I have heard that each level of a tiered cake needs dowels. But does this apply to only a two tier? My coworker has asked me to make a small two-tiered square cake for her son and daughter-in-law. Their wedding shower is coming up. She wants me to do a chocolate cake (I made a chocolate fudge giant cupcake today with fresh buttercream and she loved it) and we are going to decorate it with chocolate dipped berries and fresh flowers. It only has to feed about 35 people. I wouldn't think it needs tiers but since I am inexperienced, I wouldn't want to get into this and have the top layer slide off! What do you all think? It looks easy enough for me to tackle, but I sure don't want to get in over my head. I am an experienced baker...but I don't do wedding cakes or big, multi-tiered cakes.
Yes, you should dowel even a 2 tier, otherwise, you risk the top tier cracking/sinking into the bottom.
Basic rule is to use dowels (or a support system) for every 4" of cake height. If not, you run the risk of the upper tier smashing the lower tier.
It isn't likely that the top tier would slide off when not using supports under it... it's more likely to sink. A center dowel rod (or two) through all tiers will help to prevent the tiers from sliding apart from one another during transport. Using too much filling can cause your layers to slide.
Thank you all for that information. That doesn't sound like anything too hard to attempt. All she wants me to do is make a 12" square with an 8" round or square on top frosted with buttercream. Then I am going to make chocolate covered berries in her wedding colors and the lady wants to put them on the cake with fresh flowers that she will buy herself. I already know how to make an awesome buttercream and get it very smooth, so I think I can attempt to use dowels I hope, LOL.