Question About Cake Construction & Dowel Rods

Decorating By annakat444 Updated 6 Apr 2012 , 6:40am by Apti

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annakat444 Posted 6 Apr 2012 , 1:20am
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Hi all! I'm baking the biggest cake I've ever done this weekend and am SO excited! Wuhoo! I've done a 2-tiered cake before, but this one is a 3 tier and I am thinking ahead because I don't want any surprises the day of the party!

I've never used dowel rods - the other 2-tiered cakes I've done, I used sturdy straws with no problem. Anything special I need to know about them? Are they basically the same concept as the straws? The cake will be 12-9-6 round.

Also, the shower is saturday morning - will the cake be ok if I stack it tomorrow night? I'm guessing as long as I'm using the dowel rods it'll be fine, but it still makes me nervous. Just need reassurance!

Last question - is it necessary to use a center dowel rod that runs through the center of the entire cake? I was planning to use a board under each layer and just have rods for each tier. Will the cake slide around without the central rod?

Thank you all for your help! I honestly have NO idea what I'd do without this forum!

9 replies
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CWR41 Posted 6 Apr 2012 , 1:42am
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This should answer your construction questions:

Choose the type of construction you'll be doing, and read the directions. HTH.

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kimma1299 Posted 6 Apr 2012 , 1:48am
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Yes, you need a center dowl rod for the cake. Sharpen one end and then you will need to put it straigh through all three layers ( I usually use the end of my big knife or ice cream scoop to go through the boards.

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BlakesCakes Posted 6 Apr 2012 , 2:43am
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No reason not to use straws for support on this cake. They're easier to cut, don't slide the same way dowels can, you need fewer of them, and they're extremely sturdy.

I never use dowels anymore, except for the central dowels.

If the cake will be traveling a distance, spiking it to the board is a good idea. I use 2 long dowels, as the cake & boards can't possibly rotate on 2 spikes like they can with one.

If it's staying in your home for the shower, no need to spike it.


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annakat444 Posted 6 Apr 2012 , 3:42am
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Thank you all for your responses! I'm confused though with the conflicting replies - is it really just a matter of personal preference? Straws for each layer without a central dowel vs. wooden dowels and a central dowel! Besides, if there's a board under each layer, how am I supposed to get the central dowel through the boards? I'm just confused about logistics and hate to experiment with this cake if I don't have to!

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debidehm Posted 6 Apr 2012 , 3:49am
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The center dowel is used when the cake is going to travel all ready stacked. You wouldn't really need it if you're going to stack at the location. If you're using actual wood bases for each tier, obviously you won't be able to pound a center dowel through those.

Straws are fine for supporting the tiers, unless you prefer is a personal preference. I've used both, but prefer straws because they're so much easier to cut!

If you plan on using actual wood as the base under each tier, you might want to stack on location if possible...less chance to have the cake shift during delivery (with no center dowel).

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annakat444 Posted 6 Apr 2012 , 4:00am
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Yes, the cake will be traveling about 10 minutes away and I'm using cardboard boards under each tier (except bottom tier will have one of those really thick sturdy boards). I want to use the straws if I can get away with it since that's what I'm familiar with.

The cake is all rosettes (i.e. very quick and easy). Should I assemble the cake on-site and just take a bag of icing for touch-up? I'm one of the hostesses, so I have to get there really early anyway.

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BlakesCakes Posted 6 Apr 2012 , 4:15am
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Everyone has their own preferences. You need to do what makes you the most comfortable.

I would personally stack using straws, finish decorating at home--I hate an audience, and take a bag for touch ups. With such a short drive, I'd probably just put in one spike and drive carefully.

You need to use a hammer to get the dowel thru all of the tiers.

I also strongly suggest putting the bottom tier on it's own board the same size--12"--so that it's easier to move around and ice. You can adhere it to the decorative board with some icing, double sided tape, glue dots, etc.


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debidehm Posted 6 Apr 2012 , 6:21am
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The straws will be fine. If you decide to deliver all ready stacked, I highly recommend you have a "spotter" with you...someone who can keep an eye on it for you. If you don't have someone to help you deliver, and you don't mind the possibility of people watching you, you might want to assemble at the location. I've personally done that when I have to deliver alone...I don't mind people watching me. I just have as much of it decorated as possible, and bring anything else I might need to finish up the cake. You'll want to bring your cake "first aide kit" either way in case you need to touch anything up.

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Apti Posted 6 Apr 2012 , 6:40am
post #10 of 10

Here is a superb video that answers most or all of your questions:

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