I've been enjoying CC for years but finally decided to join due to a very happy event (my oldest daughter's marriage) coupled with a somewhat nerve-wracking one (I've been a hobby baker for years but have never done a tiered cake).
My not-even-close-to-a-bridezilla-daughter picked out a simple but beautiful cake--6 tiers, 3 of cake with luscious swirls of chocolate frosting and 3 with the sides covered in red flowers (original had geraniums, I'm using silk carnations). The wedding is just 9 days away, and I don't have a good head count (seems that people don't know what rsvp means anymore!). I'm debating between fewer tiers overall (4 instead of 6) and the original 6-tier size but using 4 cake dummies instead of 3. The cake will be placed on an inverted silver vanity-type tray with a cut-work design. The topper is a silver mirror silhouette.
What would be the best way to stack/dowel these cakes? I found 5" bamboo sticks (for lollipops, I think) about 1/4" diameter, and thought that maybe these would work well since they're strong and wouldn't need cutting. Bottom tier will certainly be a flower-covered dummy, and I'm thinking that the very top tier will likely be a frosted dummy for topper stability (the posts are rather thin, and might not hold as well in cake). On a good note, I will be making this cake in a commercial church kitchen, so there won't be any transport of the cake to a different location.
Thanks for any input and advice--I've learned so many helpful things from all you incredible bakers/decorators that I know if there's a best way to do this you will help me through it!
Stacking and doweling are two different functions.
A center dowel is one long stick that keeps all layers from sliding/ slipping. You can buy them at Home Depot, sharpen one end and sand lightly to remove any grime. This you insert from the center top all the way through all layers.
The individual layer supports are to keep each layer from crushing the one underneath. So you have 4-5" tall supports---- dowel sticks or bubble tea straws. The number of these supports vary in each layer. Maybe 4 in a 6" layer, and 10 to 12 in a 14" layer. I would even stick 6" long ones into the real layers to secure it to the foam dummy under it. If you are stacking (from top down) cake A , dummy B , cake C, dummy D, cake E, cake drum F, I would-
place cake E on cake drum F. Stick through some longer skewers that go through both E and F. Then insert a few support dowels to support D above.
Place D dummy and again use long skewers to go through D and into E.
Place cake C and skewer C through to dummy D below and again add supports for B going on top.
Place dummy B, skewer through B to C dummy
Place cake A and skewer to dummy B to secure
Now insert sharpened dowel from top through all layers to cake drum.
"Skewers" can be 6" bamboo thin sticks used for the grill. It would go through 4" of cake and into the base below about 2". To keep cake from squishing, add better weight bearing supports of fatter dowels or bubble tea straws.
i would not get all involved in head count and servings at this late date -- usually extra cake is not a burden -- just make what you feel will be enough -- if you sent out 150 invites that represents approx 300 peeps plus kids say tack on 60 more for possible kidlettes then cut that (360) in half 180 servings give or take?
just plug in your numbers running off invites -- add a few for blanket invites to work or church and subtract some if most family is out of town --
i'm a little concerned about your time line -- not having to deliver is great -- but not allowing enough time and getting caught in a radiating irreversible time crunch into a brick wall is a common rookie mistake --
so i'm not trying to stress you -- i'm saying pad your time line by double -- start way earlier -- determine a longer hold time if it becomes necessary -- nobody ever said 'oh i had so much extra time we went sight seeing before the wedding' especially for mob --
we be here for you -- keep us posted and pictured -- best to you
* bring boxes to handle any leftovers
in fact are you or someone who is helping you very familiar with this kitchen -- most commercial kitchens suck even at the best establishments -- just a crazy fact of life -- of course there are exceptions to this and i hope yours is it --
but if it was me i'd be baking and stashing those cake babies in the freezer Now -- won't hurt a thing unless the cake recipe is with butter because butter cakes need a little heat to get restored to out of oven texture after having been chilled -- so if you are doing a special scratch cake -- baking last minute is best --
*even and especially at the best establishments -- the oven is the first to go and even if it works how does it bake cake --
I really beg to differ w/johnson6ofus. That is way too many supports which will result in a cake serving full of holes :(
Starting from the bottom working up: The base dummy cake needs no supports. It will support all of the above tiers just by the nature of the styro structure. The cake that goes on top of it will need maybe 5or6 at the very most depending on its size and the size of the other tiers on top of it. These supports go in a circle 1" smaller than the tier above. Example: a 9" cake going on top of a 12" mark a 8" circle on top of the 12" and place the supports evenly around that circle. Being that it is a 9" cake only 4 (5 at the very most) supports are needed even if there will be 2 more tiers above it. The main thing w/supports is to insert one into the cake and mark where it meets the top of the cake then cut all the others being used in that tier exactly the same length. Repeat this with each tier that needs supports. that is what is going to prevent the tiers from 'squishing' the others.
There is NO need for a center dowel at all in this case. You are not transporting the cake to another venue. There is no need for supports in the top tier (6"). It will not be holding any weight. Using skewers long enough to go thru a tier into a dummy is unnecessary - again because you are not transporting this cake. It would only make it difficult to take it apart to cut the cake for serving.
As usual k8 and I tend to agree (mostly - LOL).
lynne, > high five < great minds and all that (usually) hahahaha
Thanks everyone! I appreciate all the input. I'm feeling much more confident in trusting my instinct now! The cake is but a simple one in design, but if I get any good pictures I'll try to post them. (Total newbie here--I accidentally replied to a post instead of putting it in the thread, which was my intent. Sorry 'bout that K8!) Y'all are great!