In this post, I am going to share my step by step guide of assembling tiered cakes, both with pillars and without pillars.
How to Make Tiered Cakes
Though it looks like a matter of just stacking them on top of one another, tiered cakes need to be internally structured so that they stand stable and the bottom tiers do not get compressed by the weight of the top tiers.
Make a Tiered Cake - How to stack cakes without pillars
Tiered cakes without pillars are basically cakes that are stacked directly on top of one another like this one:
How to Make a Tiered Cake - Tiered cake stacked without pillars
To make a tiered cake and assemble it without pillars, you will need:
a base cake board
cardboard cake circles for each of the cake tiers
dowel rods and/or bubble tea straws
Your base cake board should be strong enough to hold all the tiers and should be at least a few inches larger than the base cake diameter.
Place your lowest tier cake on the base cake board. Place the rest of the other tier cakes on their respective cake boards/cardboard circles. Remember that for stacked cakes, the cake boards for all tiers (except base tier)has to be of the same diameter as the cake it is going to hold.
Next, take one dowel rod or straw and poke it into the base cake at the cake’s highest point. Press the rod/straw down until it touches the cake board. Mark the rod/straw to the height of the cake.
Remove the rod/straw and cut it where you marked earlier. Take a few other rods/straws (exact number you will be using for the base cake) and cut to the same length as the first one. Poke the cut dowel rods into the base cake, with a gap of 2 to 3 inches apart, but within the diameter of the next tier cake.
Repeat the process for all tiers except for the topmost tier. Once you have done that, you can start stacking up the cakes on one another. As you stack the cakes, secure them to the lower tier with a thin layer of royal icing.
Also, as an additional measure to prevent the cakes from sliding off during transportation, take a long dowel rod, sharpen one end of it to look like a pencil and poke it right through the center of all tiers until it touches the bottom cake board. If you wish to do this, you have to make sure your cake boards for the 2nd lowest tier on wards are thin enough to poke the sharpened dowel rod through, which is why I recommended the use cardboard cake circles. Also, you should only poke through the topmost tier if you intend to cover the top with any decoration that will not show the dowel rod hole. If the top of the cake is intended to be left plain, cut the dowel rod so that the length stops a few inches short of the height of the whole stacked cake. Poke it through the center of second tier until it reaches the base cake board. At this point, you should be able to see a bit of the dowel rod poking out from the top of the stacked cake. Take the topmost tier and carefully place it on the rest of the stacked cake, making sure the dowel rod that is protruding out goes through the cake from the bottom through the center of the cake board.
Here are some videos showing how to make a tiered cake. Note how you should avoid a dowel rod or straw in the center of the cake if you intend to poke a final long dowel through the center of your stacked cakes:
How to Make a Tiered Cake - And here is another video, showing in detail how to safely lift your fondant covered cakes when stacking them to form tiered cakes.
Make a Tiered Cake - How to stack cakes with pillars
Tiered cakes with pillars are basically cakes that are stacked on top of one another on pillars such that that there is visible gap between each tier like this cake:
How to Make a Tiered Cake - Tiered cake stacked on pillars
Typically, to assemble a pillared cake, you will need:
a base cake board
cake separator plates for each of cake tiers (except for the lowest tier); and
When purchasing the plates and pillars, make sure the pillars can fit securely into the knobs at the bottom of the separator plates or else the cake structure will not be stable. If you are not familiar with cake separator plates and pillars, please ask the store you are buying them from to help you choose the correct plates and pillars. Not all pillars can fit into all separator plates and some pillars cannot be poked directly into cakes, requiring one plate at the top and one at the bottom.
Your base cake board should also be strong enough to hold all the tiers and should be at least a few inches larger than the base cake diameter. Place your base cake (lowest tier) on the largest cake board. Place the rest of the top tier cakes on their respective cake separator plates. The separator plates can be on the same diameter of the cake it is going to hold or can be slightly larger. If you intend to pipe a large border, it is necessary to have a separator plate that is at least half inch larger than the cake diameter.
There are many types of pillars available to make tiered cakes. The most common ones are the long and thin pillars. To assemble the cake, start with the base cake.
Place your separator plate of the next tier on the base cake and gently press it down to mark the place for the pillars. (Make sure you don’t exert too much pressure or you will spoil the icing on your cake.
Remove the separator plate and put it aside. On the base cake where you have marked for pillars, poke each pillar until you can feel them touching the cake board.
Once all the pillars are securely poked into the cake, stacked the next tier on the pillars.
Repeat the process until all cake tiers are securely stacked on the pillars.
Here is a video on how to make a tiered cake using pillars
That's it on how to assemble tiered cakes. Hope you find this sharing useful for your tiered cake projects.
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