How To: Tiered Cake

Decorating By augurey Updated 16 May 2011 , 2:26pm by CWR41

augurey Posted 12 May 2011 , 11:37pm
post #1 of 12

I have two things coming up that I plan on making a tiered cake. In a week or two I'll be doing a two-tiered cake (and maybe a three tiered a week or two later) and at the end of July a three-tiered cake. I'm going to attempt the two-tiered this weekend so I know what I'm doing when I'm actually making it for people.

I've watched some tutorials so I have an idea of what I need to do however I do have some questions.

First:

Due to me working, I'll need to take a few days to get everything done. Pre-baking, pre-frosting, and then will be left with the remaining decorating, etc. I don't think I'd need more than 2-3 days in advance. I read a little bit about freezing on here, but I have some more questions.

When should you freeze a baked cake? When is it okay to just refrigerate? Refrigeration would be easier for me, but I'm not really sure what's best. When freezing, do you thaw or is it okay to go ahead and frost while frozen? How does freezing affect the cake? I'm worried that freezing would cause the cake to to be mushy afterward (I'm just using box mixes right now, so I don't know if that'd make a difference).

Also, if you have to freeze after you've frosted the cake, how does this affect the frosting?


Second:

The dowel rods. The one that I worry about is the one that goes through the center of the whole thing. I know you sharpen it beforehand, but is that really enough to get it to go through the cake board? Also, wouldn't you end up with pieces of the cake board in the lower layers?


Some other not-very-important questions -- Would there ever be a situation where you can frost the different layers with different flavors? I would think it'd just be all one, but it was just something that crossed my mind.


I guess that's about it. Could anyone offer any other important points I might be missing or would be beneficial to know before I try my first one?

11 replies
wildflowercakes Posted 13 May 2011 , 12:17am
post #2 of 12

Wait till the cake is completely cooled. I wrap mine in saran wrap or something similar for added protection then freeze. I haven't done the fridge thing before. So if you do freeze; after pulling the cakes from the freezer thaw completely (I don't unwrap until after they are thawed) then ice them. If you ice them frozen that can really mess with your frosting ( sweating, color bleeding). When I had to divide my time I would bake and freeze on Sat. Thursday thaw and ice the cakes. On Friday I would decorate and on Sat. I would deliver. Never had any problems doing this nor did I have any complaints just compliments. I do use a crisco based buttercream.
Dowel rods. I separate my cakes with coconut most of the time so they don't stick together. I have noticed when I run the dowel rod through it doesn't tear the cake board it just pushes it out of the way so it doesn't end up in the cake. To push the sharpened dowel rod through the cakes I use a small hammer and put a wider board (about like a ruler) on top of the dowel to hammer it in. Aim straight or you'll end up with a hammer print in the cake. Been there and done that. And yes if a customer wants different flavors give it to them. Happy Decorating.

augurey Posted 14 May 2011 , 2:10am
post #4 of 12

Thanks so much for the information! I'm working on my first one tonight and tomorrow, and I'm really anxious to see how it turns out. I feel like I have the hang of most of it, but I'm worried about the dowel rods as I'm worried I'm going to screw something up - but then again this is why I'm working on one now instead of actually having my first one meant to be for other people.

Has anyone ever had it where the cake was too moist and fell apart when trying to put the dowel rods in? Every time I see videos/tutorials, the cake just seems so sturdy, but when I bake it seems that I have to be careful for it to not fall apart. I think my biggest concern is the center one as it sounds like force is needed (if hammers are needed, etc).

CWR41 Posted 14 May 2011 , 2:36am
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by augurey

Has anyone ever had it where the cake was too moist and fell apart when trying to put the dowel rods in?




No, but it will fall apart after the dowel rods are in if you use too many which perforates the cake everywhere.

Quote:
Originally Posted by augurey

I think my biggest concern is the center one as it sounds like force is needed (if hammers are needed, etc).




It's not so much force that you need a hammer... you could push it in, but it's safer to tap with a hammer rather than slipping and ruining your cake.

sparkle25 Posted 14 May 2011 , 3:06am
post #6 of 12

I always freeze my cakes it makes them moister and much easier to level if they are frozen. While the cakes are still warm, I wrap them in saran and then a layer of foil and then just put them in the freezer (Wrapping them when they are warm is the key to the moistness). When I'm ready to ice them; I pull them out of the freezer, level them, dam and fill the layers, and crumb coat them while they are still frozen. After that I put them in the fridge to settle overnight (to avoid bulging) or if strapped for time I put a cake board over top of them and then a heavy book on top and let it settle for a few hours. Then I add the final coat of icing.

