I made my first tiered cake two weeks ago. It all went fairy well until I started to dowel and stack it. When I placed a cardboard round on the cake (to get a feel of where the dowels and cakes would be sitting) and then to lift if off, with it came the chocolate glaze and ganache with it. Ouch!!!... Anyhow we scraped it off and spread it back on the cake. Then attempted to make the dowels slightly higher than the cake so the cake would sit slightly above the cake not on it. I didn't want the caterers to lift off cakes and half the icing with it!!!! Well wasn't that a debarkle....Lets just say My my mum (my saving grace) and I were up until 3 am on that Friday night (I had to be up at 6 am next morn. to deliver the cake)...fixing this!!!....The layers were slightly domed on the sides an in the middle so it meant in some areas the dowels sunk into the cakes and other areas they set well above the cake.... Looking at the cakes they looked pretty even...but obviously they weren't.....It took us a lot of tries (pulling out dowels and starting again) to get it right!!!....The cakes sat above the dowels and the gaps were hidden by ribbon...(I've posted the photo of the cake) it has butterflies on it!!!.....What should I do next time??? I've heard of ppl using icing sugar inbetween the layers...Is that okay for fondant??? What about with cakes covered in chocolate glaze???? Please help?
I have a few ideas, although I'm certainly not a pro! These are just things that I do in my layered cakes.
Before you frost your cakes, level off the domes on the sides and tops, so that they are as flat as possible. If your cake crumbles too much to get a flat surface, you may need a different recipe - I use The Cake Mix Doctor recipes a lot, along with scratch pound cake recipes. It also helps to freeze the cakes before trying to carve them. A big serrated knife works great for leveling cakes.
With my buttercream and ganache cakes, I make sure to let them crust/dry before trying to stack them, and even put them in the fridge for a while so that they are "dry" as I'm stacking.
When I'm getting ready to dowel, I use a sewing gauge to measure the how long the dowels should be - just stick it right into the cake, and move the lever down to the top of the cake. I always make my dowels flush with the top of the cake, or a tiny bit shorter, but never taller (that's just me though, I don't know how others do it). Then use that measurement to cut your dowels. Buttercream and ganache is going to stick to the cake boards to some degree, that's just how it goes.
I also run one long dowel down the center of the whole cake, to keep it from moving side to side.
And if you're using fondant, don't dowel the layers until they are covered in fondant.
I'm hoping some pros answer too! I would love to hear other people's ideas.
Thanks wyowolf. Do you use icing sugar or anything else between the layers to minimise sticking? I don't mind a little sticking but this cake board lifted of A Lot of icing!!! By the sounds of it you assemble you cake before you transport it!. I use thick cardboard cake rounds (my layers are heavy) so it would be hard to put a dowel right through all tiers!
I've never used icing sugar - never had a need to. I have made cakes where each tier is sitting on the bottom of the cake rounds instead of the tops - so that the shiny, silver, smooth side is the one in contact with the frosting.
I also use thick cardboard cake rounds; I cut a small hole right in the center of each one before I even put the cake on it, and then frost and decorate. Then the cardboard isn't an issue when I slide each layer down the center dowel. I also use the regular supports in each tier - lots of people use dowels or straws, but I use this flexible pvc pipe I get at the hardware store.
And yes, 90% of the time I do assemble my cakes before transporting.