How to Make a 3 Tiered Cake


So you have been asked to make a tiered cake.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!  A monumental task that is almost equivalent to asking you to build the Eiffel Tower if you have never done it before!

But the warrior in you could not refuse!

You may be having nightmares about it since you agreed to do it, and that is all normal.  Will it fall over?  Will it collapse under the weight? Will my recipes even work in a tiered cake?  Do I refrigerate it? How far in advance can I make it?

The questions are probably running through your head like mad, making you second guess your very existence in the cake world!

Ok, maybe not so dramatic but perhaps you do have some questions about the whole process, so I have made this fast (well 17 minutes fast) video on how to stack a cake from start to finish and I think I addressed every detail throughout the way and will reinforce all of it here.

When I made my first stacked cake 26 years ago I was a 16 year old wreck!


myfirst paid order
My 1st order for a 2 tiered anniversary cake circa 1989

I remember working into the wee hours of the morning when the rest of the house was fast asleep; working on the intricate details.

I learned how to stack a cake in my high school Home Economics class! Can you believe that!  That would never happen in today’s time!

But how lucky I was to learn this in a public school, thus sparking my passion for pastry that is burning just as strong today!

Ok enough about me and memory lane, lets get to the details of How to Make a 3 Tiered Cake!


First of all you will need some special equipment: (all the links below are clickable!)

Heavy Duty Masonite Board or Cake Drum for building the cake and supporting the weight of the structure.  I will choose a size that is about 4 -6 inches larger in diameter than my bottom base tier.  So for example if my bottom cake is 12″ I will pick a board that is 16″ or 18″ in diameter.  *Be sure to check that the board will clear the opening to the refrigerator BEFORE you build the cake on it!  yes, I have built an entire wedding cake on a board that would not fit into my refrigerator and trust me you DO NOT want to deal with that horror story!

Most standard masonite boards are ¼” thick but you can find ones that are ½” thick and could be a better option depending on the weight of the cakes.  I will opt for the thicker version, or simply glue 2 or 3 together for added strength. Masonite boards must be covered with foil wrap or doilies, or ruffle edging.

Cake Drums are heavy duty corrugated cardboard that are sturdy enough to accomadate heavier cakes for transporting and displaying. All boards are wraped in either silver, gold or white decorative foils. Boards measure 1/2″ thick and presents a perfect edge for trimming with ribbons and pearl beading. They are available in rounds and squares. They are grease resistant.

Choose a board that is suitable to your specific cake considering the height of the tiers and the weight of the entire finished cake.  It is always best to go heavier duty than flimsy.

Cardboard Circles in the same size as each tier as well as another one for each tier in a couple inches larger than the size of the cake.  I explain in detail in the video tutorial below why I feel it is necessary as a transport of each tier in and out of the refrigerator as we are working on the construct.

Dowel Rods  Dowel rods are essential to support the weight of each additional tier as you build up. There are several options and it basically comes down to personal preference.

Wooden Dowels / Plastic Dowels / Drinking Straws.

I have used all 3 and I have always gravitated back to the wooden.  Straws are my second choice and I do not prefer the plastic ones whatsoever.

I use bamboo dowels and 1 pack of 12 is sufficient for the smaller 3 tiered cake as shown in the video.  I use a small paring knife to cut them to the desired size and they break by hand quite easily once you have made the initial groove.  Some people say, “WOOD!? in my cake?”  These are food grade and made specifically for tiered cake assembly. I have never had a problem with splintering, but for those who may be wary, you can always insert the wood dowel into a plastic drinking straw for added insurance.

The drinking straws are a great cheap alternative to wood dowels, but I would recommend the thicker “bubble tea” straws also found at Starbucks, they are just larger and sturdier than the regular drinking straws you may be familiar with. I do not recommend drinking straws for cakes that are stacked over 3 tiers.  All it would take is for 1 straw to have a defect or hairline fracture that could bend under the weight and well…you can predict that disaster.  Straws are great for shorter cakes that are not required to support so much weight.

The plastic dowel rods are hollow, almost like giant heavy duty plastic drinking straws, but I find them cumbersome to cut and they are the most expensive too.  In my opinion they take too much cake with them when they are pulled out before cutting. (The entire hollow center gets filled with cake that ends up being wasted)

Parchment Paper Circles can be cut from larger parchment sheets.  They are useful as the buffer between each tier.  I have forgotten to place the parchment circles in the past and when the kitchen staff removed the top tier from the next one  the entire buttercream layer from the cake underneath went with it.  The parchment circles will act as a buffer to keep the buttercream icing where it is supposed to be at all times. Simply peel away the parchment circle and your cake will be unscathed for beautiful serving slices.

Next we need some recipes!

What recipes are the best for making tiered cake?

Well, I get this questions often, and my answer is always the same, as long as you are building the cake correctly you can use any recipes you like! (with the exception of the traditional Tres LEches since we don’t want dripping cake layers!)

