My First Post Here.hoping To Get Help From The Experts

Decorating By Lazybis Updated 25 Aug 2015 , 12:10am by imagenthatnj

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Lazybis Posted 27 Jul 2015 , 12:30pm
post #1 of 11


im not a professional baker and this is the first time I'm going to make a tiered cake for my daughter's birthday. 

By researching on the Internet and with friends' help, I have bought bubble tea straws to be used as dowels. My cake will have two tiers of 10" & 8". They will be covered in fondant and will have a cake board of 3mm in between. Since I need to transport the cake to the party venue, I want to use a centre dowel to prevent the cake from sliding. 

i didn't want to overspend so I thought bubble tea straws would be good enough as they won't go wasted afterwards. 

Now the question is how do I use a bubble tea straw as a centre dowel and pierce it down a cake board and the cake?😯

I do have thin wooden skewers at home. Can I use one of those as a centre dowel and the straws as other dowels? I'm in a dilemma and kind of freaking out now. I don't want to have a disaster 😞

looking forward to some help from all of you cake experts 😘

thanks in advance!

10 replies
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Snowflakebunny23 Posted 27 Jul 2015 , 1:33pm
post #2 of 11

Simple don't!  If you are using a centre dowel, you need something longer than bubble tea straws which will go right through both cakes and into the base board.  I think most use a sharpened wooden dowel rod?  It has to be pretty tough to perforate the cardboard.  In honesty, I have never actually done it.  I don't use a centre dowel and have transported 3/4-tier cakes many times with no problem.  If you only have a 10" and 8", I think a centre dowel is probably a bit overkill and using your bubble tea straws will be fine by themselves.

Good luck :-)

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ssmore Posted 27 Jul 2015 , 1:46pm
post #3 of 11

you are on the right track, use straws for base and thin skewer for center . that is what i use always, no issues at all, good luck.

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sugarmagiccakes Posted 27 Jul 2015 , 2:30pm
post #4 of 11

I wouldnt think you"ll need a centre dowel for a 2 tier cake either, ive never centre dowelled and my cakes have been fine, even up to 4 tiers.....I place dabs of royal icing between my stacked cakes to keep them secure. I also use the straws for dowelling.....But, if you feel you need a centre dowel put one in! :-)

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Shasha2727 Posted 27 Jul 2015 , 2:44pm
post #5 of 11

Hi Laz- Your instincts are on track. I use bubble tea straws for support between up to 3 tiers of average cake. Pound cakes, mud cakes or tiers with many filled layers are heavier, and with them I just use more straws. For BIG cakes like weddings, I use adjustable cake jacks from my cake supply, or other supports, and/or move the cake unassembled & set the tiers on site. I generally use 3-5 straws between bottom (12" or less) and 2nd tier. Insert one straw through the iced cake to get the proper length and mark, then pull up slightly and cut so straw top will be flush or just a wee tad taller than the finished cake. Using the remaining portion of the straw as a guide, cut the same amount off the other straws and insert them perpendicular to the bottom board. If they go is at an angle, they will not support the weight, so be sure they are straight up. Set your board on top of the set straws, press down gently, and check with a level if possible.

Although you might get by without one, you will benefit from using a sharpened (usually a pencil sharpener will suffice) wooden dowel to secure your tiers for transport. You can buy cake boards with a perforation at the center, or simply punch the hole thru yourself. Measure from widest points on board to mark center and use the dowel to push thru before putting it on the cake. Enlarging the hole a bit makes finding it easier and keeps you from exerting pressure onto the bottom cake, causing unsightly filling bulge. Then measure the overall height of both tiers plus the cake boards and cut the sharpened dowel an inch or so shorter. Push it thru dead center of top tier, insuring it is going in straight. Then using another small piece of dowel, counter sink the pointed dowel into the cake board with a few taps from a mallet or small hammer, assuming you're using cardboard beneath your cake. Patch or camouflage any holes in your top tier and you're good to go.

