Monday, 15 June 2009

How to stack a wedding cake

Never stacked a cake before? - Don't Panic!

It really is quite easy, as long as you follow a few basic steps.

What size cakes?If you are stacking 2 cakes, 3 cakes or even 8 cakes, the difference between the sizes of cake should be 2" or 3" but no less than 2".

So for a 2 tier cake, your cakes sizes might be 7" for the top and 9" for the bottom, or 6" for the top and 9" for the bottom.

A wedding cake is usually made up of three cakes 10", 8" and 6"

Depth of Cakes

For stacking a cake you need to bake all of your cakes to the same depth, you can cut them to size.

Usually fruit cakes are cut to 3" deep and sponge to approx 2½" deep before filling with jam and Buttercream.

Put your cakes on to a thin cake card the same size as each cake - BEFORE covering with marzipan and or icing.

Check that your cakes are level - use a small plastic spirit level - (get them in your local DIY shop)

Once you have iced all the cakes separately, ice a large thick board (13mm Drum Board) for the bottom cake, e.g. if the bottom cake is on a 10" thin card, you will need to ice a 13" drum board, for all the stacked cakes to sit on.

Trade Tip - If you are making a wedding cake, that will be displayed on a large silver or gold base display stand, they are usually 14" across, (unless they are an antique stand), At Cake-Links we always ice a 14" thick board, so that it fits perfectly on the base display stand. For a wedding, phone the hotel and ask them what size the top of their cake stand is.

Before Stacking the cakes one on top of the other - you need to add supports.

Use plastic doweling to do this. Measure in 1.5" in from the size of the above cake and mark around in a circle. i.e. If you have a 10" base cake and your next cake will be 8", you need to mark on the top of the 10" cake 3.5" from the edge of the 10" cake. Push a dowell into the cake on the line you have just scored. Mark the dowel level with the top of the cake, making sure that you have pushed the dowel into the cake straight and have reached the thin card under the cake - remove and cut to size with preferably a junior hacksaw, or sharp kitchen knife. Push the cut dowel back into the cake making sure that the dowells are straight.. Repeat this so that you have 4 (or more if your prefer) dowels around in a circle. Finish with one final dowell in the centre of the cake.

Stacking the cakes

It's a good idea to mix up a little Royal Icing, Put a very thin amount on top of the bottom cake, covering the dowels. The Royal Icing will dry and help to prevent the cakes slipping in transit.

People have different opinions as to when to stack a cake - i.e. either before your icing has set or after the icing has set. As a rule, either stack while the icing is fresh or leave for at least 2 days before attempting to stack or you will crack the icing. We far prefer to stack while the icing is fresh, then if you mark the cake, it can still be smoothed back to perfection.

Stack the next cake on top, and then if you need to add a third tier, repeat the dowelling, add some royal icing, and stack the next cake on top.

Finishing the cakes.

It's a good idea to put a 12 or 15mm ribbon around the bottom of each cake, even if the ribbon is just the same colour as the icing - this will hide the join between the cake and cover up any rough edges that may otherwise not easily be covered with simple piping. Only put ribbon on the cakes once they are stacked!

Transporting a stacked cake.

It's a good idea to invest in a heavy duty stack box, these boxes have inserts in the bottom - both round and square that will hold the cake in position. oh and one more thing - drive carefully!

frequently asked questions

Can I stack a sponge cake
yes - We often make 3 tier stacked sponge wedding cakes - Just make sure you have plenty of support dowels

Can I have mixed tiers of fruit cake and sponge cakes?

Yes - but remember you can only have fruit cake at the bottom of a cake with sponge layers!

Would it be better to drill holes through the boards and put one dowel all the way through?

No - Absolutely not, this won't work, the cakes will still sink!!!

Do I need to dowell a Fruit Cake

Absolutely Yes - think about it, if a an 8" fruit cake weighs 1600g and has 800g of marzipan and 800g of icing on it - that makes 3.2kg - if you stack that on top of another cake it will sink, even if the cake undeneath is fruit - it will sink!!!!

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  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Thank you for the comments - glad you like our cake decorating supplies blog

  4. need help, how soon should I stack a 6 tier wedding cake, 2 cakes a tier? can take to church tomorrow night, for saturdays wedding or do I wait till Saturday?

