pastrymaniac Posted 16 Jan 2013 , 6:43am
post #1 of

Hi everyone,

 

I need urgent suggestions on how to prevent my tiered wedding cakes from sinking during the Summer (it always happens when I try to deliver them already stacked and assembled). I usually use the strong plastic dowels under the cake boards method.

 

I have read wonderful things about the pipe/flange cake stacking method and I think I understand how it works after having seen all the pics posted by several people. I understand that this method holds all the tiers together, but how do we prevent the top tiers from sinking into the bottom tiers, using dowels as usual ?

 

Why is this method safer than the usual wooden dowel crossing all the tiers?

What is the best way to prevent cake sinking when transporting tiered cakes (buttercreamed covered in fondant) in the Summer heat ?

 

Is the SPS system the same as using the Wilton plate and pillar method ?

 

Suggestions appreciated...

 

Thanks

 

Sara

35 replies
JanH Posted 16 Jan 2013 , 7:37am
post #2 of

Everything you need to know to bake, make and decorate tiered, stacked and layer cakes:

 

http://cakecentral.com/t/605188/not-a-pro-is-it-hard-to-make-wedding-cakes

 

HTH

BlakesCakes Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 1:51am
post #3 of

I'm sorry to say this, but if the dowels are cut and placed properly AND the cake boards are sturdy enough, there is really no structural reason at all for the "top tiers to sink into the bottom tiers".

 

First an foremost, if it's hot, the cake and/or the transport vehicle MUST be cooled to less than 80F.  The cake MUST be placed out of direct sunlight.  It must be on a completely FLAT surface--NOT in a trunk/boot, but in an area where the air conditioning will keep it cool.  I also put my cakes on at least 2 layers of memory foam to dampen the vibration of the road--it really, really helps.

 

For stacking, I use 3/16th inch foamcore boards (I cut them with a heated xacto knife, sanitize them with vanilla extract, and wipe on a coating of melted food grade soy wax) and bubble tea straws (or Wilton hollow plastic dowels).  The dowels need to be cut to a point just above the finish icing and they all must be exactly the same height.

 

For very tall cakes or very long drives, I put in 2 full length wooden dowels to prevent slippage.  For smaller cakes or short drives, I may use 1 full length dowel--or none--depending on the design.'

 

HTH

Rae
 

costumeczar Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 2:05am
post #4 of

AI don't use any thing other than wooden dowels and sturdy boards between the tiers and nothing sinks. If the cake is dowelled the right way nothing should be able to sink, the tiers will all be supported and won't be able to sink. If the dowels are too short the tiers could sink into each other, though.

AnnieCahill Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 2:12am
post #5 of

AYep, or if you cut the dowels below the icing, it can give the illusion that the cake is sinking.

lvtig1 Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 3:26am
post #6 of

I love this video!  I thought it was very helpful!!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSPfPGle33U

"How to build a Wedding Cake"

Evoir Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 4:18am
post #7 of
Quote:
Originally Posted by pastrymaniac 

 

Why is this method safer than the usual wooden dowel crossing all the tiers?

What is the best way to prevent cake sinking when transporting tiered cakes (buttercreamed covered in fondant) in the Summer heat ?

 

 

 

The usual method is using a number of equally-spaced dowels between each board, ie within each tier. If all you are doing is putting a dowel through the whole cake, "crossing all tiers" as you say,. then yes, you are going to get sinkage.

 

This is how I read your statement above...is that what you mean?

pastrymaniac Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 5:12am
post #8 of

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. That was not what I meant Evoir.

 

So that it´s  clear to everyone I do it the following way (and it hasn´t been working) : aside from putting a dowel through the whole cake at the end I use Wilton hollow dowel rods between tiers and still add some non hollow plastic dowels (so I think this is not the cause of my problems), I cut all my dowels completely level with the cake and I use simple cardboard cake boards (3mm thick ones, 1/8 inch): I think these two issues might be causing my problems. 

 

Since I can´t find foamcore boards here should I use sturdier cake boards under each tier (I can buy 1/2 inch ones, should these do the trick ?) and how higher than my cake should I cut my dowels to release the weight from the top tier and not get a gap between the tiers?

