Do you need to use cake boards between tiers?
In short, yes. If you plan on stacking any heavy cake or cake larger than 6” in diameter then yes you should use cake boards in between tiers. Even with smaller cakes, we would definitely recommend using cake boards, as you don’t want your cake to sink or be wonky.
You don’t necessarily have to use a thick standard cake drum. Cake boards/cards are lighter and thinner than a cake drum but are still strong enough to hold a cake without bending.
Using cake cards to stack a cake
Each tier should be on a cake card (the same size as that tier).
Make sure all tiers are level before stacking – use a spirit level for best results.
Cover the cake cards that the tiers are on, so they aren’t visible once stacked.
Always secure your tiers to cake cards and to the next tier with buttercream/royal icing.
Take a cake card the same size as the next tier, place it on the top of the cake where the tier is going to sit. Use a knife to gently draw around the cake card for accuracy.
Using dowels in a tiered cake
Always clean and dry your dowels before use.
Pop one dowel in the cake and mark exactly where the top of the cake is. Then use that to cut others to size.
A chilled cake is easier to dowel as it is firmer.
If using wooden dowels, cut them away from the cake so the sawdust doesn’t fall on the cake.
Always cut dowels with a straight top to ensure the tiers stay level.
We recommend 1 dowel for every 2” of cake. Eg. 12” cake = 6 dowels.
Place the dowels in a circle slightly smaller (around an inch) than the outline of the next tier.
Push the dowels down slightly, stand back to see if they are straight before pushing them all the way down to the cake board.
More tips for creating a tiered cake
Use buttercream, icing, ribbons, or decorations to cover the seams of each tier.
Decorate your cake once it’s stacked. Stack when it has buttercream/sugarpaste covering only to avoid movement of decorations.
If you plan on stacking 3+ tiers or have tall tiers, you may want to unleash your DIY skills and add some central dowels. So, the idea of central dowelling is having one dowel running through the whole cake to ensure it doesn’t topple. What you would have to do is drill a hole through the center of each cake card, just a little bigger than your dowel. Then slot one long dowel through the whole cake to secure the tiers.
Here at The Vanilla Valley we stock a wide range of dowels – poly, easy cut, bamboo, and wooden dowels. We also stock spiked pillars, an alternative to dowels with stronger support.
Check out our dowels listings for more details, we have video tutorials from suppliers to giving you a step-by-step guide on how to dowel a cake.