Tiered/Stacked Bundt Cakes - Using Dowels

Laurie

Have you ever stacked two or three bundt cakes? If so, any advice for me? I have 6 months to practice.

I bought a pack of thin wood/bamboo dowels at Michael's craft store. I got some cake circles, too. I have various sizes of bundt pans.

It will be a rustic themed wedding. The cake will be displayed on a tree slice & include some fresh flowers.

I'm not certain if the cakes will have frosting or if they will only be dusted with powdered sugar.

The wedding cake will have 2 or 3 tiers, but I will also make several single cakes that can be sliced for the guests. All of the cakes will be the same flavor : Almond.

Here are some inspiration photos.



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annie1992

Laurie, I've not stacked bundt cakes, but I have stacked a lot of other cakes. The skewers are fine for holding a couple of layers together, but if I go more than two regular layers, like a two tiered cake, I spring for the better/wider plastic dowels that are sold for that purpose, they can hold up the cake circle on the bottom of the next layer.

Really, though, if I were trying to stack bundt cakes, I'd find a plastic or even Styrofoam tube that would fit snugly down the middle hole in the cakes, then use smaller dowels to support the top layers. The cake circles would need to have a hole through the middle to allow the insertion of the middle tube, and the dowels in the cakes themselves would act as "arms" to hold the cake circle. Since your pictures show that the edges of the cakes are exposed, I'd make my cake circles smaller than the actual cake, but still big enough that they'll set on the supporting dowels.

Two bundt cakes stacked MIGHT be ok, but bundt cakes tend to be dense and heavy, a third one would crush the bottom layer, I'm afraid, without support.

Good luck! And remember, any "practice" cakes are always yummy for dessert, you get to eat all the mistakes, LOL.

Annie

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colleenoz

I have dowelled heavy cakes. I would recommend using dowels which are at least 1/4" in diameter and the exact depth of the cake so the top of the dowel is level with the top of the cake (and frosting, if it's frosted) when it is fully pushed into the cake. Depending on the size of the cake, you will need 4-6 dowels evenly spaced about halfway across the radius of the cake.

Place dowels in each layer (frosted if frosting), then carefully stack. Don't dowel the top layer. If you're assembling the cake at the display table, this is sufficient. If you're transporting the cake assembled, you will have to run a long snug tube all the way through the centre of the cakes as described by Annie.

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Laurie

annie1992 - Thank you for suggesting the tube idea in the middle and to use/make the cake circles slightly smaller than the actual cake.

Yes, we will all be eating a lot of practice cake : )


colleenoz - Thank you for the dowel size & placement details. The bamboo dowels I purchased are 1/4" diameter, so hopefully they will work. Right now, I'm thinking of assembling the cake on site. If I change plans, and transport the cake assembled, I will use the long snug tube down the center as you and Annie suggest.


Have either of you placed fresh flowers on a cake? I believe the florist will supply the flowers, but I will be the one who has to put them on the cake. Should I wrap all of the stems with florist tape before using them?


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colleenoz

I've also used fresh flowers on cakes. First be sure the flowers aren't poisonous :-) and as you think, if sticking the stems into the cake wrap them in florists' tape. If just laying a bouquet on top then just neaten the ends of the stems with a little tape. Remove any pollen-y stamens as well.

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sheilajoyce_gw

My daughter's wedding cake had flowers on it, and then more petals were scattered all over the table the cake was displayed on. It was very pretty.

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Islay Corbel

It looks lovely. No advice to give!

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bcskye

My mother and I used to do wedding cakes back in the dark ages and used the heavier dowels. Its been a long time and I've never seen stacked bundt cakes. They are so pretty. No advice, just wish I had a reason to make one.

Madonna

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Laurie

colleenoz - You bring up a good points - I'll make sure the flowers aren't poisonous & I will remove pollen-y stamens.


sheilajoyce_gw - I like your idea of using the extra flowers & petals for the table where the cake will be. Maybe adding some small votive candles on the table, too

Islay Corbel - I hope it will look lovely on the wedding day...keeping my fingers crossed!


bcskye - I saw those heavier dowels in the store. Stacking a large traditional cake would intimidate me! I would have to leave that job to a pro.

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Solsthumper

It's always smart to give yourself ample time to prepare for such an important event. You've been given good advice here to get you started.


And as the saying goes: There's more than one way to skin a cat (Hate to live next door to the psycho who came up with the phrase) .


In any case, I am making a similar cake for Valentine's Day. I won't be using styrofoam for the center support. Although, you could certainly carve one out of styrofoam to fit snugly in the cake. But I'm too impatient for that sort of thing.

I also do not like the thin, wooden skewers (I just don't trust their stability, or lack thereof).


For stacked cakes, I prefer fat, plastic straws (like the ones sold for smoothies. Or, the bubble tea straws). If you can find the straws in clear plastic, or pastel colors, the better; they'll disappear into the cake . . .