 

Blakescakes what do you mean by memory foam, is it fluffy or like foamcore? Sorry I did not understand how high are your foamcore boards (more used to metric system lol) ... Thanks for all the tips !

 

Also should I refrigerate my fondant cakes overnight (inside boxes to avoid sweating) before transport when it is 90-95 º temperature ?

 

I know I will succeed with everyone´s help, thanks again. I had a wedding and a birthday cake sinking last summer and it was totally nerve wrecking !

 

:-) Sara

CWR41 Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 5:27am
post #9 of

Corrugated cardboard is enough.  Your methods are fine.  Perhaps your description of "sinking" is really "settling" instead.  You may want to read Leah's thread about her "new trick".

 

Here's the link...

http://cakecentral.com/t/633571/my-newest-trick
 

leah_s Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 5:34am

AIll put in a good word tor SPS. With the plastic plates that are part of the system plus the usual cardboards nothing is going to sink. More info in my signature line.

pastrymaniac Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 6:01am

Thanks  for your reply CWR 41. My cakes really sunk and partially destroyed the bottom tiers (cake disaster lol). Are corrugated boards several 1/8 inch cardboards taped together (different supplies here in Europe...) ? How thick should they be in the end?

 

Who thinks that I should cut my dowels slightly higher than the cake?

 

Leah, do you know if I can buy SPS from some retailer here in Europe ?

 

Does anyone swear by the Wilton plate and pillar method as a replacer of SPS?

 

Thanks everyone...  :-)

 

Sara

BlakesCakes Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 6:04am
Quote:
Originally Posted by pastrymaniac 

Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. That was not what I meant Evoir.

 

So that it´s  clear to everyone I do it the following way (and it hasn´t been working) : aside from putting a dowel through the whole cake at the end I use Wilton hollow dowel rods between tiers and still add some non hollow plastic dowels (so I think this is not the cause of my problems), I cut all my dowels completely level with the cake and I use simple cardboard cake boards (3mm thick ones, 1/8 inch): I think these two issues might be causing my problems. 

 

Since I can´t find foamcore boards here should I use sturdier cake boards under each tier (I can buy 1/2 inch ones, should these do the trick ?) and how higher than my cake should I cut my dowels to release the weight from the top tier and not get a gap between the tiers?

 

Blakescakes what do you mean by memory foam, is it fluffy or like foamcore? Sorry I did not understand how high are your foamcore boards (more used to metric system lol) ... Thanks for all the tips !

 

Also should I refrigerate my fondant cakes overnight (inside boxes to avoid sweating) before transport when it is 90-95 º temperature ?

 

I know I will succeed with everyone´s help, thanks again. I had a wedding and a birthday cake sinking last summer and it was totally nerve wrecking !

 

:-) Sara


It would help to know where you're located.

 

I have no faith in basic cardboard cake boards for heavy tiered, transported cakes.  3mm is actually just over 1/10th of an inch, so that's pretty thin.  My foamcore boards are 4.75 mm thick and 10X sturdier than corrugated cardboard.  You could put together several regular cardboards--3, at least--alternating the way the corrugation goes and it'll be much better.  Even if they're not corrugated, I'd still put at least 2 together.

 

Dowels need to be 1.5 to 3mm above the finish icing.

 

Memory foam is visco elastic foam padding used in Tempurpedic mattresses.   It can be purchased in sheets for use as a mattress pad.  I buy a twin size and cut it in half so that it's then twice as thick.

 

If it's that hot when you deliver, yes, I'd definitely refrigerate.

 

Rae

costumeczar Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 12:02pm

AI wouldn't use cardboard rounds either, I use corrugated plastic tuffboards. No grease can defeat that!

pastrymaniac Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 4:29pm

I am located in Portugal and I buy most of my cake decorating supplies online from the UK and somethings (like long wooden dowels) at home improvements shops.

 

Thanks

 

Sara

pastrymaniac Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 4:30pm

Thanks so much Rae for all your help.

BlakesCakes Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 10:17pm

Any time.  Hope all of the advice helps things go better with the next cake.

