Why pay big money for an expensive, bakery-made wedding cake when you can easily build your own romantic creation at home? Though the prospect of creating a tiered cake may seem daunting, it is based on some pretty simple elements of architectural support. Like all sound construction, a tiered cake begins with a good foundation.

Foundation

For bottom cake tier, fill and frost the two largest cake layers in the center of a covered cake board that is about 4 inches larger than the cake, being sure to smooth frosting on top and sides. Use a sturdy cake board, such as 1/2-inch-thick plywood.

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Support


Trim two circles of corrugated cardboard sized to fit under the cake layers for each additional tier (total of 4 cardboard circles). Tape the two pieces for each tier together for a double thickness of cardboard.

Cover the double-thick cardboard circles with foil that has been cut into a circle 1 to 2 inches larger than the cardboard. Center the cardboard on the foil. Cut slashes into the foil, spaced approximately an inch apart, around the entire circle. Fold each 1-inch tab of foil over the cardboard and tape into place.

Wrap the foil around the edges of our cardboard circle.
Wrap the foil around the edges
of our cardboard circle.


Structure

To mark the correct position for the next tier, gently hold the foil-covered cardboard just above the center of the frosted bottom tier. Using a ruler as a guide, center the cardboard and gently lower it onto the frosted surface. Use a toothpick to lightly mark around the cardboard. Remove cardboard.

Gently lower your foil-wrapped circle onto the next layer.
Gently lower your foil-wrapped
circle onto the bottom layer.


To make dowel supports for this tier, carefully push a 1/4-inch-thick dowel into the center of the bottom tier and mark the height of the cake on the dowel. Remove the dowel and use clean pruning or other heavy-duty shears to cut the dowel on the mark. Cut seven more dowel pieces the same length. Push dowel pieces into the bottom tier, evenly spacing pieces within the area marked for the next tier and trimming the dowel pieces, if needed, to get them just level with the cake.

Push the dowel pieces into the bottom tier, evenly spacing pieces within the area marked for the next tier.
Push the dowel pieces into the
bottom tier, evenly spacing pieces
within the area marked for the next tier.


Since dowels are difficult to cut, you may use plastic straws to support each layer, if you stabilize the tiers with one large dowel as described.

Fill and frost cake layers for this tier positioned on the appropriately sized foil-covered cardboard circle; smooth frosting on top and sides of cake. Carefully place tier in position on bottom tier. Repeat for all tiers, supporting each layer with dowels.

To stabilize tiers, sharpen one end of a 1/4-inch-thick dowel with a knife. Push sharp end of dowel into center of top tier and carefully push down through all tiers and cardboard circles. Trim dowel level with cake top. Carefully smooth frosting on cake top to cover dowel. Remove dowel pieces before cutting cake.

Push the sharp end of the dowel into center of top tier and carefully push down
Push the sharp end of the dowel
into center of top tier and carefully
push down through all tiers and
cardboard circles.


Decorations

Add your own creative touches with the decorations of your choice. Use a decorating bag to pipe on frosting borders and flowers, or apply premade decorations purchased from a cake decorating supply store or craft store. One of the simplest and most elegant ways to decorate a wedding cake is to use real fresh flowers. Be careful that the flowers don't have pesticides on them. Clean, fresh flowers should be placed on the cake right before it is displayed.

Food for Thought

Another option is the basket weaving technique.

"Basket" Cake Trick

By frosting the side of a layer cake with a basketweave pattern and adding fresh berries on the top, you can turn a common cake into an elegant "fruit basket."

  1. Spread top of layer cake with a thin layer of apricot preserves or caramel topping.

  2. Spoon buttercream frosting into a decorating bag fitted with a ridged basketweave decorator tip. Pipe vertical strips at 2-inch intervals around side of cake.

    # Work from the bottom of the cake up toward top.
    Work from the bottom of
    the cake up toward top.


  3. Make horizontal strip around side of cake, just below top edge. Repeat halfway down side of cake.

    # Use left hand to rotate cake plate as you pipe on horizontal strips.
    Use left hand to rotate cake plate as you pipe on horizontal strips.

  4. Pipe more vertical strips halfway between each of the strips made in Step 1. Refill decorating bag as necessary.

    # Space second set of vertical strips as evenly as possible.
    Space second set of vertical strips as evenly as possible.

  5. Pipe short horizontal strips between the horizontal strips made in Step 2 and along the bottom of cake. Each short strip starts at the edge of one vertical strip, crosses over next vertical strip and ends at edge of next vertical strip.

    Try to lift tip precisely at the edge of the next vertical strip.
    Try to lift tip precisely at the
    edge of the next vertical strip.


  6. Replace basketweave tip with star tip. Pipe a star border around top of cake. Pile mixed fresh berries on top of cake to look like fruit in a basket.

Not what you're looking for? Try these:

  • Cake Recipes: Find basic cake recipes as well as ideas for types of cakes you may have never even heard of, all on our Cake Recipes page.
  • How to Bake a Cake: Find basic instructions and definitions that will help you bake a cake in this article. You'll learn about selecting the proper baking pan, cooling and frosting a finished cake, and more.
  • Cake Decorating: Whether you just want to add "Happy Birthday" in piped icing or are ready to attempt a field of frosting flowers, this article will provide the tips you need.
  • Cooking: Learn the ins and outs of some basic cooking techniques in this helpful article.
  • How to Plan a Wedding: A wedding cake is one small aspect of an entire wedding. Find tips on planning your Big Day at HowStuffWorks.