So you’ve already perfected your recipe for baking the perfect birthday or wedding cake. You’ve already finished filling and frosting it, and now you’re on the last part of the journey: assembling and decorating the cake. Don’t be misled by how pretty those cakes look like! They can be quite heavy, which is why ensuring that they are stable in their positions during assembly is extremely important, so that the cakes won’t sink or collapse into each other.
Every tier needs some form of structural support, except for the top tier. And you might get scared and intimidated by the idea of assembling a towering group of tiered cakes. Good thing there are tried-and-tested methods to put together and stabilize the cake. During the process of cake construction, you don’t get to literally stack the cakes on top of each other; instead, there’s space in between each tier where you use cake boards, dowel rods, and pillars that will bear the weight of each tiered cake.
Here are the most common ways to stabilize a tiered cake:
- Cake Stand – The easiest and most basic form of cake construction, a cake stand allows you to showcase and put your cake in the spotlight. The cakes are simply placed on cake stands. Make sure to choose a cake stand that is roughly the same size or is bigger than the bottom tier of your cake.
- Dowel Rod – Dowel rods can be either made of wood or plastic straws. Wooden dowels are used because their ends can be sharpened. Plastic dowels, on the other hand, have a wider diameter and offer greater support; as such, a lesser number of dowels need to be used when using plastic. You need to choose dowels that are firm enough to be able to stand the weight of each cake. Once the bottom tier has been frosted, gently place a cake board that has the same size of the next tier, and place it at the center of the base cake in order to create a small impression in the icing. Determine from the outline where you will be placing the dowels. Make sure that each dowel rod is spaced out evenly, so that the cake’s weight is evenly distributed across all the dowels. If you will not be using any cake boards or pillars, the cake needs to be further stabilized by placing a center dowel rod to prevent the cake from shifting. To begin, dowel the cake using one of the dowel rods. Mark the place where the top edge of the cake meets the dowel. Pull the dowel out of the cake and cut off the mark you made. Using the first dowel as a guide, cut out all the other dowels that are going to be used, making sure they are all of the same length. Place all of the dowels all the way down the cake. Repeat the whole process for each cake tier except for the top one. Put the cakes on top of each other, using the dowels as a base.
- Center Column – As the name implies, a center column is used to stabilize the whole cake’s construction. Each tiered cake is placed on cake boards that have pre-cut holes in the center. A cake corer is then used in the lower tiered cakes, to push the center of the cake right down to the bottom. This is where the column is to be placed.
- Push-in Pillar – For this type of cake construction, you will need a separator plate for each cake tier, and instead of dowel rods, you will be using exposed pillars that are pushed in to the cake.
- Pillar and Stack Combination – To construct the cake using this method, you will be using a combination of dowel rods, pillars, cake boards, and plate separators.
Essential Tips for a Tiered Cake Construction
- Make sure that the cakes are always chilled, as dowel rods go easily into the cake if they have been chilled.
- If constructing a tall cake, use a center dowel to keep the cake in place.
- Stacking and assembling the cake on site is always the better option, to prevent any risk that might happen while the cake is being transported.
- Make allowance for the cake’s transport and the actual cake-cutting, so that by the time the cake is ready to be cut and eaten, it has reached room temperature.
- Always bring extra icing and decorations to repair any problems that might happen during the cake’s transport and assembly.