In the past I used to go to these massive Tongan weddings and seen the extravagant way cakes were displayed and was amazed at the way they were structured. I know that I had made a previous post about the best ways to display cake art, but today, I wish to focus on tiered cakes.
Therefore, my article today is all about the best tiered techniques for Cake Artistry.
I will show you tips, that may be help towards developing your own cake decorations skills and to learn all about stacking and cake tiers.
What Does A Tiered Cake mean?
A tiered cake means there are more than one cake, each in a series stacked one on top of the other, in a hierarchy of levels either horizontally, vertically or at an angle.
Tiers are counted, ranking lowest to the highest by the height rank/level, as seen in the chart below:
According to historical tradition tiered cakes were only limited to three. Why? here is why.
The story goes, that between the years of late 1700s and early 1800s, the first tiered cake was invented by a London pastry chef called William Rich. William had fashioned his cake design on the steeple of London's St Bride church.
The original cake tiers were alternated with fake cakes, because, of the ingredients used during this time and how it was processed, icing came out very heavy. Columns could not hold their weight.
Therefore, the lower cake and the in-between tier cakes were fake, but decorated with icing, and once they hardened, they were placed in between to hold the real cakes in place.
There are many ways to display cakes, as I had mentioned before in my previous post, however when it comes to creating several cake tiers, there are certain structural tools and rules we need to know before doing any structural work.
It is an art, in which you create a visionary dimension of grandeur and beauty. However, these also need a strong foundation.
Therefore, we need to know how to make sure that your creation remains standing throughout the whole time of display. to do this, we need to use the right tools:
- Cake cards to be used underneath the actual cakes (invisible to viewers and thinner than cake boards or drums).
- Plastic Straws/Rods or Wooden Skewers
- Small metal Pliers to cut the rods/skewers
- Scissors if using plastic straws
- Strong Cake Lifter
- Piping bag with the same icing used on the cake - used to fill up rod holes and to glue cakes to the boards
- Cake drums/boards (already decorated using any of the cake display techniques in my previous post)
Certain Aspects To Consider Before Stacking
Before we even look at stacking, we need to consider certain aspects of the cakes, such as:
- How many people are catered for?
- What are the sizes of each tier?
- How heavy are the cakes - the density (much heavier if they are layered, and have decorative toppers)
- What sort of icing does it have?
- The thickness of the frosting/icings
- The thickness and diameter of cake boards/drums being used
- The distance for delivery
- Length of time cakes are on display
- Will you use fake cake dummies or polystyrene dividers?
- How will your cakes be stored and moved?
How To Determine Catering Numbers By Cake Size
Now, when we create cakes, we should always consider the total amount of people that will be eating the cake.
The professional cake artists, use these measurements to also determine the worth and the price of their creation.
When I first started my cake artistry, I found it really difficult to ask for what my cake was actually worth and always gave myself the reason that, since I am not a professional, my cakes were not up to par and therefore, always ended up under selling myself.
It was not until I completed the online courses, that I learned, that by under selling my own talents, I was also hurting every other home baker/cake decorator.
I lessened the worth of every other skilled cake artist, by lessening my worth, and it did no justice to anyone.
Therefore, I had to change my mind set, and charge my worth. I do not charge the same price as professionals or bake shops, however, I no longer under sell, because of embarrassment for asking too much.
I have started using the calculation chart that many professionals use to estimate their own cake pricing. The formula used is easy to implement and backs me up when I need to show my customers, what I charge and the reason why.
I have provided a copy of Art Thou Cake's pricing list as an example, so that you can use this for your own cake decorating business. Please note that the prices are, in NZ Dollars and not USD, therefore you may need to adjust it accordingly.
See my chart below:
The chart represents a basic calculation that anyone can use. The calculation formula is basically, the amount of serving per cake multiplied by the cost of each slice, to get the price per cake order.
However, the size of the cake pan determines how many servings you can get out of each cake.
I use the above chart to estimate my costs, but include extras such as custom-made toppers (remember toppers alone, can cost more than $100 on their own, so make sure this is included as an extra in your final invoice or quote).
Another cost that is not indicated in the chart, is the delivery of the cakes and any extra display/decor (sometimes, the customer will leave the whole table decoration and display for you to figure out, and it may pay for you to start a small stand collection, in case this happens).
For more help in getting the correct pricing, I suggest that you visit Cakerschool for their comprehensive course on how to build your cake decorating business.
I hope that I have given you enough information to be able to build your own confidence and to never under sell yourself again.
Stacking The Tiers
Most people still have no idea on how to stack cakes. It is easy, only if you have the correct tools and techniques.
I can list you all the techniques I have, but everyone has a different way of stacking tiered cakes. I prefer to use only straws for stacking my cake tiers and some prefer the stability of wooden rods.
Again it is a personal preference for me, because I am not so sure about the safety of snapped wood, leaving splinters inside cakes.
The other reason, I prefer to use straws, is the fact that they will not leave or take away from the cake, with regard to flavor or smell.
If you use wooden rods, you will need to make sure that they are first of all FDA approved.
I always believe that the best way to learn how to do something well, is to watch someone else, and one of my favorite cake decorators is Krazy Kool Cakes & Designs. They are an awesome husband-wife team who have a series of cake decorating YouTube videos. I watch her series for tips and additional learning for my own cake designs.
I like how the videos are very clear in the verbal instructions, which takes you through at a nice pace and ensuring that you can view what she is doing, without any distractions.
If you don't want to do some online course to learn how to stack, then go ahead, just watch Laura yourself, and how she stacks her cakes, in this video.
If you have never learned the art of stacking tiered cakes, and would like to give it a try, then, I hope that the information that you have gained in my article will enable you, to further develop in your cake decorating skills.
I also hope, that you will know your worth and never under sell yourself and the real value of your cakes.
If you have any questions regarding any of the information in my article, or would like to share your own experiences, then please leave me a comment below, so that I may respond.
May you have a wonderful day of cake decorating.
We shall chat soon.