Do I Really Need A Giant Dowel In The Middle??

Decorating By ProudVeteransWife Updated 7 May 2014 , 5:54pm by leah_s

ProudVeteransWife Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 1:02pm
post #1 of 25

Hello, I'm very new to cake decorating (only on my sixth cake), but I seem to be doing pretty darn good! I was asked by some friends to make their daughter's first birthday cake. They wanted something over the top and crazy (frog, skulls, bows, flames). So I did a 3 tier cake, I made a 14", 10" and a 8". I only have the bottom tier put together it's about 4" high. I put 6 of the wilton bamboo dowels in. The top two tiers are only about 2" high. I saw on youtube videos, people putting 1 large rod down the middle of the cake. Is this something I will need for this cake? I do have the rod, but didn't want to use it if it was not needed. Also if anyone can tell me a better way to fix cracks in my cake besides covering them up with decoration, I would appreciate it. I ran out of fondant so I think it started having tiny cracks because it was rolled out very thin. Thank you very much icon_smile.gif

24 replies
Serena4016 Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 1:34pm
post #2 of 25

Anytime I stack anything, no matter how ridiculous it may seem...I run a dowel through the center!!I would rather be safe than sorry!!!

CarolinaGirlAsh Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 1:46pm
post #3 of 25

I also always run a dowel through the center of tiered cakes since I don't want the tiers to shift during transport. As for the cracks, depending on how big they are, you may be able to fill them in with a little BC or RI that matches the color of your fondant.

ProudVeteransWife Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 1:46pm
post #4 of 25

Thanks so much! icon_smile.gif

Marianna46 Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 1:48pm
post #5 of 25

If it's only two or three tiers and a rather small cake (largest tier 12" or smaller) and I DON'T HAVE TO TRANSPORT IT, I don't use the center dowel. If I'm assembling at the venue, I don't use one, either, but my cakes so far haven't been too big. I'm hoping that will change soon, because I want to start doing wedding cakes. For a large cake, I would always use a center dowel - you wouldn't want a disaster on your hands because you didn't use one!

Sorry about the multiple posts below - I couldn't get this to post correctly and all of a sudden all my efforts appeared at once! Can anybody tell me how to delete messages, or is that impossible?

Marianna46 Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 1:48pm
post #6 of 25

If it's only two or three tiers and a rather small cake (largest tier 12" or smaller) and I DON'T HAVE TO TRANSPORT IT, I don't use the center dowel. If I'm assembling at the venue, I don't use one, either, but my cakes so far haven't been too big. I'm hoping that will change soon, because I want to start doing wedding cakes. For a large cake, I would always use a center dowel - you wouldn't want a disaster on your hands because you didn't use one!

Marianna46 Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 1:55pm
post #7 of 25

If it's only two or three tiers and a rather small cake (largest tier 12" or smaller) and I DON'T HAVE TO TRANSPORT IT, I don't use the center dowel. If I'm assembling at the venue, I don't use one, either, but my cakes so far haven't been too big. I'm hoping that will change soon, because I want to start doing wedding cakes. For a large cake, I would always use a center dowel - you wouldn't want a disaster on your hands because you didn't use one!

robinmarie Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 2:08pm
post #8 of 25

just curious, i never have used a center dowel before, but if i did, how do you pull that darn thing out when you want to serve the cake. what if it is a wedding cake, do the cake cutters realize there is a center dowel they need to remove. do you let them know this when you deliver it?

gatorcake Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 2:26pm
post #9 of 25

I don't see the value of a center dowel. In tiers sure, they are designed to carry the load of the tiers. However a center dowel does little to stop lateral movement. If there is enough force to displace a tier laterally, the cake is simply going to tear through the center dowel. Have never used one. All it seems to do is displace more cake and create a false sense of security.

Coral3 Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 2:47pm
post #10 of 25

I never bother. My cakes are always ganached and finished in fondant, with tiers 'well-glued' together, which is pretty solid to start with, and not nearly as slippy-slidey as buttercream. Perhaps it might be necessary on buttercream cakes.

mayo2222 Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 3:04pm
post #11 of 25

The center dowel probably helps somewhat in taller cakes as far as the higher tiers are concerned since they have the least weight and would be more prone to shifting. But overall, unless you center dowel is attached to your bottom cake board or is something like the cake safe, then its probably more of a hassle than it is any type of security.

bakingpw Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 5:49pm
post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProudVeteransWife

I was asked by some friends to make their daughter's first birthday cake. They wanted something over the top and crazy (frog, skulls, bows, flames).




WHAT? For a 1 yr. old? Geesh!!!

As for your question: I always use a center dowel. It protects the cake from moving vertically. The center dowel is easy to remove as it shows when the cake is cut. It is just pulled straight up.

CarolinaGirlAsh Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 6:47pm
post #13 of 25

I can speak from experience that a center dowel does provide some extra security in regards to shifting. When I started making cakes, I did not use a center dowel, and had several tiered cakes that shifted during transport (even smaller tiered cakes). However, now I use the center dowel (pointed on one end) and I do pound it slightly into the cake drum to secure it and I have not had a problem with shifting tiers since. Most of the cakes I have made have not used ganache but rather buttercream or buttercream covered with fondant.