But other than that, anything goes!

I’m not sure why so many people worry that the Vanilla Sponge Cake recipe is not going to hold up to stacking. Again- if you build it properly you can use any cake really! Angel Food, Chiffon Cake like honestly anything!

Another most asked question is “Can I ice the cake with Whipped Cream?”

Well, yes you can….and many people do.

I do not,  but that’s just my preference to avoid disasters whenever possible.  Whipped Cream requires refrigeration pretty much at all times.

Ok, maybe an hour or two out on display won’t be the end of the world but I just don’t like to take chances like that.

I often try to explain to my clients that whipped cream as a filling will be Great!

“But how about we compromise and use the buttercream as a light icing, and here is why…..” Then I proceed to explain what I just wrote above.

Most clients just don’t realize that certain recipes can’t hold up under the circumstances that a wedding reception requires and are relieved to know that they averted a major disaster simply by opting for the buttercream instead! (I repeat some people will do whipped cream wedding cakes and have no troubles or worries, I personally do not.)

4.8 from 11 reviews
How to Make a 3 Tiered Cake
Building a 3 tiered cake is the epitome of Building on Recipes theory so be sure to have all your base recipes prepares in advance
The combinations are endless so I will list exactly what I used in the video below
Cake serving sizes can be estimated with this chart
I made a 10" + 8" + 6" cake to serve approximately 60 people
Serves: 60 servings
  1. Follow along in the video tutorial below
Tiered cakes are built to withstand hours on display at the event. Of course your recipes for fillings and icings will determine this more than anything, but for the most part if you build the cake properly as shown in the video tutorial you will not have any trouble with the durability of the cake structure itself.

It is optional to use the simple syrup on the yellow cake layers. It is really a nice touch to add some flavor infused syrup as a light brushing to the layers in sponge cake recipes

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  1. Hey Gretchen!
    All your recipes are just amazing and I use them every time I bake. For the first time I will be baking a three tier cake this weekend, and I seek your help with a query. Generally I have seen some videos were apart from the tier dowels they also inset a middle long dowel through all the tiers. Is it really required? And can I omit that center dowel and just do what you have done and the cake can be still transported without mishaps? Thanks again!.. 🙂

    1. HI Thanks, I do not use anything other than what I have showed you here. I have traveled with tiered cakes for over an hour with no trouble.

  2. Would you also ganache the cake in sections as you did buttercream and then put them together? Or could you just stack them and pour the ganache over top? I am using the same size of red velvet cake with white chocolate mousse filling and raspberries on top of the mousse. Covered in dark chocolate ganache.


      1. Thank you so much! You said in the video you look to make sure it’s level. But you didn’t say how to fix it, if it isn’t level.

        1. ah, good insights.
          You can level it by adding more buttercream wherever it is offset (but ideally the cake should start out level to begin with)

  3. Hi there! Question? While i make the batter for a 12″ (i’ll need to make a double or triple batch of your recipe), can the first batch sit while i get more prepared?

      1. Ok. I was thinking of your moist fluffy white cake. Instead of trying to figure out how to upscale it i would just double or triple them and use left overs for cupcakes lol. I just want to make sure that the next 10 mins while it sits is ok. Should i have it in the fridge for 10 mins while i prep the other?

          1. Thank you so much!!!! You’re so quick. Not sure what happened with the Woodland Bakery but I wish you the very best on your next chapter.

            Little tip i came across. It’s called a turntable extender. It’s awesome. Upscales almost any 10″ to 12″ turntable into 20″ max. Great for sheet cakes to. I’m in Canada but it’s in the US. Check out innovative sugarworks. You won’t be disappointed for $39.99, i promise!!!! It cost me $88 to get it here 🙁

  4. I made your three-tier white cake with Lemon Curd filling and Swiss Buttercream frosting for our daughter’s wedding. As I’d never made a cake that size before, I watched your video (many times) and did a practice run. The final product was fabulous! It looked beautiful, simply decorated with flowers as you had done. We had many, many complements about how delicious it was compared with other wedding cakes. The only thing I would caution anyone about is that the cake should be left in the cooler until it’s ready to be served, as the delicious, delicious Swiss Buttercream frosting can’t be expected to look her best in a hot room. I had a minor drooping issue on an edge, that was easily fixed. No one noticed, but I wish I’d thought about it sooner.
    We can’t thank you enough for helping to make our girl’s big day extra special. I’m so glad I found you again, as it’s her birthday and it will mean a lot to her if I make her cake from one of your special recipes. Your new website is lovely .
    You’re the best!

  5. Great video! Thanks for the tips, I never transfered a stacked cake, I usually stack at site which is very unconvenent. Can you give me tips or information on how to transfer an already stacked cake? Thanks!

