How to Make Tiered Cakes - Tools and Techniques

Tiered cakes refers to cakes that are made up of more than 1 tier of cake. Typically, these cakes are made by stacking cakes of different sizes on top of each other, either with pillars or without pillars.

Types of tiered cakesTiered Cakes

Stacked cakes may look like easy to assemble, I mean most people would think its all about stacking the different layers of cakes together. But do you know that stacked cakes need internal support to stand firm? And that pillared cakes need to be built with stability?

That is basically my topic of sharing in this page, i.e. how to make stable and firm, tall cakes.

Types of Tiered Cakes

There are basically 2 types of tiered cakes. One with pillars and the other without pillars. And then there is another type which is a combination of direct stacking and stacking with pillars.

This cake is stacked without pillars. 

A stacked cakeStacked cake without pillars

And this one is with pillars:

Here is a cake that is a combination of both the types above. The second tier is stacked directly on the 4th tier, similarly, the first tier is stacked on the second tier. The second and third tier, on the other hand are stacked using pillars.

A tiered cake with a combination of pillars and direct stackingA tiered cake with a combination of pillars and direct stacking

Tools you need to make tiered cakes

The following tools and supplies are a must for making tall, stable cakes:

Dowel rods or bubble tea straws

  • Dowel rods are long and thin wooden rods and are widely available in craft and baking specialty shops. Just make sure that the rods you buy are food safe. I always purchase mine from cake decorating shops and particularly prefer Wilton brand. You can purchase these from the links I provided on the right of this page. There are also plastic cake rods, and they function in the same way as the wooden rods. A great and cheaper alternative to these rods are bubble tea straws. These are the fat straws used for bubble tea and come in a variety of colors. These straws are much easier to cut and despite being straws, are very sturdy and provide good support for stacked cakes.

Cake boards

  • For stacked cakes, you will need a base cake board that is a few inches larger than the lowest tier cake. You will also need one cake board for each of the other cakes that are to be stacked on one another. For these cakes, the boards should be of same diameter as the cake that it is meant to hold. While you should get a thick cake board as the base board, it is best to use cardboards to hold the rest of the cakes. This is for ease of poking a dowel rod through in the middle of the stacked cakes to hold them from sliding off during transportation.
  • For pillared cakes, you will also need a base cake board and this is similar to the stacked cakes. As for the other tiers, however, I would suggest that you use the separator plates. Separator plates are a must for tiered cakes which use pillars. These plates have special knobs at the bottom where you can secure the pillars into. Separator plates can be slightly larger in diameter than the cake it is holding or be of exactly same diameter as the cake, depending on your cake design.

Pillars and Separator Plates

  • There are many different types of cake pillars available in the market. They come in different shapes and colors and are used to make tall tiered cakes. Each tier would typically require 4 pillars, so if you are making a 3 tiered cake, then you will need 2 sets of such pillars.Separator plates, on the other hand, serve the same purpose as cake boards, but these plates come with special knobs underneath (normally 4 knobs to hold 4 pillars)which helps secure the cake pillars, resulting in a very stable cake support structure.

Now that you know the tools required for making tall, stable cakes, learn how to use them to stack cakes correctly. Click here for step by step instructions on how to assemble such cakes.

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How to Make Tiered Cakes - Tools and Techniques

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