December 6, 2011

How to Assemble a tiered cake

Cake stacking can be pretty scary. So I have decided to share with you what works for me! All you really need is; the right tools and some guts! :)

Cake stacking-12

I will show you step by step how I stacked this three tier cake I made for my brothers Valedictory dinner.

Step 1: Prepare all the tools you will need.

Cake stacking-2

This will include:
- Wooden dowels - you can buy these at cake stores, they are usually only 30 cm long (see pic) or you can also go to Bunnings and get their wooden dowels approx 5-8 mm in diameter, these are like 1 m long. Note - you will need 1 longer central dowel to go through the total height of the cake.
- Wood cutters (or something similar to cleanly cut the dowels)
- Buttercream/royal icing
- spatula (always handy)
- mallet (optional)

Step 2: Have your cake tiers prepared and ready to stack.

Cake stacking-1

It is up to you how you want to finish/decorate your cake i.e. buttercream or fondant etc (possiblities are endless), but make sure that each tier except the bottom is sitting on a foam or cardboard cake board. The bottom tier should be placed on a sturdy wooden cake board or surface that wont bend and will take the total weight of the finished cake. Usually this can be achieved by thicker cake boards not necessarily larger.

Step 3: Figuring out how many dowels to use per tier
I like using odd numbers. So for my 10 inch round cake I have got 5 dowels, the 8 inch round I have 3 dowels and obviously there are no dowels in the top tier. I have a central dowel through all the tiers to stop the tiers from sliding.

Honestly, there isnt really a science to how many dowels to use per tier. But I have found that these numbers work and if you are worried about the structural integrity you can always shove a few more dowels in there for piece of mind. The only thing to remember and keep in mind is that no matter how many dowels you use, just make sure that they are even spread so that the load is evenly distributed. Also, I'm being 'Captain Obvious' here but, the lower and larger tiers will need more dowels than the tiers above as it is supporting the weight of those above, just needed to say that. Oh and do not go crazy and put dowels too close to the edge or outside of where the tier on top as 1. it will show when you stack them and 2. its redundant as it isnt supporting anything.

Step 4: Measuring out the dowels
You will need to do this separately for each tier.

Cake stacking-3

It is important that the middle of the tier will be the main reference point of the height at which you want your tier to be. Therefore, you will need to stick a dowel into the middle of the tier and mark the height as shown below.

Cake stacking-4

Next you will remove the dowel and cut where the line is. Using this cut dowel as your reference, mark the rest of the dowels out the same size. Note always use the original cut dowel to measure and cut the other dowels, this will help you maintain consistency.

Cake stacking-5

When you have finished cutting the desired amount of dowels line them up just to check that they are all the same size. Trust me you do not want to screw this part up or your cake will be the Leaning Tower of Pisa..... bad memories... lol

Cake stacking-6

Step 5: Insert all the dowels in their places and get ready to stack them on top of each other.

Cake stacking-7

I have obviously left the middle out as this will be where the central dowel goes through. If you are not using a central dowel (not necessary for say 2 tiered cakes) then you need to push a cut dowel through there.

Step 6: Spread some buttercream or royal icing on the tier and stack the tier above ontop with the help of a spatula.

Cake stacking-8

Cake stacking-9

Step 7: Using your longer dowel push through the middle of the stack, if it is too hard to push down you can lightly and carefully hammer it down with a mallet or twist the dowel carefully to puncture through the cake board.

Cake stacking-10

Note: The longer dowels that can be purchased from Bunnings have flat ends unlike the shorter cake dowels. You need this long dowel to have a pointed end so that you can push through the cake tiers and their boards easily. To do this just sharpen the end of the dowel using a pencil sharpener, until you get the end like the cake dowel.

Mark this central dowel as you did with the others, cut it and reinsert the dowel.

Step 8. Voila!! You have your stacked cake!

Cake stacking-14

Cake stacking-13

Now its your turn! :) Good luck and would love to hear how you guys go!



  1. I would have really loved to see how u 'stacked' the cakes. Meaning did u pick the cakes up and put them on top of eachother?? I have ordered n seen many many tiered cakes but not once have a seen dowels in them.