    1. Oh wow, Ive always transported them stacked, I build them the day before ,make sure they are super cold and “glued” together with the buttercream and them drive them in my trunk or the back of an SUV or van and just BE CAREFUL! You drive like you would in a snowstorm thats the best tip

      1. Thanks for your reply! I am going to try for the first time this weekend, now I need to figure out a box that would fit, do you just buy a regular cardboard box to fit? Thanks

        1. I actually never used a box to transport. In my opinion they are cumbersome and unnecessary. You can use a non skid pad for under the cake board and it will not go anywhere in the car ride over!

  6. Dear this video is very very helpful as I’m going to try wedding cake……………

    you hadn’t soaked the cake layers with syrup……………is it better to do avoid soaking as the base cake will tear with the weight of top tiers………….

    As u were an entrepreneur, plz help me to find out the cost of this 3 tiered cake…….I live in India……

  7. Hello Grethchen! My daughter’s wedding is coming up in 10 days. I will make a 3 tiered cake of 10″, 8″, and 6″. She has around 150 guests. If I were to just make a sheet cake on the side, what will be the size of the sheet pan, how many recipes/pan so other guests would get to taste your delicious cake. Help!!! Thank you…

      1. I am a newbie in thus sheet cake, sorry… So, how many recipes do I make for 1-12″x18″

        And you’re saying for me to do 2 pans?

        And I tort each cake to give me 4 layers?

        How many smbc recipes just for filling as it will just have to be a naked cake?

        Thank you Gretchen!!!

        1. 1 entire recipe will make 1- 12X18 sheet (so if you want your sheet cake -FINISHED- to have 2 layers- then you will need to make it 2X for 1 whole sheet cake finshed.

          So if that is confusing- just know that 1 recipe = 1- 12X18″ layer
          You do not torte sheet cakes because they are already only 1½ tall

          ½ recipe buttercream for the filling only

  8. Hi Gretchen , Another great tutorial. I am making a 3 tier cake for my frnds daughters bday.Im going with pink color and so strawberry mousse filling. In design , I was thinking of pink rosette , white cake and mousse filling in the bottom tier. For second layer I was thinking of white color with quilt design and strawberry cake and mousse filling. And some guests will be pure vegan so third layer will be eggless cake and whipped cream and fresh Strawberries.and topping the cake with white chocolate tiara.
    What do you think about it?
    Also how thick the cake layers should be? Should I use3 – 1 inch cake layers ?
    I was going with 10 8 6 inch round cakes.
    how should I handle the mousse? Should I use little .. I’m a big fan of generous fillings ..
    I wanted some pearl texture on my middle white tier. Should I pearl dust over the iced cake or mix the dust in the icing and then ice it?
    Please let me know your suggestions. I really appreciate !! Thanks

    1. WOW Awesome! What a task you are taking on & I LOVE that you are considering the vegans! that is wonderful!
      I usually use 1″ layers yes- correct
      I am also very generous when it comes to fillings, but for wedding you have to hold back just slightly- not severely
      Be sure your buttercream dam is thick and sturdy and you will be fine.

      I have not had good results to mix pearl or luster INTO icing, it gets lost and is a waste. But they have spray luster now that you can add last

      1. Thanks a lot Gretchen !!
        Few more queries
        I will have to carry this cake in my car. Any suggestions ? I have a sedan car. I think i will hold it on my lap .my hus will drive. Should I assemble on spot?
        Also white chocolate tiara , will it be fine on buttercrram icing? Is it better to keep it just before Cutting?
        Thanks Again !!!

        1. I have driven with stacked cakes wither in the front on the FLOOR passenger side or in the trunk, just drive like you are in snow.
          I find more danger with driving it on my lap- too many variables, so I prefer to let it go by itself with a nonskid pad under it
          Its up to you to assemble at home or at the event really.
          I never had trouble driving with stacked cakes though – just take it slow, no shortstops.
          Tiara will be fine in BC

  9. Hi Gretchen

    I’m using your Swiss buttercream for a 2 tier wedding cake. I’m covering cakes today ready for wedding tomorrow. Looks as though I have to keep them in the fridge? The cream won’t ‘sweat’ too much when it comes out the fridge will it? Many thanks!

    1. they may sweat slightly depending on the severity of the temperature extremes. If it goes from cold fridge to super hot room, yes sweating, I was in a constant battle against sweaty cakes in the bakery from end of June ot mid September- nightmare! (just towel it off with a paper towel)

      1. Thanks, I decided to leave out the fridge as my kitchen was cool overnight and then it went to cool room at the venue. It was a success! Thank you, they all loved your buttercream and I did a white chocolate version too – very yummy! 🙂

  10. Hi Gretchen!
    I would just like to know what tip do you use for the dam before you put in your filling? Thanks.
    Wow! Can’t keep up with you. Too many wonderful recipes too little time. Just to let you know what I’ve done since I stumbled upon your blog early this year…
    3 tiered wedding cake for my son in Mach, a cake for baby shower for them and a bridal shower cake for my daughter in June, and a 3 tiered wedding cake for my daughter in August. All from your blog and all got raves and high praises. I purchased your cookie book and plan to bake some to give away this Christmas. Thank you so much for your dedication and generosity to impart your talent…

      1. Thanks for the reply! For a while I thought we lost you again that I have to check your fb for updates. What a relief to read that you were just in Jersey…
        Re refining recipes, just take it easy and do it just a step at a time as it can be overwhelming. I think your bloggers are a patient lot and gives us time to try out the recipes you put out here. Oh, boy do we need to create a lot of occasions to make them!!! So now it’s the baptism of my granddaughter on the 26th of Sept and I want to make your Apple Caramel cake.
        Can you freeze the cake as I can only bake after work and for how long?
        What size of round pans for 20-25 guests and how many recipes?