. . . and, unless there's a "Baby Jessica" in the crowd, no one will choke, or get hurt on them.


I will explain the way I would go about its construction, and the ways to decorate with flowers in detail, accompanied by pictures, on my blog, before V-day.

If you're interested, let me know, and I'll give you a heads up via email: memories in the baking @ yahoo. com



Sol

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Laurie

Sol - I agree. There are usually several ways to do things. Thank you for suggesting the sturdy plastic straw idea. I'll try bamboo wood dowels (since I already purchased them) on the first practice stacking. If they don't support well, I'll use straws on my next practice stack.

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Laurie

I bought a few new bundt pans adding to the 2 sizes I already had. The largest one is 10-15 cups capacity (same diameter as my old one but taller). The blue one is 6 cups, the red one is 3 cups.


Do you think the top tier cake will be so small that I might not need to put dowels below that one?




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annie1992

Oh, I like that pattern on the top layer, bottom photo.

I'd probably still put dowels for the smallest top layer, only because your center is empty and I'm afraid the cake will collapse inward, to fill that space. Nature abhors a vacuum, you know? At least that's what would happen to mine, LOL. I have some shaped pans that have a cone which you insert and it helps keep the middle cooked, but directions tell me to fill that space with jello, or marshmallows, to keep it from caving in.

But, if you have practice time, go for it! The dowels can be reused, of course.

Annie

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colleenoz

I also would dowel the middle layer to support the top layer.

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Laurie

Thank you Annie & colleenoz for letting me know that it would be a good idea to also include dowels below the third (smallest) cake tier. I'll likely be making a test stacked cake next weekend.

The cake recipe includes 3 Tablespoons of almond extract. I made a single bundt cake 3 weeks ago for the engaged couple to taste. They loved the texture and moistness, but would like to taste more of the almond flavor. In your opinion, should I try using almond liqueur (amaretto) instead of the extract?


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Laurie

CORRECTION - In my last post, I meant to say the recipe I used had 1 (one) Tablespoon almond extract, not 3!!

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shirl36

You be sure to post pictures of all your results....

i donot know anything about this subject...but I am finding this post very interesting.

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colleenoz

Why don't you try the three tablespoons of extract :-) Can't hurt

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annie1992

I agree with colleen, I'd stick to the extract. Although liquor does have a flavor, the extracts usually have a more intense flavor. So if you just want more of the almond flavor, I'd add more extract or a more concentrated extract if you can find it. I love Penzey's almond extract, it even smells good, but I think there are some concentrated versions that you could try.

Annie

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Laurie

shirl36 - Thanks for your interest...I will be sure to post photos : )


colleenoz & Annie - Thanks for your input. You, both, have been so helpful and I appreciate it! I'll try increasing the almond extract. The almond extract I have is Mc Cormick Pure Almond Extract.

I'll keep an eye out for Penzeys almond extract when ever I am at any stores in my area.

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Laurie

I baked yesterday and did my first practice stacking. I was very nervous about using dowels, but so far it's been about 1 hour & nothing is caving in : ) Now that the first practice is done, I have many more questions...and don't know where to begin!

My primary concern is the levelness (lack of) in the largest (bottom tier). I will post a photo of that cake for you to see how lop-sided it baked. Maybe I need to do something different in the baking process? Maybe, I should have sliced off that uneven "top" (which becomes the bottom when inverted)?

You will be able to see from the dowels (all cut to the same length) inserted into the bottom layer, that the dowel on the lower side of the cake rises up a little higher from the dowel on the higher side. The 5th photo from the top shows that higher dowel...it's at the bottom of that photo.

I placed a thin cardboard circle under the base of the lowest cake circle to raise up the lower side, as well.

I have other questions, but I'll post those later.

When viewing, try to imagine flowers & leaves placed in various spots to fill in the gaps : ) Also, the cake will be displayed on a thick slice of tree trunk for a rustic look.

The couple will be coming over this evening to see if they can taste more almond now that I doubled the almond extract. In addition, they will give input as to whether they want all tiers to be "dusted" or all tiers to be iced/piped.










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annie1992

Laurie, you should definitely cut off the uneven tops of each layer. I have a "cake leveler", which is basically a piece of wire with legs, but it doesn't work very well. I use a good old fashioned ruler and measure from the table up, marking the cake with toothpicks so I can cut the tops level. I level each layer/tier, then measure again as I stack to be certain that each tier is level. Otherwise your cake will come out lopsided.

It's sure looking good, though!

Annie

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colleenoz

The icing on that bottom layer is gorgeous! As Annie suggests, definitely level each layer. How much you cut off depends on the kind of effect you're after. If you want the grooving pattern from the cake pan all the way down each layer then you'll need to cut off all the extra "foofed up" bit. Or, if you are going to completely hide it with your flowers and leaves, you could just level off the top of the puffy part so that it sits flat but the extra cake (like that bit on your top layer) acts as a kind of raising stand to lift the visible patterned part of the cake above the ring of leavers and flowers (am I making sense? It's hard to explain).

