I was wondering if someone out there had a fool proof method of sticking one dowel thru the whole cake. Thanks!
Sharpen the dowel first before hammering it into the cake, either with a knife or with a pencil sharpener (one that has NEVER been used for anything other than dowels)
I agree with KLundberg. I used to "hammer" it by slightly tapping on it but now I just twist while applying pressure. That way I have more of a feel for how it's progressing through the cake.
Do not forget to at least put a cut through your cardboard under your layers. That would stop or at least give you problems trying to get the dowel through all the layers. I just took my knife and sliced an X in the middle of the cardboard then placed the cake on it Then the sharpened the dowel as suggested.
I just love this topic because it's so important if you're transporting multi-tiered cakes....I just sharpen the dowel with a pencil sharpener, then pound it through with a hammer. I always use nothing more than a 1/4" dowel, I never cut slits or anything in the cardboards, I just pound the dowel in with authority and confidence!!!! Good luck--it works so well, and I transport cakes over really horrendous dirt roads in rural Oklahoma.
I sharpen my dowel to a point, then just push it through with my thumb. When I get to the bottom I use another small piece of dowel and a hammer to tap it into the bottom board.
I have never made a cake with more than 2 tiers, but I did find an interesting topic once.... someone put it through the bottom somehow and also I see people using the plate systems. I think it is called SPS.
Just do a topic search for them. I will try to find them also.
I sharpen my dowel and then push through kind of twisting as I go, I don't cut slits in my foamboard ever and I have never had a problem getting it through, then I mark where it needs to be cut and then pull back out, cut and push back in, works great.
What mencked said.
Due to the "terrible" influence of CC'ers, I just tried this method a few weeks ago. I've now got 3 whole 'delivered assembled' cakes under my belt!
So as a person who was scared to death to try it, if you do it just like mencked said, you will have zero problems.
Thanks for all the great responses!
I've gotta agree with debi on this, I was so scared to do it, and after trying it recently, I'm SOLD! Did a TT with it a few weeks ago and it never budged during transport! Now I don't use a hammer (as I'm clumbsy and scared I'll miss the dowel and hit the cake) so I use the back side of a ladle.
Just a word of caution
I use a central dowel for all of my tiered cakes, and yes it definitely works wonders! But, last weekend I was transporting a few larger stacked cakes and had to come to a quick stop (a nice young man pulled out in front of me ) wasnt going that fast and didnt hit the breaks that hard BUT we all know cake is very heavy.
Long story short the bottom tier on one of the cakes shifted forward, swallowed the bottom border and stairsteped each of the 4 cake layers in the tier (it was ugly). I spent close to 2 hours at the reception site making repairs. It could have been worse, it could have completely collasped and/or fallen into another cake (I pulled over and disassembled the upper tiers to prevent further damage).
What did I learn? Central dowels are great, but there is no way to control other drivers. It takes me a lot less time to stack a few tiers/add final touches at the site then it does to make major repairs to a cake to get it back to its original glory! Not to mention if I couldnt have fixed it, it would have been major dollars out of my pocket, I work to hard for that! Sooo, Im going back to stacking no more than 2 on large cakes.
I do the sharpen and pound too. Sometimes if it's a bigger cake, I'll use two dowels. I am VERY paranoid about it!
I was nervous too. It goes through VERY nicely and holds a cake very steady. No special technique, no cuts (though I guess that's a good idea, but if your forget, don't fret) required!