        1. yeah I realized that with my track record in disappearing websites, I should have notified everyone before I left! Thanks for the support and the worry! LOL
          yes to freezing the cake, I try to list the storage options after each recipe ingredients and methods, I hope I did for this one?
          Typically cakes are OK for up to a month wrapped well in plastic
          You will be great with a 10″ cake for that many people- (this means 2X recipe for 2- layers 10″ cake —- 3X for 3 layers 10″ cake)

  11. I’m making this cake for a wedding and it will be your vanilla cake with Bavarian cream filling and your Swiss meringue buttercream frosting. This cake will need to sit outside (temps should be between 50 – 70 degrees) for about 4 hours because the location of the reception doesn’t have a refrigerator. I’m really nervous about the cake (frosting and filling) holding up that long and I was wondering what your thoughts might be. Thanks for your help, I love your recipes!!!

  12. Again I bothering you with dumb questions. Please forgive me. I want to make sure; for the 10″ layer do I make 2 recipes of the yellow cake correct ? I am so nervous about making my son’s wedding cake. Its my first one. Thanks! Love your videos!

    1. Now Im getting confused! LOL
      For each 10″ layer you will use about ¾ of the entire recipe of batter- so if you need 2 layers of cake – you will make the entire recipe 1.5 times.

      So basically do the math for the recipe 1½ times and divide it evenly between the 2- 10″ pans

  13. Me again, hope you are having an amazing Florida day! I have watched wedding cake instructions several times. I have a wedding cake to do for my brother in March. It is an inside wedding thank goodness. But still concerned about the custard filling. I tried talked them out of it since the last cake (outside wedding) didn’t do so very good. The filling broke and ran out as it was being cut.
    I am trying to get a time line and this is as close as I can get. Deliver 4:30 p.m., dinner served around 6:00 p.m., cake cut around 7:00 p.m. That’s 2 and half hours of sitting. I don’t want to go into panic mode, but concerned. The cake will be crumb coated in swiss buttercream (yours of course) and then covered in fondant. So hoping that between the buttercream and fondant they will act as insulation for the custard filling.
    This one needs to be perfect. Almond cake, with a rum custard filling and a thin layer of raspberry.

  14. Hi Gretchen.. i have seen other videos where they inserted 1 dowel through the 3 tiers.. yet in this one it was not done.. do you ever do that? Does it secure the cake better?

  15. hi gretchen
    i love all the tips and tricks you use.
    im 14 and i love all the cakes. ive tryed almost all your recipes they are just so good cant wait to see the recipes in the future
    i love your red velvet recipe i used at at halloween but instead of red i did one layer orange and one layer black and covered it in marbled fondant it was a big hit
    love your youtube channel
    from kiara

  16. Hi Gretchen! Firstly i want to say how much i love your tutorials and your passion! I have a quick question, i need to bake a tiered fondant covered birthday cake for about 60-65 people. What size layers do you suggest I make and is a 3″ deep pan ideal? Thank you so much.

    1. Hi thank you for your reply. Here in the Uk we demolish all layers of birthday cake (i do anyway). This is my nieces first birthday. How many cups of batter would go into each layer! Sorry for being a nuisance!

    2. It’s me again! I’m having no luck finding any decent priced/quality 2″ deep pans. How would I increase your recipes to suit a 3″ pan? Thank you.

      1. Dont be confused by 3″ pans
        You can use them the same as you would 2″ pans
        Just divide the batter evenly (or rule of thumb is to fill half way) and you will be fine no matter what pan size you are using

  17. While I am able to bake a basic “from scratch” cake, my future daughter-in-law has asked that I create a 4 or 5 tier pound cake wedding cake with whipped cream frosting between the layers and a bit of whipped cream frosting on the outsides of alternating layers, for their wedding. I think pound cake is extremely heavy in that height and I have no idea how to support the weight. I also am terribly concerned that we can’t fit that size cake in my refrigerator once assembled. Any suggestions?

    1. wow that’s a big cake! BUT it can be done with pound cakes sure, heavy yes but the building is the same as shown here. Just lots of dowels for support, be sure you have a secure buttercream dam, and also fridge will be necessary to keep it cold and “glued” together nothing worse than a giant cake that is getting too warm even before the reception!

