Okay, for this groom's cake I'm doing a mailbox (I posted about it a couple of weeks ago). My plan was to make 2 sheet cakes, cut them each in half and stack them to make four layers with oreo filling in between each layer. Do I need to put dowel rods in to support it? How tall do you think this should be? After filling and stacking them, I plan to partially freeze it so I can cut the top corners into a rounded shape (like a mailbox looks). Should I shape the cakes before they're stacked? Basically, I need all the help I can get with this one. I really want to do a good job. So please, if anyone has the time and patience, could you kind of guide me step by step through this? I've only done regular sheet cakes and two layer rounds. Also, when baking sheet cakes (or any cakes for that matter), how do you get your cakes tall enough to be able to torte it after you've leveled it? Once I try to level my cakes, I really don't have much left, so I usually end up not leveling. I just flip my cakes over onto the board after they've cooled in the pan and use the flat bottom as my top. But they never look perfectly straight and level. And my cakes just aren't very thick. I used the search option here for "leveling cakes" and saw some good topics, but when I clicked on the topic to read it, I was taken back to the home page. Help please!
Well I'm no expert, but I would definitely put dowel rods in. I usually just use plastic straws for my cakes.
Have you used the flattening method where you take a clean towel, lay it across the cake, and press down 'till it's flat, immediately after you take it out of the oven? This is what I've always done and it works great. Then I flip it over and the bottom becomes the top also.
torting is a skill, and a skill best developed with the longest saw knife you can lay your hands on. of course, you can avoid torting altogether by baking a series of layers in jelly-roll type pans instead of in one big cake pan (see my suggestion in the "help, my cake layer broke" forum). frozen cake is easier to torte. and cakes that you're going to carve should be frozen as solid as possible. straws are definitely the way to go for stabilizing stacked cakes, and if you're carving, you can insert a full-size straw into the middle of the cake, and hold onto it while you carve with the other hand (this helps steady both the cake and your nerves) -- when you're done, just trim the straw to the surface level of the cake and ice over.
when you level your cakes, don't fret over getting the whole thing level -- just make sure to remove any major humps and then invert. or, you could also get 3 layers out of a deep-enough cake by torting the rounded top plus some, then cutting the remaining cake in half, and using the rounded top (inverted so it's flat on top) as your centre layer. no waste, and you get a higher, more impressive-looking cake.
you might also consider baking in deeper pans, or only using pans that have straight sides (which can make a difference).
if your cakes are not big enough it could be a couple of things
Are you using a mix ? if so which one Pillsbury must have less batter or they just do not rise as much as BC or DH so you may just no have enough batter in the pan
Are you over baking? If a cake is baked to long not burnt just overbaked it starts to shrink Try baking at 325 and check earlier your oven may also run hot check with a thermometer
as far as carving I would stack the layers and freeze then carve the shape you want
but if your cake is to narrow it will tip over sideways and dowels will not help
I would do a 9x13 pan 4 of them and cut about 2 inches off the side it should be stable then and look like one of those bigger mailboxes that take packages
Are you putting enough batter in your pans? I usually put a little extra batter in my pans...bake on 325...and then even with the large wilton leveler. This has always worked for me. I think it would be a good idea to stack the cakes....freeze...then carve. It will be easier to cut a fim cake. Good luck!