, no need to get them back (as are the wooden dowels). I only use a wooden dowel when I dowel the center, but the individual tiers have the straws. I guess like with everything else, it's a personal preference based on your own experience. If I ever go bigger than a 3-tier, I would probably go with the wooden dowels - just for my own personal peace of mind - since there is more weight. JMO. icon_biggrin.gif

Mb20fan Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 4:58pm
post #9 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by zirconiag

Will it be strong enough? I asked my Wilton instructor last week...during the Tall Cakes Class and she said it won't work and only use wooden dowels. I hate cutting the dowels!!!




Maybe because Wilton doesn't make bubble tea straws...Lol.
Sorry...bad joke. icon_biggrin.gif

karabeal Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 5:02pm

These are pretty tough straws. They aren't McDonalds straws. They have a larger diameter which gives them greater stability. PLUS, I can cut them with regular scissors. They've never failed me in my layer cakes. They're not super long, so you still have to use a wooden dowel if you want a single center support to pound through all of your layers. But if you're happy with just adding several points of support within each layer, then I highly recommend them. They are SO much easier, quicker and more pleasant (no splinters!) to use than dowels.

artscallion Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 5:04pm

I disagree with your Wilton instructor. Bubble tea straws are actually stronger than wooden dowels.

Dowels displace cake, which pushes out against the rest of the cake. Bubble straws don't displace cake. Dowels can collapse to the side during transport. Bubble straws have a much wider footprint which makes them much less likely to lean or tip to the side. Architecturally speaking, if you applied weight straight down on the top of a dowel inserted in a cake and on the top of a bubble straw inserted in a cake, the straw would support much more weight before buckling or breaking than the dowel would.

I use only bubble straws and have never had a problem. When I used to use dowels, I had a few leaners.

jerseygirlNga Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 5:13pm

I used bubble tea straws once and had a sinking problem with my bottom tier. It looked like the straws could not handle the weight. I placed every two inches around perimeter, staggered and put another around inner perimeter. Used one hollow dowel in the center. The problem was the outer perimeter. I can't imagine placing any closer together so I am back to wooden or Wilton dowels.

lyndya Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 5:17pm

I use the straws now. Work fine on my 4 and 5 tier cakes. Never had any problems.

EllieA Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 5:19pm

People talk well about bubble tea straws because nothing has happened not them ... YET. The thing is ... straws are made of very flimsy plastic, they slid and slide and are simply not sturdy enough to hold 50 pounds of cake. The strongest materials are wood and thick plastic dowels - it's obvious. The way I see it is you will use them (because they are cheaper and all the reasons stated above), until a cake falls on you! Then you will talk a different tune. Me? I wouldn't dare! It's wood and SPS all the way, baby! Better safe than sorry!

usmdesigner Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 5:40pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by EllieA

People talk well about bubble tea straws because nothing has happened not them ... YET. The thing is ... straws are made of very flimsy plastic, they slid and slide and are simply not sturdy enough to hold 50 pounds of cake. The strongest materials are wood and thick plastic dowels - it's obvious. The way I see it is you will use them (because they are cheaper and all the reasons stated above), until a cake falls on you! Then you will talk a different tune. Me? I wouldn't dare! It's wood and SPS all the way, baby! Better safe than sorry!




Seems reasonable. I'm just learning stuff and was wondering. No customers or anything like that for me. I would probably side with you EllieA if I ever did make a large cake and had a lot of pressure on me to deliver the goods. LOL

It really is hard to imagine the straw could physically hold more weight than a solid piece of wood. I would love to the see the test that was actually run though.

mahal50881 Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 6:14pm

I've used the straws for two tiered cakes or small 3 tiered cakes, but I'm too scared to use them on a big wedding cake

cdgleason Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 6:14pm

I use bubble straws in small, 2 tier cakes, anything bigger than that, I use heavy plastic or wooden dowels o,r cake jacks... except if the top tier is really small, I'll use bubble straws to support a 6 inch cake.
I don't want to take a chance with the support system when the cost difference is so insignificant versus the risk of having a cake sag or worse!!

usmdesigner Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 7:23pm

These straws this bakery was using looked exactly like something out of mcdonalds though. even had the pin stripe down it.

