Ask Nancy Archives

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I'll be answering ten questions each month... and if your question is chosen, I'll post a personalized response!

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Do you have a baking, decorating or celebrating question for Nancy? Now is your chance to have it answered.

Check here each month, Nancy will select ten questions submitted by viewers and posting her answers here.


Tiered Cakes Questions

When using the pillars and attachment plate, do I put the bottom plate under the cake then push the pillars through the cake?

Diana Najarian - from Toronto, Ontario

How can you make sure your layers are perfectly level when stacking a cake?

rose - from monongahela, PA

When constructing a 4 tier wedding cake, can I place the cakes directly on top of each other or should I use a cake board in between each layer?

norma - from cincinnato, OH

I normally bake from scratch but the boxed mixes are SO much quicker! If I used the boxed mixes to make cakes for a tiered cake, will they collapse? I'm still planning to use cake boards and dowels but will the cake itself collapse or fall apart near where the dowel is inserted? Thanks!

Rebecca - from Hilton Head Island, SC

Our local PBS station has stopped airing your show. How should i approach this? I really miss it.

linda - from sharpsville, PA

How many cups of batter are in a made from scratch 3 layer cake?

Terri - from Williamsburg, VA

Is it necessary to level all cakes when stacking them? If so, how do you know when you've trimmed enough? Also, is it best to freeze the cakes before trimming? Thanks, Nancy! Love your show!!!

Emily - from Smithfield , NC

I'm making an graduation cake. I want to know if I need dowel rods underneath a 4' cake that is stacked on top of an 8' cake? The idea I had was to make a 2-tiered cake, but make the 4'cake on top a graduation hat. Will I need cake rods under the 4' cake for support?

Daneekia - from KILLEEN, TX

Can you use parchment paper instead of tin foil to cover the cardboard of tiered cakes?

Cassie - from nortonville, KS

Why do my cakes have a soggy center or bottom? I make sure I mix the batter thoroughly and not make the batter too thin, and I do not underbake.

Gladys - from Singapore, Singapore

Dear Nancy: I will be doing a small wedding cake iced in buttercream and plan to put fondant flowers on it the day before the wedding as it will be picked up instead of delivered. Will my fondant flowers go soft after sitting on the buttercream overnite and part of the next day and fall off the cake? Thanks for your website - it has great information.

Grace - from Troy, MI

How do I accurately measure then cut the dowels for a layered stacked cake? Do you recommend wood or plastic? I have also read that straws can be used instead of the wood or plastic dowel?

Maureen Hernandez - from Miami, FL

Hello! I am making my wedding "cake". I am using a cake dummy, as we are traveling to our location. How early in advance can I frost my cake dummy? without making it look gross when it is presented? And what type of frosting do you recommend for this project. Thank you!!!

Candace - from Wanship, UT

What type of pans do you use when making a two tiered cake? (one round cake on bottom and a smaller one on top)

Jayme - from Farlington, KS

Twice now I made a 3 tier cake - both fell apart for some reason. I made sure I put at least 4 dowel rods, about the same height of each tier and the top cake still smashed the bottom tier. Help! I don't know what I'm doing wrong! :(

Leigh anne - from Seattle, WA

Hi Nancy - I will be making gumpaste cascading lily sprays for a 3 tier wedding cake. Would it be better to use fondant covered cakes to help hold the flower wires in place ? I'm afraid if I use buttercream, they may sag/slide or make indents in the icing. Please help ! Thanks !

Cathy - from Pittsburgh, PA

I'm making a buttercream frosted wedding cake top as a gift for a friends wedding in August to be eaten on their one year anniversary. Will the cake and frosting still be edible if frozen?

melissa - from coal township, PA

How can I modify the Chocolate Lover's Dream Cake to make a two tier 50th birthday cake for my father-in-law?

Danielle - from Opelousas, LA

I'm baking a wedding cake covered with fondant what can I use to pipe dots and pearl border? help wedding is Aug. 5th 2011.

Linda - from Clarksburg, OH

I'm planning on doing a 3 tier birthday cake for my daughter's birthday. I've bought the dowels, pans, & cardboard to separate the tiers but now I need a great recipe that can hold up in Florida and can be tiered. Do all of your recipes work or do I need to use certain ones...they all look so YUMMY!

Emily - from Naples, FL

How should I cut and serve a very tall layer cake, without making a mess of it in front of my guests?

Anne - from Bristol, UK, UK

I’m making one real cake and three dummy cakes. All will be placed on separate rising tiers. How far in advance can I ice the dummy cakes and have them remain looking freshly iced?

Elaine - from Shelby Twp., MI

Nancy, when I make my cakes and I’m doing stacked tiers (no pillars, just separator plates or cake rounds), as I place the cakes on top of each other, there always seems to be a gap in between. What am I doing wrong and what can I do to fix it?

Susanna - from Santee, CA

When un-stacking my fondant cake to cut it, the fondant on the bottom tier sticks to the cardboard on the top tier. How can I prevent this?

Monica - from Burton, OH

When making a topsy turvy cake, do I have to cut a hole in the bottom layer for the next layer or can I just stack them on top of each other and use a wooden dowel rod?

Rachell - from Haltom City, TX

I am just starting to make fondant-covered tiered wedding cakes. I recently made a tiered cake and noticed that the bottom tier started to sag. I used plastic dowels for stronger support. What can I do to prevent this from happening again?

Pamela - from Fremont, CA

How do you prevent a cake from falling apart when you are placing the second layer on top?

Denise - from Bronx, NY

For a stacked wedding cake (6, 8 and 10-in.) what sizes do the separator plates need to be?

Angie - from Toronto, Ontario

Is it possible to use cardboard cake boards to make tiered cakes? Or, must I use only the plastic stacking plates with the feet?

Billie - from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

I haven't been successful at getting my support dowels exactly the same size when assembling a stacked cake. Any suggestions?

Holly - from Port Hope, MI

I have been asked to make my uncle's 3-tier wedding cake. What type of cake would be the best to help support the top layers without the layers sinking into each other?

Ruby - from Yorkton, Canada

I'm going to be making my first wedding cake in June. The bride wants a tiered cake with 3-4 square tiers, however, she doesn't need all that cake. How do I do this?

Sharon - from Kansas City, MO

How do I put dowels in a cake, and how do I stack the second cake on top of the first cake by using dowels?

Ali - from Port Coquitlam, WA

What is the tool called that you cut the dowel rods with?

Ann - from St. Louis, MO

When making a stacked cake without pillars, do you put a cardboard base under each cake? How do you take apart and cut the cake to serve without the frosting sticking to the other cake?

Terry - from Moreno Valley, CA

How do you stack a top cake without the bottom layer crushing?

Angel - from Newport News, VA

How do I place a shaped cake on top of a round cake to ensure it does not fall off?

Kim - from Chesapeake, VA


The Public Television cake decorating show providing easy projects for special celebrations. Not intended to replace instructional classes.