  18. Hi Gretchen! Thanks for your video! I’m making my first tiered cake and your video is super helpful! I’m wondering, after the cake has been stacked, what do you do with it? Do you leave it at room temperature? Does it go back in the fridge until it’s needed? And if it goes back into the fridge, when should I get it out so that it has time to come to room temp? Thanks!!

    1. Hi You are welcome and thank you too!
      YES to fridge! Always in the fridge until just before displaying
      Usually the cake will be out on display for several hours and that is more than enough time to let it come to room temp prefect for serving

  19. I plan on making a 3 tiered cake while using fondant I just dont know if I cover it with fondant before or after I stack them? Btw love your videos so helpful:-)

  20. Hi Gretchen,
    Greetings from the UK! I’ve offered to make an 80th birthday party cake for a fantastic lady from our church and am now freaking out because I’m very much an amateur! Fruit cake is her favourite but she knows people generally prefer sponge. So of course I’ve said I’ll do both. I’m thinking I’ll stack 2 square cakes (10″ and 8″?) but am I right in thinking that the fruit cake has to go at the bottom? And should the sponge cake be Madeira? All advice gratefully received! Thank you.

  21. For a 4 tired round cake wedding cake, 6x9x12x16, I’m a little confused on the depth that should be used. I watched your video and I understand that you only used 2 cakes in the video but each tier is usually made up of 3 cakes….so the 16 ” would be 3/ 16 ” cakes but I’m confused about the depth. In the video, it looks like you cut the largest tier, think it was 10 ” in half. …and possibly not as deep as the rest? The rest of the cakes did not look like they were cut. I know I can use either 2 ” or 3″ deep pan and fill to what I need but I’m not sure from the video how deep should each layer be? What is ideal? Many thanks!

    1. I prefer to cut my cake in half to get the layers, some people like to bake the layers separate
      Its up to you how many layers you want inside your cakes really… I typically use 3.
      However I understand your confusion then, since 2-8″ cakes cut in half will be 4 layers- so it may be best to just bake all the layers separate or use 4 layers (Coming from a commercial bakery I am in the habit of baking tons of cake and having extra all the time- yes my freezer is packed with cake )

    2. Ok, so I can cut the layers, or bake the layers separate. I’m still wondering how deep or how many inches you like each layer to be after its baked separate or cut in half BEFORE you stack? 1″, 2″ ….? Thanks so much for taking the time to answer questions, such a great opportunity to learn!

  22. Love your videos and recipes! Is there any way we can see the video of you dong the three tiered stacked wedding cake with roses and Swiss dots? I love that one!

  23. Gretchen, I loved your How to make a 3 tiered wedding cake video. I am making a wedding cake for my son’s wedding and I am interested in freezing the cake layers. Once baked and cooled, then you freeze. When you pull out of hte freezer to ice and decorate do you wait unti they thaw or proceed as soon as you take the layers out?

  24. Hi Gretchen, I am going to make a 3 tiered wedding cake for my granddaughter’s wedding in June. She wants yellow dough and Chocolate Mousse filling. I am a chef but not even close to being a wedding cake maker. I am so worried about Chocolate Mousse for a filling since it’s so light and airy. I would need a very dense recipe, (perhaps gelatin?) and the cake will be sitting out in a room (with air conditioning for a number of hours. I also need a recipe for a yellow cake, the best you can recommend, and of course how much I would have to make. The tiers are 6×3, 9×3, & 12×3, and I will be slicing each tier into 3 layers (lots of Mousse!!! I welcome any suggestions you may have, since you are very well educated. Please help!!! Thank you.

  25. This is going to be so useful. Haven’t found anything on a uk website and I’m charged with making daughters wedding cake in Dec. Still worried about choices – carrot cake for bottom, lemon for middle and traditional fruit for top – that is so heavy! I think I may have to encourage something else or make an extra “kitchen” cake.

  26. Wonderful video! Im going to be tackling my first 3 tiered cake next month and I found this tutorial very helpful! My only question is refrigeration and transportation. I will be traveling three hours with the cakes in a car. If I plan to use your buttercream recipe, would that survive the car travel? also is it okay to refrigerate the cakes, decorated for a day or so before the party?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi! Great! Im so happy it was helpful! YES to refrigerating the cake! I always make my wedding a day ahead so they can get nice and firm and “glued together” with the buttercream to be ready for transport.
      3 Hours is a long trip, so be sure to get it back to the refridge as soon as you get there!! Good Luck and be sure to post to My Facebook Page your finished creation!

  27. Hi Gretchen, I really loved your video of stacking cakes. Specially the parchment paper tip is indeed useful. As you have mentioned,there are some who will stack cakes which will be frosted with whipped cream. I am one of them. It will be my 1st time. But I just have two layers and it will not be out for more than 2 hrs. Also I am going to stabilize the cream. So will it be fine if I stack whipped cream cakes ? Also when the upper layer is removed for serving, will the parchment paper save the cream of the bottom layer ?

