I'm Having Trouble With Collapsing Layers!

Decorating By laura4795 Updated 11 Apr 2011 , 8:04pm by CakeLady1981

laura4795 Posted 30 Mar 2011 , 7:23pm
post #1 of 25

What is the best way to support a cake? I have tried using thick, heavy straws, but if there is any weight on the cake they start to slowly collapse.

The only support system I use is putting the heavy straws into the bottom layer, then putting the top cake on a cardboard piece and setting it onto the straws.

Is my problem the straws? I thought they would work because they are super heavy duty. What else can I use? Do people use wooden dowels? Does the wood splinter into the cake?

You can view the cakes I've done under "my pictures". I usually get the picture before the cake starts it's slow collapse, but maybe someone can identify the problem by seeing them.

Thanks!

24 replies
debbief Posted 30 Mar 2011 , 10:42pm
post #2 of 25

How "heavy duty" are the straws? I use bubble tea straws all the time for stacking and never have a problem. Maybe you aren't positioning them correctly?

If I'm stacking a 6" on top of a tier, I usually put 3 straws in the tier below in the shape of a triangle as close to the edges of the cakeboard above as possible.

If I'm stacking anything bigger I usually do 4 straws in a square shape close to the edge of the cakeboard above and one in the middle.

Are you cutting all the straws exactly the same height? Put the first straw all the way down into the cake and cut it even with the top of the cake. Then use that straw as a guide to cut the rest of your straws.

Hopefully one of these suggestions will help.

cheatize Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 12:25am
post #3 of 25

Another tip: make sure your straws are going in straight. Every once in awhile I have one that goes slightly sideways and I have to take it out and move it somewhere else.

laura4795 Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 12:40pm
post #4 of 25

I didn't know that's what they were called, but I'm pretty sure I have bubble tea straws.

I probably am not getting them the proper height. I know I've never worried about getting them all exactly even. I also use more straws than what you just stated. Probably double that amount. Could that actually weaken the cake in some way?

I'm starting to lose my confidence with my results!

zoraya Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 1:14pm
post #5 of 25

Wooden dowels work great and won't splinter in the cake. Just cut them and smooth off the cut edge.
Whether you use those or straws - you need to let them stick out just slightly above the cake. The idea is to have the top tier sit on those, not into your bottom cake or it will sink it and cause it to start cracking/collapsing. Put the supports in, a big blob of icing and sit your top tier on. Once you put your border you won't see the tiny gap. HTH

sillywabbitz Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 1:46pm
post #6 of 25

SPS (single plate and pillar system). No dowels, no cutting straws, no center dowel. Each cake literally rests on it's only little table top that is pushed into the previous tier.

Leah_s has a sticky at the top of the cake decorating forum on how it works. It's fabulous and works every time. It cost more than straws but the confidence that the cake is straight and won't fall is fantasticicon_smile.gif It's really not that expensive if you buy lots of plates and legs all at the same time to cut down on shipping

zoraya Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 2:41pm
post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by sillywabbitz

SPS (single plate and pillar system). No dowels, no cutting straws, no center dowel. Each cake literally rests on it's only little table top that is pushed into the previous tier.

Leah_s has a sticky at the top of the cake decorating forum on how it works. It's fabulous and works every time. It cost more than straws but the confidence that the cake is straight and won't fall is fantasticicon_smile.gif It's really not that expensive if you buy lots of plates and legs all at the same time to cut down on shipping




thumbs_up.gif Love SPS!

cakedout Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 2:46pm
post #8 of 25

Doubling the number of straws certainly won't weaken the cake. I'd have to say that it is more likely that your straws were cut too short (below icing level) and/or cut unevenly.

I personally don't trust the straws, but lots of folks use them with no issues. Give them another go, or try some wood dowels next time. Your cakes look good- so just keep practicing! thumbs_up.gif

debbief Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 2:56pm
post #9 of 25

zoraya is right, you should make sure they are sticking just above the surface of the cake so the tier above is not putting any pressure on the cake below. When I cut my first straw while still in the cake, I cut it as close to the surface as I can, but it is not flush with the top of the cake...just barely above it. That's all it takes. But it's very important to make sure they are all exactly the same height.

putting more straws in won't weaken the supports but it's definatley not necessary. Wooden dowels aren't as wide and are harder to get pefectly straight. If they get put in at the slightest bit of an angle, your support will be weak. Straws also fill with cake as they are being inserted so you won't displace any of the cake.

I have never made larger than a 3-tier cake and so far bubble straws work perfectly for me. But if I ever make anything larger I will definately look into SPS. Actually I will be making my very first wedding cake for my niece in Oct. and I already planned to use SPS or something similar.