The general opinion here is that bubble straws are larger and thicker.

This makes me wonder if regular straws would work for something like a 2 tier cake.

jenny311 Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 7:41pm

I saw the show that you are referring to and have used straws because of it. I have yet to do a cake over 2 tiers so I'm not sure how they work with more tiers. I use straws that were given to my Mom as a gag gift that her friend got from Jack in the Box. My Mom LOVES a good thick straw so her friend purchased a whole box from the manager at Jack. Well she gave me a bunch of them, and they work AMAZING on my 2 tiered cakes. I will be making my first 3 tiered AND topsy turvy design in a couple of weeks, so I hope they work well for that too.

Foxicakes Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 8:03pm

I too saw the "straw show" I think is was Fabulous Cakes in Philadelphia?? And the cake that they used them in was about 4 tiers high and the straws seemd to work great. I have used the bubble straws also on my tierd cakes in the past and found that I really liked them too, however, when the girl on the show used hers, she shoved it down into the cake as far as it would go and then slid it back up just enough to be able to genly snip it off and then used the scissors to push it right back down. Seemed really easy. Especially since I have tried pre cutting my bubble straws and rarely get them perfect, then I have tried her technique and, maybe because the bubble ones are so thick, they dont slide back up through the cake as easily.
Anyway, they used them, I think I might try them too. And, besides that, Ill bet you can get them pretty cheap at Costco, etc. (Or just get in the habit of grabbing a few every time you go for burgers...okay, that's just bad. I'm sorry. No I do not support "stealing" straws from Micky D's!!)

Oh, I forgot to add, I DO believe that they ran atleast one if not two long wooden dowels through the entirety of the cake for additional stabiliy.

terrylee Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 8:13pm

I use the bubble straws just to stablize a layer cake for traveling....I do not use them for stacking....use a sps system.....

cr8zchpr Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 8:20pm

Well every single cake in my gallery is done with straws, I was using them like 6 years ago before bubble straws became popular. I use regular straws that have been available for ever. The reason I use straws is because they are hollow and this provides a wider displacement area. I use them as I would wooden dowels spaced out every 2 inches or so in a circular pattern. One of my heaviest cakes weighed 112 lbs it would be the Lotteria cake in my gallery and it is all supported with straws. I do however add four bamboo skewers to each tier once stacked. After I have stacked the first to tiers I hammer four skewers through the cakes all the way down to the board, then add skewers ass I add tiers, the skewers keep the tiers from sliding but the straws are supporting all the weight. I have been doing this for years and luckily I have not ever had a cake lean or fall, (I'm knocking on wood) but I will say this it was a bit nerve racking the first time I used them after my husband suggested it, but now I'm glad I did, not only is it more cost effective but much easier than cutting dowels, hhhhmmm maybe that is why my husband suggested it, he would be the dowel cutter all the time...lol

usmdesigner Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 9:22pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxicakes


(Or just get in the habit of grabbing a few every time you go for burgers...okay, that's just bad. I'm sorry. No I do not support "stealing" straws from Micky D's!!)




HAHA. I wasn't EVEN going to say that, but I sure was thinking about it! At least you helped me mentally to know I'm not the only one. LOL

Disclaimer: Usmdesigner also does not support "stealing" straws from Micky D's. Thank you. That is all.

mandysue Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 9:57pm

I used regular straws for years without any trouble, but never did more than 3 tiers. On my 2nd wedding cake ever, the straw either collapsed or tilted and I had to lift the tiers and slide in a wooden dowel to support it. After that, I went back to dowels. I just ordered some bubble tea straws and am hoping I can rely on them. I got the idea from SugarShack's video. It was kind of a pain to order them online, but I don't trust regular straws anymore and I hate having to cut wooden dowels.

I just want to make sure everyone understands that not all straws are created equally. Bubble tea straws are 1/2 inch wide, thus making them stronger than McD's straws or any others that you would buy in most stores.

jerseygirlNga Posted 4 Nov 2010 , 10:16pm

I replied to this thread earlier and have watched responses and just googled Tea Straws. I stand corrected...the straws that I used where from a cake supply store, they were a bright green in color and I was told they were tea straws. They are NOT what is pictured on Amazon. The diameter of the straws I used were about the size of the drinking straws (the really large belly buster drinks 32,44,52 oz) But much thicker. I may try the bubble tea straws but I have to admit...I do have a fear. I may just use it on a practice cake.