    1. apologies we didn't see your post in time - hope it all went well, you can stack a cake in advance but 6 tiers may be better to stack on the day.

  5. I am stacking a 3 tier cake for the first time and the costumer asked if the cakes are taken apart to serve will the fondant have marks from the other tiers and not look all nice and neat anymore..... Need help as it is my 1st time and dont want to make a mistake

    1. Hi Sorry I missed your message.
      Yes there will be marks on the cakes after stacking it together - this is inevitable, there will also be four small holes from the dowels. And if you are securing the cake for safety we usually put a little royal icing between the layers to help stick the whole things together, so this again would mark the top of the icing ... sorry! Hope you get on ok.

  6. I am making a 3 tier square wedding cake......the bottom tier is 10 inches....i want to stack an 8in on this ...will do all the dowel and board accordingly ...from this second cake i want to insert pillars for the top tier ......will this work......pls help

    1. hi - yes that will work, just dowell as normal for the two tiers that are stacked one on top of the other. Then dowel the middle tier put the pillar over the top of the dowel, and mark the dowel level with the top of the pillar, and then cut to size.

  7. Hello:

    I'm stacking a 4 tier wedding fruit cake which will be covered with royal icing. The style calls for continuous RI flowers running down the sides of each layer Also, how do I stick the flowers to the cake in the event I allow the cake to dry. Please suggest the best steps as far as drying, sticking ribbon and attaching flowers.

  8. attaching flowers is uually done with Royal Icing. But you many need to support heavier flowers while they royal icing dries, so that they don't slide down the cake. Ribbon we always pull around the cake and double sided tape on to itself at the back of the cake.

  9. Im making a three tier wedding fruit cake for September. I want to keep it simple as Ive never done it before. I will use Renshaws fondant icing I think for each layer and want to decorate with flowers. Is it better to use real flowers (bearing in Mind its September), or silk flowers maybe dipped in eggwhite and castor sugar, or make my own sugarpaste flowers, which I understand is quite difficult. Any advice please.

  10. hi, you can decorate with fresh real flowers, you would need to talk to a florist, and you would also need to check which flowers are being used against a toxic plant list, just to make sure! Silk flowers can be very realistic looking now, and are often used in displays, they don't need to be dipped in anything. You would normally dip rose petals or other edible petals in egg white and caster sugar, although again this is going out of fashion with the use of raw egg white note really being advised. Sugarpaste flowers are relatively easy to make if you are making e.g. roses. But if you want to make wired flowers with florist paste, then you're into a whole new area, but it can be done, and the best thing to do, would be too look at courses at your local college, cake school or cake shop. Hope this helps.

  11. Hi- love your website so informative. I've done a few wedding cakes over the years,but now have to make my sons for May, so it has to be even more special!! They want a fruit cake base (no problem!) than a chocolate cake,and plain sponge top teir so 3 teirs. I am conservative and not happy to make the chocolate and plain weeks before-to my mind they need to be made within a few days of being eaten. My problem then is the icing, I had thought of icing moulds and putting a plain iced cake inside, but now realise the dummy cakes are solid polystyrene!!, I could buy aluminium tins and ice them upside down and put the cake inside at a later date- would that work-or is there an obvious solution that I've missed? The tiers are going to be decorated with a cascade of roses- shall I make them or buy them? I have medium skills!!! I quite fancy crystallising fresh flowers, would artificial egg white work? I shall probably have to experiment with that! I'd be really grateful for any advice Thanks Jill

  12. Hi,

    Thanks for putting up this guide, I'm just a hobby baker and I'm always looking for professional advice to improve my cakes. I've just started using a site called too. With your how to guide and using their dowel calculator I should be making perfect stacked cakes in no time :-)

  13. Apologies if I have sent this twice !
    Thanks for the information - it is really great
    One question - if I plan to stack the cake whilst the icing is fresh how long BEFORE the date of the wedding can this be done ie what is the maximum time you would suggest that the cake is stacked! Thanks for your help Jacky

  14. Hi I have been asked to make a three tier wedding cake but the lady doesn't want any fondant on them just all sponge and filled with buttercream and jam. I am a bit nervous as I don't think them will hold their own and just sink Can this be done and if so how Thank you in advance

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