Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dowels...wooden or plastic?

Wilton plastic dowel rods

Wooden and plastic dowel rods
When constructing a wedding cake, dowel rods must be inserted into each tier to support the tiers that are stacked above it. Until a few years ago, the decorator always used wooden dowel rods, because they were the only ones available. Several years ago, Wilton came out with hollow plastic dowel rods that I find work much better than wooden dowels...they add more support and are easier to work with. The white plastic dowels are 12 inches long and come in a package of 4. The plastic is quite thin, so they can be cut easily with a small knife or saw, just like you would cut the wooden dowels. After cutting, I like to sand the ends smooth with a piece of sandpaper. Because the diameter of the plastic dowels is much wider than the wooden dowels, they add greater support, even though cake still comes up the center of each since they are hollow. Wooden dowels also have a tendency to tilt, whereas the plastic ones aren't as likely to have that problem. Here are some hints to make sure that your tiers are level when inserting the dowels.
  • Cut the dowels for each tier separately. The tiers, even though on the same wedding cake, may be slightly different in thickness, which can make a difference.
  • Be certain that all dowels for each tier are exactly the same height, after sanding the ends.
  • Always insert the dowels around the edges of your cake plate or board, never in the center. If the cake settles too much, the cake will be balancing on the center dowel, and may tilt to one side.
  • Cut your dowels only slightly below the top of cake, since there is always a chance that the cake will settle a bit.

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