    Thanks once again for the amazing videos that you share with us. 🙂

    1. thanks! and you are welcome too!
      Whipped cream has such a high moisture content that it may dissolve the parchment paper (depending on the grade of paper) (which could be more disastrous than the icing coming off upon un-stacking)

  28. Thank you so much for the video. I started decorating cakes about a year and a half ago. I needed some advice for making larger tiered cakes. The video you provided was wonderful and answered all of my questions. Thank You!

  29. I used your recipe for yellow cake and it turned out wonderful!! I have to make a 3 tiered cake for my Baking Final Exam in the coming weeks…
    I’m kind of nervous but your video helped me feel better about doing it! 😀

  30. Hi Gretchen! Thank you so much for this blog it’s my go to for basically all things baked!! In the video you mentioned to not leave the crumb coat cake in the refridge for too long because it will sweat. Is this just before the final coat and then it’s ok to put final cake in refridge. And also if it does begin to sweat what can be done at that point? I love in a very dry west Texas climate but I’m making 3 tiered grooms cake for my cousin in very humid east Texas. So I’m pretty worried about the differences I will encounter with this. Thank you so much for all you do to help “home bakers”.

    1. HI Great! Thanks! Im so happy to hear it! Yes you are correct, if the crumb coat gets a layer of condensation its almost impossible to get the final icing to stay put! If this does happen then you will need lots of paper towels to towel it off! (been there done that in hot humid NJ!)

  31. Good evening Gretchen

    my daughter and I are doing a 4 tier wedding cake with buttercream and was wondering if you would have to dowel from the center all of the tiers or if just doweling each tier is sufficient like in a three tier cake. I believe she is going to transport it separately and put it together when she get there. Your expert advise is greatly appreciated. Thank you

    1. HI Suzanne, I never used the dowel system that goes all the way through the cakes, I only do it as shown here, Ive transported these cakes (stacked) for a couple hours at times too, and never had a problem. I believe the dowel system you choose is just preference

  32. Hi! Loved the video! Just wondering if the directions are the same for covering a 3 tiered cake with fondant. Mostly the part after you crumb coat it, do you still put it in the fridge before fondant? Do you have to put parchment between layers if you are doing fondant? Thank you!

    1. HI Thanks! Yes I always fridge my crumb coat for fondant cover as well and yes I also do use parchment (but I suppose its not necessary) its more my habit

  33. Hi! Your tutorial is amazing! Two questions:

    1. My base layer is 16″ (4- tier celebration cake). How is the bottom layer that is on the cardboard circle “attached” to the Heavy Duty Masonite Board or Cake Drum? Concerned it will slide off and did not want to cover the foil decorated board with fondant.

    2. I am finishing the sides of the cake using the paper towel method. Which of your recipes would work best for a “Crusting Buttercream”? The Amercian style? Any suggestions instead?

    Thank you so much!

  34. HELLO! I’m catering for a wedding for the first time ! I’m super excited. But, I’ve never made a tiered wedding cake. I have a red velvet recipe but I do not know how much to add to it to have enough batter. I’m doing 10″ 8″ 6″ tier red velvet cake. I need advice before I mess up measurements! D:

    1. Most recipes yield 2- 8″ Cake layers – if that is true of your recipe you will need
      1½X recipe for the 10″ Layers
      1½X recipe for the 8″ + 6″ layers

  35. Hi, I’m making my uncles 50th birthday cake and i have never made a tiered cake but this video really helps but I was wondering g if I could do a whole chocolate cake or will the tiers sink into each other, Thankyou! 🙂

  36. Hi Gretchen, thank you for your videos and your recipes. If I want to double or triple recipes to make tiered cake, can I double the quantities of all ingredients and make it in one batch, or should I follow recipe and make each batch individually and wait to combine batter at the end? If I wait to combine batter, will my first batch of batter lose it “airy-ness” and fall flat? I just have standard home equipment and appliances, what should I do?

  37. Hi! This is a good tutorial! I just want to ask what was your crumb coat for a 3 tier wedding cake like this and what was the final frosting? Thanks you!

  38. Hi Gretchen! It’s been awhile & I forgot how much I missed you & your tutorials. ( I moved…and I know you can relate with that) Anyway, I am making a baby shower cake, which I’m sure you have seen it, it’s a gift box with the baby butt & legs on the side as if the head was in the box. I am using 3 8″ layers. Do I still stack the same way as a tiered cake with different size layers? Do you add a dowel to the center through all your cakes? I think that’s it for now! Thank you, thank you, thank you. A fan from New Jersey, now in a 55+ community & loving it~Linda

    1. YAY! I CAN relate! totally! But the important thing is you are BACK YAY!!
      I do not dowel through the center of my cakes, I use wood dowels just in each tier. But yes to stacking the same way as for a round wedding cake, the idea for building the structure is the same- its all just for support, so be sure to support where you feel necessary! Good Luck and congrats to you for being HAPPY!!! 🙂

  39. Dear Gretchen!
    I came across your Website whilst looking for some advice on SMBC as I was having issues with it under fondant. The fondant went all tacky as the cake had been in the fridge. I only chose fondant as the cake is travelling 350 km to its destination by car. And the bride, a friend, doesn’t like super sweet things. Next time I would def use a more sturdy buttercream..or just not use fondant 🙂

    Anyway, your tutorial is so detailed and full to advice and tips from a professional. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I have added you to my favourites and will be checking out your recipes.