 

Rae

meriem Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 10:58pm

AI used the Wilton dowels and separator plate. And they worked great for me. I did have a thin cake board on the plate, but that was only because I decorated it on it before stacking, and thought it will also be easier to place the plate empty so I can get it on straight in the center ( as I was nervous of using it for the first time, after having a previous disaster stacking cakes with just wooden dowels) but I see know reason why you can't decorate straight onto the separator plate.

meriem Posted 17 Jan 2013 , 11:08pm

AI should add the reason stacking with onlywooden dowels didn't work for me was because I didn't insert them into the cake completely straight as I was rushing the job. So in principle those should work just as well but I wanted to be safe the second time round and chose to try out the separator plates.

pastrymaniac Posted 18 Jan 2013 , 12:24am

Thanks Rae, I am sure things will definitely go better with my next cakes, I will be searching for some sturdier cake boards...

 

Thanks for sharing your experience Meriem, did you also cut your plastic dowels slightly higher than the iced cake? Did you transport your cake stacked or did you assemble it  at the reception? And how did you attach the card board to the plastic plate (double tape, royal icing...). I am always afraid the upper cakes might slide from the plastic plates...

 

I suppose the only issue with Wilton´s plastic plates/pillars method is not being able to cross a dowel trough all cakes at the end... Unless you drill your plastic plates in the middle (just me thinking)... Has anyone done that?

 

How do I make sure my cakes will not slide from the plastic plates if I try this method?

 

Thanks  everyone.

BlakesCakes Posted 18 Jan 2013 , 1:06am

If I use the Wilton plastic plates, I still put on a cardboard because I'll be moving the cake around while decorating.  I also don't like the idea of people cutting the cake and "carving" up the plastic plates--which I re-use.

 

I attach the cardboard to the plastic plate with some double sided tape.  Cake is attached to the cardboard with some buttercream.  Nothing goes anywhere.

 

Rae

costumeczar Posted 18 Jan 2013 , 1:12am

A center dowel isn't necessary, I never use one.

pastrymaniac Posted 18 Jan 2013 , 2:33am

Thanks again Rae,

 

glad to know that you have used this method as an successful alternative without any issues (unlike SPs system I can have the Wilton plates and pillars delivered to me here in Portugal). I will try both methods nextime : Wilton´s and sturdier foam core boards (or something similar).

 

When I try Wilton´s method I do not want the plastic plates to be showing around the cake, should I buy the plastic plates the same size as the cakes that will go on top of it (do not know if they will be showing) or should I buy them an inch smaller than the cake? Do you also cut your dowels 3 mm higher than the cake icing with these?

 

Glad to know "nothing goes anywhere with these" lol !

 

Thanks  costumeczar for sharing your experience.

meriem Posted 18 Jan 2013 , 3:21pm

I cut the dowels slightly higher than the cakes as i wanted the cake on top to sit on the dowels and not the actual cake. were talking a 1 or 2 millimeters here, so the dowels will not be visible. I stuck the board onto the plate using royal icing but you can uses double sided tape too just make sure that its a strong one. It was only two tiers so I transported it stacked. if it was more than that I would of stacked two at home transported them like that then stacked the rest at the venue just to be safe. you can dowel the cakes at home and double check that its all good before so then they will be ready to be stacked at the venue without any hassle.  also when doweling i found it helps to place a empty board on the dowels and check the level with a spirit to double check that all the dowels are level.

I don't think you will need a big dowel in the middle there should be enough support already it.

pastrymaniac Posted 18 Jan 2013 , 4:15pm

Great tips Meriem, liked the idea of using the empty board to confirm if dowels are leveled :-)

 

Thanks again for sharing your experience...

zjones4 Posted 19 Jan 2013 , 6:37am

AHere is another possibility that may possibly be a factor in the sinking. The buttercream underneath the fondant (and even the fondant itself) may be sagging downward. The only solution I can think of is to pull the cake out of your cooler and immediately transport it to the venue.

