pag41989 Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 12:57pm
post #1 of

A few months ago my best friend's mother asked me if I could make her daughter's wedding cake and of course at the time I was eager (and REALLY needed the $$) so I said yes. The cake itself is easy. Its a 4 tiered cake with different fillings and covered in vanilla buttercream with swiss dots on each tier. However, this is my first "real" 4 tiered cake. I have done 5 tiered dummy cakes for competitions but have never stacked a large 4 tiered cake. I have done a few 3 tiers but I guess that extra 4th tier is making me nervous.

Of course to add to my anxiety last weekend I did a very simple two tiered wedding cake with yellow cake and buttercream and I get a text from the brides friend saying that the bottom tier had split and collapsed. icon_eek.gif When I decided to google and see what went wrong which looks like the cake I baked wasn't sturdy enough ( I used a basic yellow cake recipe) The cake was very soft and was starting to crack before I even stacked the tiers. So I have learned my lesson on not using a yellow cake recipe for wedding cakes. I tested out a pound cake recipe this weekend that came out much sturdier and was tasty so I plan on using that.

Anyways I guess my question is does anyone have any suggestions for this cake? I am so scared I am going to add too many dowels and create the swiss cheese effect or I am going to add not enough dowels and cause the cake to be crooked or collapse again! I guess I also need someone to calm me down because I normally do not ramble this much. I apologize for such a lengthy post but I have already had 2 nightmares this week about this cake! haha

20 replies
gb89 Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 1:10pm
post #2 of

Use the WASC (white almond sour cream). Just type it in under recipes above. You barely taste the sour cream, it's very sturdy, and if you don't like almonds, just substitute another flavor. HTH

Cakechick123 Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 1:30pm
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you dont mention what support system you have used in the two tier cake. if your support structure is sound, it should not matter how dense your cake is.

MsGF Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 1:39pm
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pag41989 I peeked at your cakes and they are great. You can totally pull this off. Make sure your dowels are evenly spaced and between layers they should come out to 1/2 inch the size of the layer going on top. Just be certain the weight of each tier is evenly placed onto the dowels below. Hope that makes sense. And as you have already learned don't use a cake that is too crumbly.

Remember to breathe, plan well and execute a great cake. This one will be great because you learned a lot from the last one. You can most certainly do this. icon_smile.gif

Best of Luck and Good Wishes
MsGF

Annabakescakes Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 2:25pm
post #5 of

I really don't get the "too moist" or "too crumbly", or "too whatever" to stack. Your cake is not stacked, your support is! The supports carry the weight, that is why they are called supports! Your cake sits on the support, not more cake. Maybe your dowels or straws or whatever you use are too short? Maybe they shifted? SPS is a real lifesaver. I don't use it every time, but I do use it if my cake has to go very far, or if it is very tall. I have taken 4 tiers, stacked, an hour away, on bumpy, crumbling roads, and didn't have a problem, with that SPS in there.

SweetDreams_DK Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 2:28pm
post #6 of

Don't worry, it's not difficult at all. (And the others are correct, the density of the cake doesn't matter, as long as you support the tiers correctly.)

I just use drinking straws. The bubble tea ones are best, but any will do. Each tier should have 5 of them, in a square pattern, with one just off center of the middle. You will sink them just inside the space that the next tier will sit on. Cut them to be level with the top of your buttercream, so that the tier is sitting on the straws, not sinking into the cake.

After you've stacked all 4 tiers, you'll put a wooden dowel through all 4 tiers. (Note: I use cardboard cake circles, so a dowel with a sharpened end will easily go through. Otherwise, if you're using the plastic plates, you'll have to drill a hole in each.) Just take a 1/4" dowel and cut it about 1/2" shorter than the height of the stacked cake. Sharpen the end of it using a paring knife, pencil sharpener, whatever, and gently hammer it down through the cakes. Viola! You can now move that cake around anywhere without fear of it shifting at all.