    1. To stack the cakes, you generally have to lift up the cake by picking it up to place it on top of one another. As for not having seen dowels in the cake, this is quite a common practice so I'm not too sure why. The reason why you need dowels is to support the weight of the cakes above, so if they are small cakes they generally dont need dowels e.g. like a 2 tiered cake or small sized cakes. Alternatively, it also depends on the type of cake that you are stacking, e.g. fruit cake wont need dowel support because it is quite solid and compact but for lighter fluffier cakes like the ones I make you need these supports.

  2. I will be making a two tier cake with fondant, but i have been searching to see if a cardboard is necessary to stack them up together, i don't want the top cake to fall or anything! the bottom cake tier is 10" and the other top one is 8"... so would i need to leave a cardboar or just place it ona cardboard for decorating and then pick up and place without a cardboard???

    1. Hi there,

      You will need a cake board on the base between each tier or your dowels will go straight through each tier.

      Hope that helps

  3. i have been trying to decide if i should keep the tiers of cakes on their cake board or if i should stack them without. Also how would i prevent icing from sticking to the bottom of the upper tiers? Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi A.Walker,
      Yes you need to keep the cakes on their cake board - as per above the dowels would go straight through the tiers if it were too heavy and there was no board in between. Unfortunately you cannot prevent the icing from sticking to the bottom of the upper tiers and you wouldn't want it to not stick as your cake might slide if you don't have a central dowel.

  4. I will be making a two tiered cake for the first time tomorrow! I will be using fat boba straws (I saw a video on this not too long ago and it seemed very simple just as you described!). I do have a question though...for the filling I want to put cream cheese frosting and fresh strawberries. Is it common/ok to put fresh fruit in a tiered cake? Or will this mess up the structure and alignment of the cake? Please let me know! Thanks!

    1. Hi There!
      To answer your question, I have used cream cheese and fresh fruit to fill my cakes. You just need to be weary that the cream cheese frosting isnt too runny. Also chop the fruit up into small bits to prevent the fruit from sliding against each other, which is what would happen if you have big slices. Also depending on how high the cake will be stacked up you may need to use a buttercream border along the edge of the cake so that it acts as a dam to keep all your filling between each cake inside.
      Hope this helps! Good Luck!!

  5. Hi i have opted to make my daughters christening cake myself to cut costs. i am going to have an 8inch and a 10inch cake. how do i hide the cardboard part between the two layers? and also what size board would i need? as i am having block letters on the cake board so not sure what size i should get? any help would be appreciated :) thanks x

  6. Hi Kirsty,
    In order to hide the board between the tiers, you will need to use a board to fits the cake that is sitting on it exactly. So in this case you will need to use an 8 inch round board. I usually recommend up to 2 inches or more wider than the bottom cake tier for the board that the cake will sit on. So a 12 inch or larger should be fine but depending on how big your block letters will be, you may need to go bigger? (e.g. if you block letters are taller than 2 inches in height then you will need a bigger board than 12 inches).
    Hope this helps!

  7. Hi I was planning on making a 3 tiered cake with each tier made up of 3 cakes, with cream between the cakes will not be iced on the outside (so you can see the cake/cream). I have two questions,1 do you have any clues as how to hide the cake board in this situation? and 2 I was planning on making a gluten free orange and poppyseed cake which is more and moist, do you think this will affect the cake board??
    Thank you so much

    1. Hi there,
      In terms of covering the board maybe try using a board that is slightly smaller than each of the cake tiers itself? Otherwise maybe a ribbon around the board as part of the decoration?
      For the second question, I dont think it will affect the board, but having said that it does depend what type of board you are using e.g. cardboard - but that usually has a silver film over it to stop the moisture from soaking through or masonite board - which definately will be ok.
      Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes! x

  8. hi there. im making a 3 tiered cake- 12, 10, 8 inch cakes, 4 inch thichness each. does my bottom tier (the 12 inch) need to sit on a bigger cake drum (which I dont have) or can I use my 12 inch cake drum instead? then I will put the finished tiered cake on a wooden round that is slightly bigger? you think that will work? it's my first time to make and decorate a tiered cake and I already have my 12 inch cake baked. thanks a lot for people like you who share what they know with the rest of us :)


Please leave a message, I'd love to hear from you! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...