CAC74 Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 3:02pm
post #10 of 25

What is the best way to cut wooden dowels? That is what I use but I never get a perfectly flat cut, and it's very frustrating!

zoraya Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 4:32pm
post #11 of 25

Get a new pair of gardening pruners. Pinch it around the dowel and keep twisting back and forth till it cuts straight thru. Works every time!

AnotherCaker Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 5:49pm
post #12 of 25

Get a sewing ruler, like this: http://missourifamilies.org/learningopps/learnmaterial/tools/toolsjb/tools400/gaugesqr3400.jpg


You stick this in the cake to measure how long to cut your straws, then cut all straws according to that one measurement. Make sure they are all cut properly then put them in cake. I wouldn't recommend putting a straw in the cake and basing your measurements off that one.

indydebi Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 7:36pm
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crystle

What is the best way to cut wooden dowels? That is what I use but I never get a perfectly flat cut, and it's very frustrating!


I tried the CC suggestion of using doggy nail clippers. Wow, these are GREAT!!! I kept some special sandpaper around just in case I had to smooth one down or remove something like 1/32 of an inch, but those were extreeme cases. LUV my doggy clippers! Thanks, CC'ers for a great suggestion! (btw, these are only $5-$10 at Dollar STores or walmart. I dont' recommend the dollar store ones. icon_rolleyes.gif )

Flur Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 7:57pm
post #14 of 25

Where do you buy the bubble straws? Has anyone transported a cake already stacked using the bubble straws? I have to make a wedding cake and transport it assembled, so I'm curious if any of you have any suggestions.

mommynana Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 11:34pm
post #15 of 25

Would anyone have a pic. of the bubble tea straws ?? And where do you buy them,

LaWmn223 Posted 31 Mar 2011 , 11:48pm
post #16 of 25

I get mine at bed bath and beyond...but you have to ask them where they are and they are called milkshake straws....also ebay sells them..they are listed as bubble or boba tea straws...they are usually 8" long and 1/2" diameter..You still need a center support if you are going to transport, I usually use a wooden dowel for that...Hope this helps..

mommynana Posted 1 Apr 2011 , 12:07am
post #17 of 25

Oh, So they are just those big milkshake straws, Now i feel stupid. But here is another stupit question.Is Wiltons plastic dowels better to use then the straws??

UpAt2am Posted 1 Apr 2011 , 1:58am
post #19 of 25

if you don't want to order online/pay shipping/get them right away, try to find a local asian supply store. i buy mine there and i want to say you get 100 straws per bag, and the bag is $1.49!!! i buy 10 bags at a time and got through them! and yes, i've done a 5 tier cake with them no problem...delivered, etc.

laura4795 Posted 1 Apr 2011 , 11:23am
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommynana

Would anyone have a pic. of the bubble tea straws ?? And where do you buy them,




I just bought a batch on ebay. Just enter "bubble tea straws" into the search engine. They are very inexpensive!

laura4795 Posted 1 Apr 2011 , 11:26am
post #21 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by cakedout

Doubling the number of straws certainly won't weaken the cake. I'd have to say that it is more likely that your straws were cut too short (below icing level) and/or cut unevenly.




My cakes are often not perfectly level. I level them before I ice them, but the icing often changes things. Is this part of my problem too?

Dani1081 Posted 1 Apr 2011 , 11:48am
post #22 of 25

laura, the icing doesn't have to be perfectly level as long as the straws or dowels are all the same height. Like a previous post stated, if you have a tiny gap because your icing is a bit thicker in some places than others, you're going to cover that up with a border anyway. Something I found with my first three tiered cake and someone posted it earlier - MAKE SURE that your supports are as close to the edges of the tier above it as possible. I put mine too close to the center and the two tiers on top sunk sideways. If I had put the dowels further out to the edge that would not have happened.

bcarb Posted 2 Apr 2011 , 7:30pm
post #23 of 25

Most Asian markets will carry them, as they are used for tapioca pearl drinks.

laura4795 Posted 11 Apr 2011 , 7:44pm
post #24 of 25

One more question about my collapsing layers: I often will slice each layer of a cake in half so that I have 4 small layers instead of 2 layers. Do you think this compromises the integrity of the structure?

CakeLady1981 Posted 11 Apr 2011 , 8:04pm
post #25 of 25

I do not know if this is proper or not but I ALWAYS have a cake board under all of my tiers. If you just sit a cake on dowels or straws or what ever with out a board under it it will sink!!

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%