Basics #13: Tiered Cakes

Stacking cake tiers is less baking and more cake architecture.

Tiered Cake

I don’t claim to be an expert at tiered cakes, but a little bit of know-how can go a long way. Up, that is.

Just like my earlier matcha cake with red bean filling, this chocolate-and-vanilla tiered cake was created to please two birthday persons. One wanted a chocolate cake, and one the other hates chocolate. What to do? I needed two different cakes. But what’s to stop me from slapping them together?

Stacking cakes is not rocket science, but you do need some common sense. The key thing here is support.

You will need at least two cakes, one at least 2 inches smaller in diameter than the other. You’ll also need two cake boards, one large one as the base of the whole cake, and a smaller board that’s the same size or slightly bigger than the smaller cake. For support, you can use plastic straws or wooden chopsticks. (You can buy wooden dowels from baking stores, but unless you make wedding cakes for a living, there’s really no point in buying those.) Here’s what I used for this particular cake:

  • 5-inch round yellow cake (one-quarter of the recipe)
  • 7-inch round chocolate cake (half of the recipe)
  • 6-inch round cake board
  • 9-inch round cake board
  • plastic straws

Step 1: Set the cakes on their respective boards and ice them. I used the same chocolate icing from the chocolate cake recipe, and a basic vanilla icing for the yellow cake. Let the icing set in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Step 2: Stick straws into the larger cake where the smaller cake will sit on later. Cut the straws so that they’re flush with the icing.


I used four straws, but use more if you want to be sure there’s enough support for the top cake. For me, four straws seemed more than enough to support a tiny 5-inch cake. Obviously if you want stronger support or if you have more than two tiers, use wooden chopsticks/dowels, although have fun trying to cut them to size. (Hacksaw, maybe?)

Step 3: Stack the smaller cake on top of the larger one. Because you’ve let the icing harden, you have some leeway for sliding the top cake around until it’s perfectly centered.

Stacked cake

Step 4: Cover up everything you don’t want seen with piping and/or cake decorations.

And that’s about it, really. Now that you know how to stack cake, the sky’s the limit (geddit?).


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