A tiered wedding cake is heavy, and without enough support, the upper tiers will compress the bottom tiers, resulting in dramatic and disastrous collapses and cake cave-ins. There are two ways to support a wedding cake; one is using columns and the other is dowels. Dowels are used when cake tiers are stacked directly on top of one another. A series of dowels are inserted into each layer. This creates a solid surface for the next layer to rest upon.
Place the bottom wedding cake tier on a piece of ½-inch foam board or on several layers of cardboard. Extremely large or elaborate wedding cakes should be placed on plywood covered with a food-safe covering.
Mark the dowel placement area on the bottom tier. Trace the tier above the bottom layer onto a cake board and centre it on the bottom tier. Gently push the cake board into the bottom tier to mark the dowel placement area. Dowels are placed 1-½ inch inches away from the inside edge of the marker (between the marker edge and the tier centre) and they are spaced 1-½ inch inches away from each other.
Determine the size of the dowel. Place a dowel in the bottom tier 1-½ inches away from the edge of the marked area. Push it straight down into the cake bottom until it hits the foam board. Mark the dowel's height (level with the top of the cake) with a serrated knife. Remove it from the cake and cut it to size. Make all the dowels for this layer the same length. Use the first dowel as a reference.
Repeat steps one through three for each cake tier. Very large or heavy wedding cakes will require you to place a cake board between each layer in addition to the dowels.
Plastic dowels are thicker than wood ones so you use fewer dowels. They are more expensive than wooden dowels. Sharpened wooden dowels can be used to push long dowels into the cake but they are not necessary.
All of the dowels must be placed in the centre of each tier. Failure to line up the dowel placement area can result in a collapse.