    Best regards from Germany


  40. I’m making my own wedding cake and I wanted to do the bottom tier in white cake with buttercream frosting, then do the top tier in pineapple with cream cheese frosting. How do I do this? I’m so confused. Can you make a cake with 2 different frostings? Any help/advice would be great. Thank you so much

    1. Sure you can, but do you want your finished cake to look like it is 2 completely different cakes sitting on top of one another? If you do- GREAT! Go for it! But wedding cakes are typically iced in the same icing for a cohesive look. However there are no rules, make it what you want it to be- it’s your wedding! How about a compromise and use Cream Cheese Buttercream for the whole cake?

  41. Hi Gretchen. I am making my niece’s wedding cake in July. She lives in Seattle Washington and I live in New Mexico. I plan on baking the cake here and decorating it when I get there. What is the best way to prepare it for a 2 day drive?

  42. Hi Gretchen,

    Great video, thank you!

    Quick question. I’ve been asked to make a stacked cake with:

    bottom – Victoria sponge
    middle – Carrot Cake
    Top – Chocolate

    I’m a little bit worried that the carrot cake will be a bit too heavy for the sponge underneath. Its being transported in the car for a good 2 hours so I want to be sure it would sink!

    Thank you in advance for any help!


  43. Hi Gretchen
    Awesome video. I can’t find your blog to convert my recipe from 8″ pan to 12″ pan size. Please let me know should I 2x the recipe for your chocolate chiffon cake.

    Thank you

    1. HI I have this post here but I find it confuses people more than anything- I have to write the post on how to easily convert- but since I have no magic formula- I havent done it yet- I have to find the right wording to make it understandable
      But in the meantime
      3X recipe for 2-12″ layers

  44. Hello!
    I am making my first wedding cake in 2 weeks. I have watching your video several times. Do you think a cake separator plate would hold a 12″, 10″, 8″, and 6″ 4 tier cake? Or do you think the cake drums are better?

  45. Hello Gretchen,
    Thanks for all the recipes you share. It’s a great help for hobby bakers like me.
    I made your warm milk sponge cake(liaison) , the cake came out superb.
    I made an 8 inch cake and few cupcakes with leftover batter.
    Cupcake I frosted with SMB and kept in airtight box in room temp and they were the best thing I could taste.
    Cake I frosted with whipped cream and filled with strawberry whipped cream and kept it in fridge overnight.
    I took out 2 hr b4 serving. The cake had turned little hard. What should I do to prevent this.

    I am making my daughters bday cake on 20th November and really need guidance.
    Pls help

  46. Hi Gretchen,

    I am planning on adapting your recipe to make a two-tiered cake for my mums 60th birthday. How long would you say the cake will stay fresh? I might need to make it quite a few days in advance! And once iced do you have to keep it in the fridge?

    Thanks in advance

  47. Hello,

    I am planning to have 3-tiered cake for my moms 60th birthday. Can i use chopsticks instead of dowel rods?? Dowel rods is not available in this country???

  48. Hi Gretchen,
    I have come across this webpage as I am making a wedding cake for this Sunday. I have made many before but I recently had a disaster and I am feeling anxious now.
    The cake I’m making is 4 tiers. All vanilla buttermilk cake with salted caramel and swiss meringue buttercream layers. 6″, 8″, 10″ and 12″
    The cake that was ruined was 2 tiers (both double barrels so quite tall) it was a chocolate cake, quite light and I had all dowels in correct places plus another thick dowel the length of the cake too. It felt slightly wobbly but I thought it was so well built that it would be fine. I think the dowels wobbled about in the car and perhaps the cake wasn’t dense enough to keep them in their place.
    I am considering taking the 4 cakes separately and building at the venue but honestly I feel sick about it now. Can you offer any advice to me? I think the vanilla buttermilk recipe is more dense than the chocolate cake so I’m hoping it will be fine. I’m going to make sure it’s super cold like you suggest too. Thanks!

    1. Sounds like you know your stuff when it comes to building wedding cakes. The transport can be the worst most stressful part, so be sure to get the entire cake to the fridge for HOURS (I do overnight) before transport.
      Ive always transported stacked cakes this way and never had a problem

  49. This tutorial is amazingly helpful! I’ve never made a tiered cake before so I’m starting off a little easier with a 2 tiered cake for my cousin’s engagement party. That being said, the first few paragraphs of your post could not be more spot on and had me laughing out loud. Thanks for the awesome video!!