As for what to do with the dowel when you cut the cake, I always make sure to let someone know that there is a dowel securing the tiers, running down the center. I think most bakers do this and therefore most places that cut cakes for parties, caterers, etc... are usually aware of this. When I have cut cakes at weddings, parties, etc...I usually lift the tiers off one at a time and deconstruct the cake for cutting. You can pull the dowel out, but its usually more difficult than simply lifting the tier itself off of the dowel. I hope this makes sense.

leah_s Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 7:15pm
post #14 of 25

I'm with gator. The center dowel is totally false security. If the cake is going sideways, it's going. Use SPS and you 1) don't need a center dowel and 2) have an extremely secure support system to start with.

BlakesCakes Posted 23 Sep 2011 , 8:15pm
post #15 of 25

A long support dowel isn't just going thru cake, it's also going thru the cake boards. That's where the "securing" part comes in because it will inhibit lateral movement going thru those boards.

If I really want security, I put in 2 long, thinner dowels because things can't "twist" around 2 supports like they can around 1. I drive them into the bottom cake drum.

I also dampen vibration during transport by sitting the boxed cake on 2 layers of memory foam.

I've been very happy with the results.

Rae

JanetBme Posted 29 Sep 2011 , 2:45am
post #16 of 25

too late for your cake...but no, never used a center dowel in tiered cakes... and knock on wood- never had a problem in 10 years.

mrslivvix Posted 29 Sep 2011 , 3:16am
post #17 of 25

I use the small dowel rods to keep the cake from collapsing but I've never used one big one all thru the cakes. How do you get them thru the cake boards without tearing up the cakes and bottom layers? I guess I'm confused. Maybe I need to look at a video to get the idea...

icer101 Posted 29 Sep 2011 , 3:36am
post #18 of 25

If i travel with the stacked cakes, i use the center dowel(sharpen one end, drive thru to bottom cake board) the sharp point goes thru all cake boards. I don,t use them if i set up at the venue. I also use the sps system at times. Geraldine Randlesome, after doweling each tier(fondant covered) uses r/i to adhere each tier. she never uses dowels thru the center. she doesn,t have to. she doesn,t understand why we don,t do this way(most of us don,t) but that is the best way, of course if you are not using the sps system. hth

leah_s Posted 29 Sep 2011 , 3:46am
post #19 of 25

I've never used a center dowel in 50 years of baking.

I do use SPS, though.

shaleha Posted 7 May 2014 , 7:16am
post #20 of 25

Quote:

Originally Posted by leah_s 

I've never used a center dowel in 50 years of baking.

I do use SPS, though.


Oh I m glad to hear that . I ll be making 3 tier cakes of 10 , 8 , 6 " and thinking if I should run a centre rod through the cake &  if it will cross all the 3 tiers !

What if my cakes get unstable ...

 

Thank you for giving me that confidence,

leah_s Posted 7 May 2014 , 10:37am
post #21 of 25

AI'm confident that my tiers wont shift because I use SPS. If you're using some other support system you need to make your own assessment and decisions.

howsweet Posted 7 May 2014 , 2:48pm
post #22 of 25

Quote:

Originally Posted by robinmarie 

just curious, i never have used a center dowel before, but if i did, how do you pull that darn thing out when you want to serve the cake. what if it is a wedding cake, do the cake cutters realize there is a center dowel they need to remove. do you let them know this when you deliver it?

You just grab it and pull it up.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bakingpw 




WHAT? For a 1 yr. old? Geesh!!!

As for your question: I always use a center dowel. It protects the cake from moving vertically. The center dowel is easy to remove as it shows when the cake is cut. It is just pulled straight up.

A good part of my business is first birthdays. There are lots of people that rent fancy venues for their young children. And in certain cultures the first birthday is a huge deal. They may have a 6 hour event and invite 100 people.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gatorcake 

I don't see the value of a center dowel. In tiers sure, they are designed to carry the load of the tiers. However a center dowel does little to stop lateral movement. If there is enough force to displace a tier laterally, the cake is simply going to tear through the center dowel. Have never used one. All it seems to do is displace more cake and create a false sense of security.

I'm sorry, but this isn't even close to true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s 

I'm with gator. The center dowel is totally false security. If the cake is going sideways, it's going. Use SPS and you 1) don't need a center dowel and 2) have an extremely secure support system to start with.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by leah_s 

I've never used a center dowel in 50 years of baking.

I do use SPS, though.

 

Are you saying you've never, ever used a center dowel? If that's the case, maybe you should take more care in making a statement like this.  There is more than one way to stack a cake. And there are several ways to do a center dowel.

cupadeecakes Posted 7 May 2014 , 3:30pm
post #23 of 25

I now use a center dowel rod on all my tiered cakes.  I wouldn't say it gives me a false sense of security, just as I wouldn't say a set of plastic plates or any other system gives anyone else a false sense of security.  I would say that in 8 years of business it has never failed me.  I will very confidently place a 6 tier wedding cake in the back of my car and go up any mountain with my center dowel rod.  A properly supported cake is a properly supported cake no matter what method you use.

morganchampagne Posted 7 May 2014 , 5:51pm
post #24 of 25

A^^ yes. I don't use a center dowel, only poly dowels. I've never had an accident or shifting of the cake. If the cake is properly supported it doesn't matter.

There are some theories out there about center dowels...to me they are not necessary. But if they make you comfortable you should do it. Just understand a center dowel is not going to save a cake that's poorly built

leah_s Posted 7 May 2014 , 5:54pm
post #25 of 25

ATruly, I do have over 50 years of caking experience and have never, ever used a center dowel.

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