We are in Orlando, Florida and use primarily CCBC with fondant accents (since most people we encounter don't eat much if any fondant, even homemade tastier fondant).  Transport is definitely the most stressful part of the whole affair to us, tho fondant covered cakes can be less fragile. In heat, there's the whole cake melting factor, the crazy tourist sightseers that stop without warning, as well as some bad roads, so there are a lot of forces working against your moving a delicate cake sculpture.  When driving, if your cake isn't on a perfectly level non skid surface, or if you encounter bumps or make abrupt movements, the tiers can shift really extremely super easily! The dowel gives you a much more secure cake to move and takes minutes to 'install', and reduces delivery worries. Plus, having sharpened dowels on hand can be very useful should vampires attack.

Good luck & best wishes with your cake!

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johnson6ofus Posted 27 Jul 2015 , 4:33pm
post #6 of 11

Dowel- is used to prevent sliding between tiers. Think of slamming on the brakes in the cake with a cake in back. It helps keep the top tier attached to the bottom tier. It is important to have a double cardboard base to "drive" the point into to hold it all together. Home depot sells them cheap, sand lightly to clean, sharpen with a pencil sharpener and insert as instructed above. These are available in many thicknesses.  This is cut to length from the top of the cake and through the bottom and even into the base. 

Bubble tea straws- used to support the weight of the cake above it. The lower (larger) cake doesn't support the smaller (upper) cake, it is supported by the straws. Think of the circus clown spinning the plates on a stick--- sort of like that. But in a cake, we use more than 1. Number depends on how large the cake above is.   This is cut to length for each individual lower tier to support the cake above it.

Both items are part of "put the cake together", but they serve different functions. They are not interchangeable functions. The confusion is that some bakers actually cut down dowels and use them in the same manner as bubble tea straws, so then the they refer to "doweling" (like tea straws are used) and then the "center dowel". Most have discovered that the straws work fine and are easier to use and cut. 

In a two tier cake, yes, some bakers consider the center dowel "optional" depending on type of cake, delivery distance, decorations, etc. In contrast,  the "doweling" or use of bubble tea straws in the lower tier to support the upper tier IS NOT optional. 

Check out youtube for some "stacking cake" videos. You should get the idea.

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Lazybis Posted 27 Jul 2015 , 5:36pm
post #7 of 11

Thank you lovelies for such detailed replies. I feel better :) I will most probably use bubble tea straws for "dowelling"(learnt a new term!) and use a wooden skewer as a centre dowel. I wIill be holding the cake in a cake box while my husband drives the car so hopefully will keep it straigh. *fingers crossed*.

need to confirm one more little detail now. I was planning to use a 3mm cake board between the tiers as I mentioned above and a cake drum for the base beneath the two tiers. Do I need to put a cake board over the cake drum as well? So I can fix my centre dowel(the wooden skewer) into it? I'm confused :(

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Brookebakescake Posted 27 Jul 2015 , 7:34pm
post #8 of 11

Yes, you'll use a cake board under the bottom tier as well.  Think of it as this: it's not that the cake board is "over" the cake drum, it's that the cake board is UNDER each tier, including the bottom.  If you don't have the bottom tier on a cake board, you won't be able to move it around as you're working on it.

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Dzrt-Bkr Posted 31 Jul 2015 , 1:36am
post #9 of 11

I would not hold the cake unless you know it will be absolutely level on your lap. No knees 'higher' then your "lap. I put a shelf liner on the floor in the back seat for this size. It will keep box from sliding and remain level.

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Shasha2727 Posted 24 Aug 2015 , 11:18pm
post #10 of 11

If it's not a BIG cake, and I'm using my small car to deliver it, I don't have a level area for a cake to sit on. So my helper usually lap carries the cake, and to prevent exactly what Dzrt-Bkr is referring to, I take pillows. I put the cake in a box if possible, and put pillows on helpers lap as needed to level the cake. Pillows also act as shock absorbers.  Deliveries make me nervous!

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