I quite like my cake leveller, but it wouldn't work for a cake that high.

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Solsthumper

Looks like I missed this.


Laurie, if I read correctly, you're planning on using 2 TBSPS of Almond Extract in a single cake recipe.

If so, please don't do that.


Unless you're embalming the cake for posterity, I would not recommend it.



Almond extract is quite bitter, and for that reason, should be used sparingly. If your clients want a more assertive almond flavor, try adding a couple of tablespoons of Amaretto to the cake, plus a teaspoon of almond extract.

Cake mixes typically yield 4 ½ to 5 cups batter. So, 2 tablespoons Almond Extract in a single cake mix, would be overkill.



Or, how about this. Instead of artificially flavoring a cake mix, why not bake a true almond cake? My favorite almond cake calls for almond paste, so it packs a serious one-two punch of almond flavor.

And if sometime you choose to bake an actual almond cake, you won't have any trouble finding a recipe online.



Regarding the 'poof' on the last cakes pictured, I agree that trimming is necessary. You could do it, with a long, serrated knife, while the cake is still in the pan, by resting the knife flat against the pan, and slicing right through, using the pan as your guide.



Another tip. I would then use the scraps, to fill the hole in the largest Bundt cake. This way, you can add more support to the center of your cake, without going further out into the cake, exposing the wooden dowels.



There's also a way to avoid cutting the cake domes altogether. It's a tip I shared here, eons ago. But, this is your first wedding cake, and it's not my intention to overwhelm you with 'too much information.' Sorry if your head is spinning.



At any rate, these are some of my tips. Good luck, and enjoy your cake endeavor.



Sol


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Laurie

Thanks for all of your responses!

The couple really liked the amount of almond flavor in the cake this time. They also prefer all three tiers to have the piped icing (no powdered sugar). The icing tip I used has such a small diameter which made it very hard to squeeze out. I'll buy one with a slightly larger diameter and see if that helps.

I read a tip somewhere about one way to possibly reduce the amount of doming on a cake...it said to bake at a lower temp for longer. Next time, I'm going to try and reduce the temp from 350 degrees to 325 degrees & cook it longer....it's worth a try.


Annie - Thank you for responding and suggesting that I cut off the uneven top (which becomes the bottom). I am guessing I'll still have some kind of dome on the cake even if I reduce the oven temp. Hopefully, the dome will be less, so there will be less to cut off : ) I really don't want the total height of the three tiered cake to be reduced to much.

colleenoz - Thanks for liking the bottom layer icing. I need to practice with a slightly larger tip diameter. My fingers & hands were really sore when I finished. I get what you were describing about the "roofing up" and space filled in with leaves/flowers.

Sol - They seem to be happy with the flavor & texture of the cake, so I'll stick with it for now. Some day, I would like to bake with almond paste because I love almond pastries. I have a long serrated knife and could use the top of the bundt pan as my leveling guide...thank you for suggesting that.


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colleenoz

If you warm the icing it will be runnier and easier to pipe.

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Laurie

Here is my second stacking practice. Instead of using wood dowels, I used "Bubble Tea" straws inside the bottom 10" Bundt and "regular straws" inside the center 8" Bundt. These sturdy plastic straws were easier for me to cut compared to the wood dowels.

I used a Wilton size 7 tip this time which is slightly wider than the tip I used before. When the couple come over this evening, they can tell me if the thinner piping I used before looked better.

This time the cakes were baked at a lower temp which helped reduce the doming.

Still not perfectly level, but it will be OK.

The plastic covering on the tree slices will be removed on the wedding day. Not sure if they'll want to use both tree slices or reduce the height to just one slice.

I have two different 10" Bundt pans. Both of them produce cakes that are darker on the outside. My 8" & smaller pans turn out a much lighter color (you'll notice in the photos, below). Any suggestions on getting that bottom cake lighter in color?






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colleenoz

Love the cake! You are a good person to make so many test cakes (what do you do with them? It's a lot of cake to eat!)

The colour may simply be a question of baking times. If you look closely the top cake is a little lighter still. Kind of a nice, trendy ombre effect :-)

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Laurie

Thank you colleenoz. . Dh loves cake, especially when there is not too much frosting. My daughters will stop by this week and I'll send some with them, as well : )

Baking time makes sense. I never noticed the smallest third tier is even lighter than the middle tier. The couple like the coloring of the cakes & the
piping.

They both prefer to use the other tree slice we have...crack and all. It looks more rustic and that's what they are going for.
So, here is what the cake looked like when we transferred it to the more rustic tree slice.



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kathy_howe92

How did it all work out? My niece wants me to do this for her wedding. I had no idea that the layers would need supports.

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