I'm not much of a cake maker - I just make the odd cake here and there for friends and family. Earlier this year I made my first wedding cake for my dad - I did as much research as I could, I'm quite happy with how to support the tiers (I've used dowel rods and boards) but I never read anything on how to physically stack the cake. When I did my dads I foolishly thought (especially as it was a very small cake) that I could just pick up the tiers and place them on the next. Well of course that mishaped the fondant and ruined the cake with dents and bumps.
This week I've been making a larger 4 tier cake for my friends wedding, which I set up this evening. So I decided against the picking up method (which would have been impossible anyway as it was HUGE) and instead opted for using one of those cake lifter things. I struggled getting it under the cake to begin with and ruined a bit of the fondant in the process, but found it even harder to place (especially on the very heavy tiers) and found that when I removed the lifter it pulled the fondant away from the bottom of the cake.
So how do you guys physically stack a cake? Is there something obvious I'm missing? Or should I always expect some damage and have to cover it with piping/ribbon?
Sorry if this seems like an obvious technique that I'm missing, but I really am new to this so can only learn by googling and asking questions!
Thanks so much.
I use a large, angled spatula, at the BACK of the cake. The same method as you used with the cake lifter, but using a spatula at the back means you can put your fingers at the front for extra support/security and get the front edge into place. There is minimal or no damage to the fondant since when you get your cake placed where it needs to be on the front edge, you can lower the cake and wiggle the spatula out as you lower, so you only have about 1/4" of the spatula left to whip out from under the cake as it nearly nearly touches the cake below it.
AAnd I try to let my fondant tiers set up a while before I more them so that the fondant is not so soft. You're less likely to leave fingerprints in firm fondant!
But do manipulate the cake from the back, as Dayti says, you can cover problems more easily this way. Your border or ribbon can cover a little damage to the base of the tier if necessary.