(BTW, I'm just a hobbiest at this. I don't do it for a living, but I've taken a ton of classes, and made more than a few wedding cakes for friends and friends of friends. Never had a disaster yet...knock wood!)

Good luck, you can do it!

rsquared02 Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 2:31pm
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Get the SPS! It seriously takes the scariness out of stacking/transporting cakes. I love it.

crushed Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 5:11pm
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If you're using bubble tea straws to stack, make sure all the straws are even with each other, not necessarily with the buttercream. If you make them all level with the buttercream, the cake could shift if the buttercream itself isn't level. Just take the best measurement with the first straw in the cake, pull it out and cut the other straws the same height as the first one.

leah_s Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 6:14pm
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Yes, use SPS. You will not regret it! Easy, sturdy, cheap.

BettyRWalters Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 6:24pm

I use the stainless steel cylinders.I hate the wood post and the plastic one I can never get them cut the same size, and on large cakes you end up with a bunch of holes in the cake. The cylinders are wonderful. They look like a empty can with both ends open. (most cans are to tall, but they are food safe) You just push them down in the center of the cake and sit the next one on top. If you have a good cake store near you it will be worth the trip. I have had mine for about 5 years LOVE them.

shanter Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 6:53pm

Is it too obvious for me to point this out? With real cake, as opposed to dummies, if you do use the dowels (though I recommend the SPS), each tier is on a cake board when you place it on the dowels that are in the tier below.

Annabakescakes Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 7:12pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by BettyRWalters

I use the stainless steel cylinders.I hate the wood post and the plastic one I can never get them cut the same size, and on large cakes you end up with a bunch of holes in the cake. The cylinders are wonderful. They look like a empty can with both ends open. (most cans are to tall, but they are food safe) You just push them down in the center of the cake and sit the next one on top. If you have a good cake store near you it will be worth the trip. I have had mine for about 5 years LOVE them.




These scare the crap outta me since the place I used to work used them. One time, the outer edge of the cake split in two places, and the decorations pulled it down! Of course, it damaged the bottom two tiers as it rolled down them onto the linens. The remaining wedding cake was a perfect top tier, with a steel ring covered in chocolate crumbs and filing for the second tier, and the third and fourth tiers were partially stripped of icing and decoration, red velvet cake and yellow cake exposed, and there was an explosion of crumbs and pristine white icing and fondant cherubs and Baroque swirls on the table cloth. It was truly horrible. Nothing to do but stare with your mouth hanging open in horror, eyes bulging... The MOG running off....When the bride came running in her dress, face all red, with the MOB and MOG behind her, i split! I allowed the owner, who was with me during the delivery deal with it, as she was the one who stuck that thing in the cake... It was never spoken of, since the owner was very proud (ROYAL WITCH, with a B), but we came back, in silence (she would yell at people for no reason when they opened their mouths after something bad happened), and she left again with the checkbook, and a dusty, faded dummy cake. I presume the cake moved to the back and served, while the dummy was put on display....

BettyRWalters Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 8:30pm

The cylinders come in all different sizes and they used one that was to big. What I do is use the cylinder that will fit inside the little legs (the pillar post thingies) that come on the bottom of the separator plate. The cylinders do need to be in the middle and a few inches from the edge's of the cake. I have never had that problem. The cake's are sturdy when you move them. As I said I Love them would never go back to the old way.

shanter Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 9:31pm

I can't stop thinking of the poor little cherubs, swimming for their lives through white icing. icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif

BakingIrene Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 9:42pm

I use the plastic dowels and a mitre box to cut them all flat across and the same length. NO problem with any kind of cake even plain old fluffy cake mix...one ring of dowels per tier will do but ONLY if you put them in the right place. You have to mark where the next tier will go to make sure the dowels can do their job. On the bottom of five tiers, a few extra dowels in the middle.

On stacked cakes, I use two cardboards back to back with a dab of icing in between. The under cardboard has the greaseproof side down onto the icing. For 3 tiers no central dowel.

