11/04/2011 09:36 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Stack A Tiered Cake

A tiered cake needs support to keep the bottom layer from sinking, says chef Dianne Rossomando of The Culinary Institute of America. To prevent this, you need to insert plastic straws or wooden dowels into the lower layers of a tiered cake for support. Chef Rossomando starts with two cakes that have already been frosted and covered in fondant. She places the bottom tier on a plate, then measures a straw against the side of the cake, cutting it just slightly below the level of the top. Using this straw as a guide, she cuts three more straws for a total of four. Working in a clockwise motion, she places the four straws into the middle section of the bottom tier, creating a square shape with four points. Once the straws are inserted, she places the top tier over the bottom tier with the help of an offset spatula.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Rossomando from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to stack a tiered cake.

The tools you need for stacking a tiered cake will be an offset spatula, some straws - maybe some wooden dowels, if your cake is heavy enough - and a pair of scissors.

You want to make sure you have two cakes already assembled and finished at this point - you don't want to work on the cake once it's assembled. We'll use the offset spatula just to help you lift your cake up and onto the plate. You lower the front of the cake down first, and then slide off and out with the spatula.

The purpose of the straws is just to support the weight of the cake you're putting on top. It is not to skewer the cakes or hold them in place - just to make sure that the weight is distributed well, and that you're not gong to crush your bottom layer. I'll check how high the straw comes up on the bottom cake, note it, and just cut the straw a hair lower than the cake itself, so when you insert the straws they will not stick up over the top of the cake. I'll go ahead and cut three or four more for this size cake: for this demonstration, we have a ten-inch cake and a six-inch cake.

You want to work in basically a clockwise motion. I'm going to press a straw all the way into the cake, and use the long straw to push it below the surface. (Please let your guests know that you have straws in your cake!) You're working in a clockwise configuration. You want to make sure that you're going to support the cake on all sides, not on one side of the cake; that's why you want to make sure it's in four points.

When we have four supporting straws inserted, then I'll go ahead and take the offset spatula, lifting my six-inch cake and placing it down on the ten-inch cake, making sure I'm appropriately spaced and centered - and then you have a two-tiered, stacked cake.