This is what works best for me. Hope that helps icon_smile.gif

CalhounsCakery Posted 14 May 2011 , 3:46am
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by sparkle25

I always freeze my cakes it makes them moister and much easier to level if they are frozen. While the cakes are still warm, I wrap them in saran and then a layer of foil and then just put them in the freezer (Wrapping them when they are warm is the key to the moistness). When I'm ready to ice them; I pull them out of the freezer, level them, dam and fill the layers, and crumb coat them while they are still frozen. After that I put them in the fridge to settle overnight (to avoid bulging) or if strapped for time I put a cake board over top of them and then a heavy book on top and let it settle for a few hours. Then I add the final coat of icing.

This is what works best for me. Hope that helps icon_smile.gif




Are you baking scratch or box?

sparkle25 Posted 14 May 2011 , 4:21pm
post #8 of 12

I bake both, doctored mixes and from scratch.

augurey Posted 15 May 2011 , 9:04pm
post #9 of 12

Thanks for the info on the dowel rods and the freezing! Definitely helpful.

Now, I have finished my first two-tiered cake. Obviously as it was my first, it's not that great, so any faults are my lack of experience rather than anything else.


For the tiers, is there a guideline or a "suggestion" on the diameter/size of each layer?

I made it small because it was my first one and didn't want anything overbearing nor was it made for anything special. But my bottom layer was 8", the top 6".

From everything I've seen on the internet, (what looks like) the 2" difference in diameter is enough to pipe a boarder, but it seemed like I was really cutting it close, like there really isn't any room for a border.

I'm doing a two tier within the next couple of weeks (I don't have the date yet) for my boyfriend, and the bottom layer is going to require writing/words (which I planned on placing them differently around (including part of the top of the bottom layer), and with this size, there's no way I'd achieve the look I want for this next cake. Would it look okay (in general) to use a 10" on the bottom and a 6" for the top? Or would the just look awkward?


Additionally, and I realize some of it is unavoidable and the other part is lack of experience, but when stacking the cake, I took a lot of frosting off it. I know it's normal and going to happen, but from tutorials I've seen, it's usually very minimal and only needs touched up. I had messed up the frosting so badly that I had to go through again and really re-smooth (and re-frost!) a good portion. It seemed excessive. Maybe it was just my technique -- I used an offset spatula on one side, and my hand was on the other. I tried to use the spatula to support the cake while I removed my hand, but it was just almost a disaster. Should I be using something else? Should the positioning of my hand/spatula be different?

sparkle25 Posted 15 May 2011 , 9:42pm
post #10 of 12

A 10 inch and 6 inch is my favorite size combination for two tiered cakes (if you look in my pictures you'll see two examples of what this will look like size wise and might help you see how much room you have for the lettering).

augurey Posted 15 May 2011 , 10:05pm
post #11 of 12

I just looked at your pictures, and I think I like the 10" 6" combination a lot! That size seems to be more of what I envisioned/more appropriate for what I'm planning on doing. With the 8" and 6" it would have been probably impossible as it would have been so cramped, and it just wouldn't have been what I wanted. I just feel like the 8" / 6" were too close in size. Not to say it wouldn't work for a different/cake design, but I think I like that combination. (Very nice cakes by the way!)

CWR41 Posted 16 May 2011 , 2:26pm
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by augurey

For the tiers, is there a guideline or a "suggestion" on the diameter/size of each layer?




It depends on the look you're going for... 2" difference = a tall and towering angle, 3" or 4" difference = a more gradual angle, and it also depends on what the serving goal is when choosing tier sizes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by augurey

Would it look okay (in general) to use a 10" on the bottom and a 6" for the top? Or would the just look awkward?




I prefer a 4" difference... it will look fine, especially since you need the extra space for your writing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by augurey

Should the positioning of my hand/spatula be different?




I wrote this in another thread:
One hand on the spatula and one hand underneath the cake (on its own cake circle) supporting the weight.

If you're using SPS, you can lower one side of the tier onto the plate, remove your hand, slide the tier into place across the plate with your spatula, lower the cake the rest of the way, and remove your spatula.

If you aren't using SPS, it helps with positioning if you're placing your tier onto another cake circle (just as you would with a single plate separator). So rather than trying to lower it on top of a buttercream surface (while denting the lower cake, trying to get your hand and spatula out without making a mess, and possibly disturbing the dowels), you're lowering it onto a corrugated cake circle instead that's already stuck in place on the surface of the lower tier. Doubling up on circles is easier than risking damage and causing internal support issues, and you'll still be able to hammer a center dowel through all tiers without a problem.

Here's the entire thread:
http://cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopict-710889-fingers.html
HTH.

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