Chill each iced tier overnight BEFORE you deliver or stack it. Stack only onsite. Then the cake will be stable. As I only make buttercream cakes, that means the tiers are chilled at all times except when I am decorating. Maybe that's why mine never collapsed.

kakeladi Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 10:03pm

..... put a wooden dowel through all 4 tiers. (Note: I use cardboard cake circles, so a dowel with a sharpened end will easily go through. Otherwise, if you're using the plastic plates, you'll have to drill a hole in each.)... take a 1/4" dowel, cut it about 1/2" shorter than the height of the stacked cake. Sharpen the end of it using a paring knife, pencil sharpener, whatever, and gently hammer it down through the cakes....

It is better and much easier on the server if you leave the dowel *taller* than the total height of the cake - at least 1" so once you are at the venue it can be removed. The *only* purpose of that center dowel is to help hold the tiers from sliding apart during transportation. Leaving it in makes it hard for the server to take the tiers apart icon_sad.gif Hide the hole w/icing OR a flower or leaf or fill in w/icing.

It is soooooo much easier to use fat drink straws (think McDonald's). You find the highest spot on your cake (really there should not be a 'highest' spot if you used a cake leveler on each layer), stick one straw *straight* into the cake and mark where it meets the icing. Remove and cut *ALL* straws *for that tier* the same exact size. Do not cut all straws used for all the tiersto the same height- just the ones that go into that tier - as each tier can be slightly different - Make sure when inserting them into the cake that they go in straight. Push it in a bit that is stands alone and turn the cake around observing if it is straight, then push in about 1/2 way more & repeat observation; continue like that until all straws are in straight.

Annabakescakes Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 10:48pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by shanter

I can't stop thinking of the poor little cherubs, swimming for their lives through white icing. icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif




It was HORRIBLE! But we (as in, me and another of the past employees that witch terrorized) laugh and laugh about it now icon_twisted.gificon_twisted.gif

cheatize Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 10:59pm

The bottom tier started to crack before delivery, and even before stacking, correct?

This may not be a support problem but a cake problem. The vibration of the delivery could have cracked that bottom tier even more and once the crack got far enough into the cake, the top tier became unstable because the supports below it were unstable due to the lack of cake supporting the supports.

FromScratchSF Posted 11 Sep 2012 , 11:50pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheatize

The bottom tier started to crack before delivery, and even before stacking, correct?

This may not be a support problem but a cake problem. The vibration of the delivery could have cracked that bottom tier even more and once the crack got far enough into the cake, the top tier became unstable because the supports below it were unstable due to the lack of cake supporting the supports.




Agreed - I don't think your cake was "soft" or you used a bad support system - I think your cake was was crumbly due to improper mixing, improper measuring or overbaking. Once cake starts to crumble or crack, there's no saving it no matter how much icing you slather on it - It will just continue to crumble. Then when you add dowels (wood, plastic or otherwise) it weakens the cake's structure further making it almost sure to fall apart leaving your support system still standing.

My thoughts anyway!

pag41989 Posted 12 Sep 2012 , 12:41pm

Thanks everyone! I found a vanilla butter cake recipe on here that I tried out sunday and it came out much better and not crumbly or soft at all. I baked all the tiers last night and it came out nice and sturdy. Tonight I am filling and crumb coating the tiers then tomorrow I am starting on the frosting. I think my problem with the last cake which someone said was that I cut the dowels too short. I think this time instead of cutting them to go slightly below the frosting I am going to cut them even with the cake and then frost in any gaps where theres too much space. I use the wilton plastic dowels, since I am pretty comfortable with those I think I will stick with those for now and look into the SPS system next time. Thanks everyone! icon_smile.gif

shanter Posted 12 Sep 2012 , 3:16pm
Quote:
Originally Posted by shanter

Is it too obvious for me to point this out? With real cake, as opposed to dummies, if you do use the dowels (though I recommend the SPS), each tier is on a cake board when you place it on the dowels that are in the tier below.



I meant cake circle or cake cardboard, not cake board.

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