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Episode 5: Doweling and Stacking Multi-Tiered Cakes

Sarah Breckenridge; videography by Gary Junken and Cari Delahanty; edited by Cari Delahanty
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When you’re making a wedding cake or any kind of multi-tiered cake, supporting each tier with dowels is absolutely essential-it gives the cake the structure it needs to survive a move or even just a long standing period. This video demonstrates how to add the dowels and stack the tiers, to build a beautiful multi-tiered cake.

More Episodes in this Series
Episode 1: Leveling and Splitting Layer Cakes   Episode 2: Crumb Coat for Fondant Cakes   Episode 3: Buttercream Effects
Episode 1: Leveling and Splitting Layer Cakes
  Episode 2: Crumb Coat for Fondant Cakes   Episode 3: Buttercream Effects
Episode 4: Fondant-Coated Cake   Episode 5: Doweling and Stacking Multi-Tiered Cakes   Episode 6: Fruit Leather Decorations
Episode 4: Fondant-Coated Cake   Episode 5: Doweling and Stacking Multi-Tiered Cakes   Episode 6: Fruit Leather Decorations
Episode 1: Leveling and Splitting Layer Cakes   Back to Series Intro   Erin Gardner
Episode 7: Simple Fondant Shapes   Episode 8: Stamping   Back to Series Intro
Great Cake Decorating by Erin Gardner

The thing we can’t stress enough when you’re making a tiered cake is to use dowels for stacking them! Some blogs or articles suggest using straws or toothpicks or chopsticks, but they just don’t support the weight of the cake the way dowels do.

Wooden dowels are very easy to find at hardware stores or cake decorating supply stores, and they come in many different sizes. For the most common cake sizes-anything from 6 inches to 12 inches in diameter, a 1/4 inch dowel should provide enough support.  

To figure out how long your dowels should be, insert one into the center of  your cake, and mark it right where it starts to stick out of the cake. Remove it and cut all your dowels for that tier.

To figure out how many dowels you need-a good rule of thumb is to work down the cake layers in odd numbers. So for instance I have this three-tier cake with 6, 8- and 10-inch tiers. So I’ll use 3 dowels supporting the 6-inch tier and 5 dowels to support the 8-inch tier.

And when placing your dowels, make sure the dowels in one tier are offset from the tier above them (not stacked directly above each other).

When you place the dowels into the bottom tier, you want to make sure that they’re all within the confines of the tier that will sit on top-a good way to do that is to put the cake pan from that next tier on top of the bottom tier and lightly outline it with a knife.

Now in go the dowels, then put a little buttercream over the area with the dowels, so the cardboard base of the next tier has something to grip.

Then center the next tier over the buttercream.

And just repeat the same process for each tier: measure and trim the dowels, mark where they should go (remembering to keep them offset from the dowels below), and press them into the cake.

When your cake is fully assembled, remember it’s not totally stable until the buttercream between the layers is set. So carefully return the cake to the refrigerator, and let it set for at least an hour before you do any serious moving of the cake.


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