How do you guys know where to cut the height of your dowels at? Do you measure your tiers and say the tier is 6 inches tall, well do you cut all the dowels at 6inches? The reason I am asking is because I can never, ever get my cakes iced level across the top. They are always slanted. So would it be best for me to measure the height of the tier, cut the dowels and if some dowels stick up they stick up, and if they don't, they don't? The bottom of the tiers will have a ribbon around the base so if there is a small gap that is fine .. I just want to make the cakes nice and level and I really seem to struggle with that.
I push the dowel into the cake and then very very gently push it to the side a teeny bit so the buttercream gets on the dowel and makes a line on where I need to cut. Or you can put your finger where you need to cut. Then I pull it out a few inches (make sure you're inserting and pulling out straight up and down), cut it, and then push it back down into the cake. That way I know for sure it won't stick out.
I use to measure one, and then try to cut them all the same length, but I would find that some were a teeny bit taller than the others and would stick out, so now I measure each one Hope that helps!
First, the cake you are doweling must be level. What I do is, stick in a dowel rod then pull it out. The icing always leaves a mark. Cut the first one then cut ALL other dowel rods for that tier the same height. You will probably get many answers to your question. I'd read them all, then do what works for you....but the one thing that does not change is they should all be cut to the height of that FIRST one you put in.
The bottom of the tiers will have a ribbon around the base so if there is a small gap that is fine ..
If you don't cut all of the dowels the same, your final result would be crooked. If you do end up with a gap, and try to cover it up with the ribbon, then the ribbon would also be applied crooked (unless you'd try to dig it into the cake on the high side). It's best to start with a leveled top, and cut all of the dowels the same.
thanks you guys .. how do you always get the tops of your cakes level? I eye it because I don't really know what else to do and then when I stand back to check it out I always think my eyes must be crooked on my face or something ... how do you guarantee that your cakes are level every time?
I use the wilton leveler. There are 2 sizes but the small one is too small for 1/2 sheet cakes so I use the big one for all cakes. It's like a saw and you can adjust it. They have it at my walmart in the wilton section and at my local party supply store. Some people hate it....I have not problem with it. I cannot level by eye-balling it. I don't even want to try when there are cake saws available. Easy Peasy!
Level icing or level cake?
For cake, I place a cake board on top of the cake and then place a level on the cake board to make sure it's level.
For doweling, I'd like to add that if the cake isn't completely level, stick your first dowel in the highest spot and then cut the rest of the dowels the same length. However, I'm talking about very minor differences in level from spot to spot. If it is really uneven, you will have a large uneven gap you will have to cover.
I actually use a bullet level I bought just for my cakes. I level each layer, then after I finish with either the ganache or buttercream, I level it. Then I put on the fondant. If your base (foundation) isn't level it will throw off the entire cake. You can compensate a little with the ganache or buttercream, or you can make little concessions by making the dowels or straws the same size.
If you are having a problem with the icing on the top of the cake being unlevel, pipe it in circles with a bag and open coupler. Then rest a hot spatula on the top of the cake and give it a spin to smooth it out.
thanks you guys. I was referring to the icing itself. I also use the wilton leveler on my cakes. I like to believe my cake is level and it's just the icing but I suppose from now on out I should make sure the cake is level before I ice it! Guess it would stand to reason if my cake was uneven the icing would be uneven as well ..
I was told years ago not to cut all of your dowels the same size because most cakes are not always the same height. Start in the middle and press in your dowel mark at the frosting level remove and cut. Then do the same process with all of your other dowels.
I dont mean to hi-jack this post but how do you guys cut your dowels? I have a wire cutter and this has so far been the best way for me but they always looked chewed up where i cut them and they are always a different size.
Pruning Shears I bought just for cutting dowels for cakes.
Edna has a tutorial for stacking cakes that might solve your problem. She cuts the dowels slightly short and carves out some of the icing so the tier kinda sinks in a bit. Look at the tutorial "How to stack a cake."
I swear by this method too! I just stacked a 10 inch, 8 inch and 4 inch this weekend. I put it in the car and delivered it to where it needed to go, STACKED! We also (my DH cause my knee is messed up) carried it stacked up 2 flights of stairs. (Black and White and 40 cake in my photos)
It was a tall heavy cake, my layers were tall but it didn't budge. Edna used 2 long dowels to stabilize, I used 3!
BEST DOWELS EVER ---
Use these for all my cakes, they work great and cut very easily with pruning snips.
Starting using Wilton Cookie sticks after reading Toba Garrett's book, but was always worried that the paper would absorb the moisture from the cake and start to unravel.
Then one day I had a brainstorm -- I put them inside of regular drinking straws (they fit perfect!) and whola, the perfect dowels! The cookie sticks are strong and the straws protect them from absorbing moisture.
To cut them to fit, I too put one in the lowest point on my cake, pull it out and cut it where the icing line is. I then cut the remaining dowels for that tier to that same length.
thanks everyone! Well I will certainly check out that thread from Edna .. I doweled the cake by using the wilton plastic dowels and cut one to the tallest point in the cake and cut the others to match it. The finished product looked ok (it's in my photos) I just wish I could learn to ice more level, then I wouldn't have these worries!
I just wish I could learn to ice more level, then I wouldn't have these worries!
Are you using a free-spinning turntable that doesn't wobble?
With just one spin or two, it should be level.
yes .. I believe I have the fat daddio spin table? Ceramic base, metal base for the cake to sit on, very heavy! I don't know why I struggle with this ...