You can try stiffening your buttercream a little by not making it so soft either. Some cake bsuinesses like to add as much water to their buttercream as possible to increase profit margins. This makes a very insubstantial buttercream and has a risk of becoming runny. If that doesn't make it sag, then a layer of buttercream standing sideways with fondant over it will do the trick! Perhaps trying an ever so slightly thinner layer of buttercream will help?

Some issues like your case may need several solutions, each swaying the margin of success into your favor. Good luck with everything, I hope you find a solid solution.

pastrymaniac Posted 19 Jan 2013 , 5:33pm

Thanks for the suggestion zjones4, I agree that buttercream might also be very important to this sinking issue. I have been using an all butter ABC because of the flavour (insist on that) and adding just a tiny bit of milk/cream (so it is a thick filling) but I know I will have to eventualy start using a part of shortening ( grr ) for stability.

 

I made some research and found that if adding a bit of gum tragacanth or xanthan gum to my buttercream (both flavourless) they will thicken it and  make it more stable, has anyone tried this? 

 

I will also try  IMB (italian meringue buttercream) and see how stable it is under hot conditions, has anyone had successful experience using IMB  (without shortening added) during the Summer ? 

 

Usually I end up finishing some decorations on the cake before delivery so sometimes it is not transported as cold as desired, will definitely change that procedure...

And I think I should also have to make my buttercream layer of buttercream under the fondant a bit thinner. Is 1/2 inch a good thickness of buttercream under my fondant ? 

 

Thanks everyone...

 

Sara

zjones4 Posted 20 Jan 2013 , 3:26am

AI am a big supporter of IMB. It works great and when made right, it holds a good shape, soft texture, and is still firm enough for other applications.

Another thing that can be done is to cook the sugar about 5degrees F more than normal. This gives a little more firmness and stability. As a side note, making italian meringue with a sugar cooked to firm ball stage makes marahmallows! The only other thing needed is gelatin when is aded at the end of making the meringue.

pastrymaniac Posted 20 Jan 2013 , 5:35am

Thank you very much for the tip  of cooking the sugar a bit more zjones4.

 

Do you do your IMB without shortening and it still keeps stable in the summer? Does it keep fluffy, smooth and "binded" when the cake comes out of the refrigerator and comes to room temperature ? I ask this because when I keep my SMB in the fridge in a container I have to  wait for it to come to room temperature and rewhip it so that it becomes fluffy and "binded" again as opposed to semi curdled. I have heard many people stating that they refrigerate their cakes filled with SMB or IMB and that the filling remains great when the cake comes to room temperature (which is intriguing for me, I mean why doesn´t that happen when it is kept in a container in the fridge ?), is that right ?

 

Do the cakes filled with IMB hold  for a while in a venue without air conditioning in the Summer?

 

Ever heard of adding gum trag or xanthan gum to buttercream?

 

Thanks again...

 

Sara

costumeczar Posted 20 Jan 2013 , 12:41pm

I use IMBC for 90% of my cake fillings, and they're fine once they come to room temperature. It's only when you try to smooth it out with a spatula that it needs to be rewhipped to get the right consistency. Once you rewhip it it's never going to be exactly the same as a freshly made batch, thogh, so I never rewhip it if it's going to go on the outside of the cake, I would just make a new batch to use for that.

 

It will stand up okay in air conditioning in the summer, but I'd treat it like any other buttercream that actually has butter in it and not leave it outside in the heat without expecting it to melt.

 

You can take the sugar to 255 degrees when you cook it to make it a little stiffer, and you can also add some confectioner's sugar to it, or make it half and half with a shortening based icing to change the consistency and make it a little less likely to melt, but the heat will get it eventually if it's really hot outside and it's not in an air conditioned room.

pastrymaniac Posted 20 Jan 2013 , 4:18pm

Thanks so much for sharing your experience costumeczar, I will try and cook the sugar to 255 egrees and use a part of shortening.

 

Glad to know it stands up ok in an air conditioning room. What percentage of confectioner´s sugar do you mean and do you add it before you cook the sugar/syrup or after  when you are whipping?

 

Thanks,

 

Sara

Quote by @%username% on %date%

%body%