BlakesCakes Posted 5 Nov 2010 , 3:33am

The physics of the hollow cylinder--a straw--is such that it is stronger than a wooden stick--a dowel--when it comes to downward pressure--a cake tier.

Those bubble tea straws will hold about 20 lbs. per SQUARE INCH. Because there's a cake plug in the bottom of the straw, as long as it's cut straight on both ends, it's not going to shift and it in no way will collapse (try to press down on one of those and crush it.................)

A wooden dowel is prone to slipping inside a moist cake with filling. If it isn't cut perfectly straight on the bottom, it can easily go \\ with pressure from above. Depending on the wood a dowel is made of , you can press on it, it will "C" and then break.....................

Better yet, because the bubble tea straws are larger in diameter than wooden dowels--and they don't displace cake-- you only need to use half as many. Fewer holes in the cake is best.

Like any dowel, the straws have to be cut properly--level, all the same height, and at a height so that the tier above is NOT resting on the cake below but is only resting on the straws themselves.

Rae

artscallion Posted 5 Nov 2010 , 6:27pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by EllieA

People talk well about bubble tea straws because nothing has happened not them ... YET. The thing is ... straws are made of very flimsy plastic, they slid and slide and are simply not sturdy enough to hold 50 pounds of cake. The strongest materials are wood and thick plastic dowels - it's obvious. The way I see it is you will use them (because they are cheaper and all the reasons stated above), until a cake falls on you! Then you will talk a different tune. Me? I wouldn't dare! It's wood and SPS all the way, baby! Better safe than sorry!




I disagree with you on this. I don't use them because they are cheaper. I use them because they are stronger. Take a physics class and you'll understand why. Blakes explains it pretty well. It has little to do with the material they're made of. It has everything to do with their structure and how weight and pressure are distributed on a thin solid pole versus a wide hollow pole.

As has been stated, regular straws are not the same as bubble tea straws. They are much thinner and won't support nearly as much weight as a bubble tea straw.

Karen421 Posted 5 Nov 2010 , 6:57pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by artscallion


I disagree with you on this. I don't use them because they are cheaper. I use them because they are stronger. Take a physics class and you'll understand why. Blakes explains it pretty well. It has little to do with the material they're made of. It has everything to do with their structure and how weight and pressure are distributed on a thin solid pole versus a wide hollow pole.

As has been stated, regular straws are not the same as bubble tea straws. They are much thinner and won't support nearly as much weight as a bubble tea straw.





That is so true! Bubble tea straws are very strong, for the exact reason Rae states! In-fact the only time I have had a serious collapse, is when I used wooden dowels. The dowels displaced the cake, making it crumble. I do agree SPS is a good system, and I use that when doing tiers. But for everything else, it will always be bubble tea straws!

debbief Posted 5 Nov 2010 , 8:29pm

The first time I stacked a cake I bought both the wooden dowels and those thick plastic hollow dowels because, while at the store, I couldn't make up my mind which to use. When it was time to stack the cake, I went with the plastic hollow dowels for exactly the reason everyone is stating. It just made sense to me that these were more stable because they were wider and wouldn't displace the cake.

Ever since I heard about bubble tea straws, that's all I use.

cr8zchpr, if you can make all those amazing cakes and support them with straws, who could argue your point???

Diesel Posted 5 Nov 2010 , 8:46pm

I used wood dowels in the beginning, then switched to McDonald's straws, then to McAlister's Deli ones and finally I just buy the ones from a cake supply store near me. They come in a wider diameter and in pretty blue, pink, yellow and green. I haven't had a problem with straws to date and find them very easy to work with. I did 2 wedding cakes this year (3 and 4 tiers respectively) and transported each over 35 minutes and had no problems (and didn't have a center dowel, living life on the edge!!).

I think I have even seen Duff use the big colorful straws on his show.

Again, it all comes down to personal preference!

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