One of the most popular questions we get asked when it comes to our extraordinary wedding cakes is how do we keep all the tiers in place?

How to stack a tiered wedding cake 

You may imagine this to be a fairly complicated process but we’re here to let you in on a little secret…it’s actually incredibly straight-forward.

The process of stacking your wedding cake takes place after the tiers have been baked and sometimes frosted (depending on your style of cake) but before we apply our intricate and colourful decorations.  

The technique of stacking a wedding cake is defined by the way in which each of the tiers sit directly on top of one another, a technique we use for our entire range of wedding cakes. 

Still not sure how we do it? Don’t worry, we have put together a handy step by step tutorial to show you the ins and outs of how to stack a wedding cake. 

Before we get started stacking our wedding cake, we need: 

  • A cake drum
  • Cake boards for each of our upper tiers
  • Wooden cake dowels
  • A cake decorating pen
  • A serrated knife
  • Spatula
  • Scraper 

To make this process of cake stacking as easy as possible, after we have frosted our cakes, they are always chilled before stacking to ensure the frosting is firm and the cakes are easy to manoeuvre.

First, let’s rewind slightly and get our tiers ready for stacking after the cakes have chilled following baking. 

Step 1. Place the bottom tier of the cake onto the cake drum. 

Top tip: Cake drums are normally about one inch thick to provide extra support for your wedding cake.

Stacking and decorating a tiered wedding cake  

Step 2. The remaining cake tiers should be placed on cake boards of corresponding sizes, eg: an 8" cake should be placed on an 8" board and so on. 

Step 3. Okay, now we can frost our tiers! Using a spatula to do this will ensure a smooth finish. 

Frost and chill wedding cake tiers before stacking 

Step 4. The tiers are popped in the fridge for chilling. 

Buttercream cake tiers

Step 5. The tiers should take around 30 minutes to chill, allowing for the frosting to firm up. 

Once the tiers have chilled, we are ready to get stacking! 

Step 6. Take the bottom tier and insert one of the wooden cake dowels into the centre of the cake and then evenly distribute more in a circular pattern around the central dowel.

Dowel cake tiers

Top tip: The dowels will always be within 1-2 inches from the outer-edge of the tier. 

Step 7. Grab your cake decorating pen and mark where each dowel reaches the top of the cake. 

Step 8. Remove the dowels and use your serrated knife to score them so that they snap cleanly. 

Step 9.  Re-insert the dowels back into your bottom tier. 

Top tip: The dowels should not sit above the top of your tier. If this happens your upper tiers will not sit evenly. 

Step 10. Pipe some buttercream on the bottom tier. Pick up your next tier and carefully place it on top of the bottom tier using the spatula for support if needed. 

Spread a layer of buttercream in middle of bottom tier

Place and centre chilled cake tier on bottom tier

Step 11. From this point on we are now starting to repeat the process of inserting the wooden cake dowels. As before, start by inserting one dowel into the centre of your tier and press down until you feel it touch the cake board. Repeat this step in a circle around the central dowel.

Top tip: As you add each of the upper tiers, fewer dowels will be used.

How to dowel wedding cake tiers 

Step 12. Mark each of the dowels where they meet the top of this tier with your cake decorating pen, remove them to cut accordingly and re-insert so that the surface of the tier is clear.

Spread buttercream on the next cake tier

Place and centre second cake tier

Spread buttercream on second tier

Let’s imagine for arguments sake that we are making a four-tiered cake and we are now going to stack our top tier but technically we could keep going with this process, dependent on how tall our wedding cake is.

Step 13. The Final step! All we need to do now is pick up our top tier and carefully position it on top of the lower tiers, again, using the spatula for added support. You then pipe buttercream along the base of each tier and use a scraper to even out any visible gaps.

Place top cake tier

Pipe buttercream on edges on base of cake tiers

smooth the buttercream on the base to achieve seamless and smooth finish

Bonus tip: If a cake needs extra support, for example if it is a heavy fruit cake, a central dowel can be inserted through the length of all the tiers. 

There you have it! A wedding cake stacked in no time, with all the mechanics hidden behind the scenes. How clever!

Perfectly stacked and smoothed tiered cake

Now it’s time for the fun bit… decorating!

Buttercream lace piping 

Frequently Asked Questions About Stacking Wedding Cakes

How many dowels are required per tier? This all depends on the size of each tier but as standard between 3-9 dowels are used per tier. 

Each of my tiers are a different flavour. Does it matter how I stack them? If your tiers are different flavoured sponges then no, the order in which the cake is stacked should not matter. However, if your cake features one layer of traditional fruit cake, this should always go at the bottom due to the weight, or as the smallest top tier.

How do you insert the final rod for extra support easily through the length of the cake? You will need to drill a hole big enough to fit the central dowel through all the cake boards for the tiers (except for the bottom tier of course). This will then allow you to easily slot each tier down the central dowel. However, we do not do this in our bakery as if in the unfortunately case of an accident on delivery, a central dowel will do far more damage by ripping through the whole cake.

We hope you found out wedding cake stacking tutorial helpful.

If you think of any more questions, please feel free to add them to the comments section below.

Are you in the process of choosing your wedding cake? Check out our full range of cakes for some inspiration here and find information on all our wedding cake sizes and prices here.


6 Responses



March 12, 2024

How do you put the dowel pins in the upper cakes are they surpose to go thought cake board to keep them straight and level and what is the best cake mix and iceing to use

Tonye Ibiama

Tonye Ibiama

October 15, 2023

I have an 8 teir wedding cake to make.all 5 from top is styrofoams.then the rest below are all cakes pls how do I stack and dowel.thanks for quick response

Cheryl Sinkler

Cheryl Sinkler

January 11, 2023

How do know where the center hole is where you drill the boards? to put the center rod in the top through all the cakes tiers?is there a way to mark it?

Mwaka Fwambo

Mwaka Fwambo

October 17, 2022

I’m a soon to be wedding cake baker and this tutorial has answered many of questions and I can’t wait to apply your tips. Thank you very much 🤗

Monique McIntyre

Monique McIntyre

June 28, 2021

What is the point of the dowels in each tier if they don’t go through each tier for support (to hold them all together)?

Cecilia Moore

Cecilia Moore

April 09, 2020

Thank you for this great tutorial…I was wondering if you could tell me…if making a wedding cake (4 tier) how can I add lights to it??
My daughter will be getting married in July and has asked me if I could make the cake. I am not a professional but I do believe I have learned how to make them and they are tasty but I don’t know if adding lights is something I can do and not mess up so any help would be greatly appreciated. :)

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