Tilting Cakes!

Decorating By Danaeats Updated 22 Oct 2014 , 4:54am by Danaeats

Danaeats Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 6:51am
post #1 of 15

Hi all! 


Can someone help me out with this ongoing disaster I've been facing! All of my cakes are leaning! 


I always trim my cakes and I always use a dowel (or two if necessary). My cakes are always completely straight and level after I trim the tops and ice them. However, once the cake is decorated (buttercream or fondant), it eventually starts to lean sideways or backwards! I don't know why this keeps happening. I'm starting to think it might be that my buttercream recipe isn't strong enough, maybe the buttercream is melting on the inside? I live in a really hot environment but my house is always super cold so that my cakes stay cool. 




Help anyone! It's really upsetting seeing your cake look like it's about to tilt over and break after so much hard work :( 

14 replies
morganchampagne Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 7:20am
post #2 of 15

AWhen you say one dowel...do you mean you use one or two for the WHOLE cake? If so that's the problem. There should be 5-7 dowels in EACH tier.

Danaeats Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 7:48am
post #3 of 15

Hi morganchampagne!


Is that for large cakes? I haven't made any huge tiered cakes yet so I thought smaller cakes would do with one or two max. Oops!! 


The cake in the photo for example is made of three 6" round cakes stacked and I used one large plastic dowel rod in the middle for support. All was perfect until the cake started to lean about an hour after chilling in the fridge. How many would you suggest for a cake that size? 


Thanks a million for your response! 


winniemog Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 7:56am
post #4 of 15

AI add dowels and a card board under the next tier for every 4" of height of cake. You could get away with 5" Ok too. As [@]morganchampagne[/@] said, you need multiple dowels per tier. I would probably only use 4 dowels for a 6" round cake.

For a cake like this, I would use chocolate mud cake which is nice and dense and fill with ganache, also coating with ganache. This gives a lot of stability.

Your problem is the height of the cake, plus or minus the actual cake and fillings you are using.

morganchampagne Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 8:52am
post #5 of 15

AFor 3 6" cakes I would use about 4 dowels in each of the bottom two cake, I tend to be on the side of using more than I probably need.

I would definitely say the dowels were your problem :) you need dowels anytime you are stacking more than 4" of cake no matter what the size. winniemog gave you an awesome reply that's more in depth

Danaeats Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 10:59am
post #6 of 15

Ok I will definitely be using multiple dowels from now on! 


@winniemog I've never coated a cake with ganache although I've been wanting to try it for a while now. Do you have a recipe for Ganache that you recommend? I'm not a fan of dark chocolate so I think I'll try making it with semi-sweet chocolate..


Thanks you all for your answers. Much appreciated! 

CWR41 Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 1:22pm
post #7 of 15

Learn how to build tiered cakes here... http://www.wilton.com/cakes/tiered-cakes/

leah_s Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 2:01pm
post #8 of 15

Also look into SPS.  Your cakes definitely will not lean.  See my signature line.

cai0311 Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 5:02pm
post #9 of 15

AFor any tiered cake I use bubble tea straws as my supports in each tier. I base the number of straws off the tier they are supporting. I use 2 less straws than the diameter.

So, for a 10" cake with an 8" cake sitting on it I use 6 straws. For an 8" cake with a 6" cake sitting on it I use 4 straws. Make sense? Once stacked I hammer wooden dowels all the way through the cake. For a 2 tiered cake I only use 1 dowel, but for a 3 or more tiered cake I hammer 2 offset dowels into the cake. I use a pencil sharpener (only used on dowels) to sharpen the end going through the cakes. It will go right through the cardboard between layers.

I use this method for all cakes - whether 2 tiers or 10 tiers.

Another thought is if you are letting the cakes settle once filled. I like to let me my cakes settle at least 8 hours once filled before icing.

I ice all my fondant covered cakes with ganache. It just holds up better to the weight of fondant. For dark chocolate I use a 2:1 ratio (2 parts chocolate to 1 part heavy whipping cream). For white chocolate I use a 3:1 ratio (3 parts chocolate to 1 part heavy whipping cream). I will only ice cakes with white chocolate ganache because if I have to take the fondant off and reapply the white chocolate ganache doesn't discolor the fondant. Which means less waste - which means less cost.

winniemog Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 6:55pm
post #10 of 15

AGanache recipes: I use similar ratios to [@]cai0311[/@], 2:1 for dark chocolate to cream (I use 53.5% chocolate so that's what you would consider semisweet, it's actually not too bitter and balances the sweetness of the cake well) and 3:1 for white choc. BUT you mention you're in a hot climate, in summer in Australia I up my ratios to 3:1 dark choc: cream and 4:1 for white choc. Our summer temps can be up to 45 deg Celcius, typically well in the 30s....it's too early to convert to Fahrenheit but that's pretty hot!

I tend to avoid white choc myself because it can be too sweet, but it's great combined with lemon curd or raspberry fillings as then the sweetness is balanced by these more bitter/sour flavours. I don't tend to peel my fondant off, I try to get it right first time!!

You will find the ganache so much more stable for your climate I think. It's much firmer at room temp compared with say a SMBC esp in warmer weather. Do try the 3:1 ratio for semisweet choc and see how you go.

And do start using lots of dowels and a card board under each tier and I think you'll feel a lot safer and happier.

No more tilting cakes for you!

Gator Gal Posted 20 Oct 2014 , 11:28pm
post #11 of 15

AI like using ganache but sometimes I don't want the chocolate flavor. What do you recommend if you don't want the chocolate flavor but want the great sturdiness it adds to large cakes?

winniemog Posted 21 Oct 2014 , 12:42am
post #12 of 15

AWhite chocolate is more neutral but still chocolate!

morganchampagne Posted 21 Oct 2014 , 2:11am
post #13 of 15

AI honestly guys have had amazing results with a meringue buttercream. Withstands handling well, I can really work it and smooth it when it's chilled. Although I suspect any all butter bc would work honestly

ellavanilla Posted 21 Oct 2014 , 5:39pm
post #14 of 15


Originally Posted by morganchampagne 

I honestly guys have had amazing results with a meringue buttercream. Withstands handling well, I can really work it and smooth it when it's chilled. Although I suspect any all butter bc would work honestly



right, because the cake is supported by the internal supports and not the buttercream. OP, you also need cardboard rounds. This is a simple illustration of the concept



Danaeats Posted 22 Oct 2014 , 4:48am
post #15 of 15

@cai0311 That's actually a really good method to use! I'm going to try that from now on, thank you!! I never thought a sharpened dowel would actually go through a cake board though, I need to try that. Would be a lifesaver if it worked! 


@winniemog 'it's too early to convert to Fahrenheit but that's pretty hot!' <- that was hilarious! It reaches 45 degrees C too in the summer over here so if you say ganache works for you with the heat then I can take your word on it. I'm going to try using semisweet ganache on my next cake. Will post a photo up when I do! Thank you! 


@ellavanilla that's helpful, thanks!

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