  50. Hi Gretchen. Watching your video again today before I begin a two tiered birthday cake . I love the Italian Merigue Buttercream but can easily use whichever one you think will be best. I am planning on applying fondant decorations . They will need to be soft as I apply them in order to conform to the cake. Any problem with that or will they get wilted from the nice soft frosting ? Ps I am also transporting this cake an hour away tomorrow .

    1. Hi Mary the Italian Buttercream is great for wedding cakes!
      The fondant decor will be fine, just be sure to refrigerate the cake after assembling and before transport

  51. I’m making my first ever tiered cake for my sister’s birthday. I want to ask you a question that I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure it out. We have friends coming over on Friday at 6:30-7:00 (p.m)and I can’t figure out about what time I should start baking!?!?! I’m using the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa powder container, fudge filling (1,2,3 tiers I’m not sure?), Chocolate buttercream icing, and I’m going to put some truffles in the cake (her favorite). But I just don’t know when to start! Morning, few hours before? Can’t wait to get baking! Thanks

  52. Thanks for your tips! Just one question. You say to refrigerate the cakes after frosting, but I’ve always been told that refrigeration dries out a cake. How do you avoid having a dry cake?

    1. Hmm, I have not ever experienced cakes being dry from refrigeration, but on the contrary sometimes they are moist from condensation. Perhaps your fridge runs very dry in which case, so the best for the conditions and equipment you have, sometimes trial and error to determine what is the best for you.

  53. Hi, I loved the video. I´m making my first 3 tier. They want the frosting to be the 7 minuite frosting, any suggestions??
    Thank you

  54. Hi Gretchen, i was wondering instead of the chocolate mouse, i want to use some whipped ganache for filling the top tier. I was wondering if you knew how much i should make and how much cream and chocolate i would need for it. Thank you

  55. Hi, i have all my tier cake tins but they’re all springform pans and not layer pans. Should i bake half of the recipe at a time in the pan or all at once? Also would this change the time it has to bake and the temperature if i should do it all at once?
    Thank you

    1. I do not like to bake cake batter that is more than 2″ (my preference) it takes longer and will tend to dry out the cake before it is fully baked (again my preference) rule of thumb: for best results do not fill pan more than half full

  56. I have to create a cake for a school project and I’m making a three tiered cake with fondant. Do you have an idea of how long it will take to just assemble that without any decorations? And if it is better to just skip the fondant all together and just frost it with buttercream? And how long can the cake sit outside of a temperature after it is assemble?

    1. How fast is really up to the speed of the decorator and the skill level, skipping fondant and doing just buttercream, again up to you, its all preference
      I had my wedding cakes out for 5 -7 hours at events with no trouble

  57. I tried to reply and tell the lady from another country that she should be able to find Trex to use in place of our shortening for your icing recipe she wanted to try. Trex is a vegetable shortening in Europe like Crisco here. I think it is available in Australia as well. I hope the comment will be posted this time just in case someone can use the information.

  58. Hi Gretchen!
    I am attempting my first two tiered baby shower cake for my sister. I was going to cover the entire two tiers with buttercream and fondant the night before. I was going to use a strawberry buttercream between the layers. I have done some research and they say not to refridgerate fondant. If i leave the cake on the counter overnight, would the buttercream get spoiled? I just dont want to risk the fondant getting ruined in the fridge. Thanks!

    1. Hi Abby, I ALWAYS refrigerate fondant cakes. Especially 2 tier ones! I think when they say DO NOT is when you are making a homemade marshmallow fondant, which can be sensitive to humidity from refrigeration.

  59. Hi Hun
    I’m making a three tier sponge cake for my friend and was wondering is 1 cake a tier (will layer them) be okay?
    And also I’ve found that strawberry jam filling seems to make the cake slide around wen crumb coating is it because I’ve put too much jam?

    1. Hi Im not really sure what you are asking me, “one cake a tier”?
      But as for the jam yes too much will make it slide

  60. Hi Gretchen! I’m making my daughter’s 1st birthday cake. I want it to be 2 tiers. Do you recommend using both the dowels and the cardboard rounds? Or just one or the other? Thanks in advance!

  61. Hello Gretchen!

    Newbie to the baking scene. Not sure if others asked above, but I am looking for a 1 batch recipe. Meaning I can pour my 6″ x 3, 8″ x 3, and 10″ x 3 batter all at once. Then when my cakes are cooled and leveled ( I agree, popping those bad boys in the freezer ahead of time is a life saver) I have everything at once. I have a very small space so making several batches takes too much time and it gets hot in my little kitchen quick and my butter cream frosting melts so fast I had a small electrical fire with fans blowing (haha!)

    My mixer can handle 12 cups I believe of batter (maybe more, but I don’t think I should push it (haha) and seeing that huge batch of OMG yummy looking butter cream frosting in your video I am so humbled. A friend asked for a Vanilla flavored cake with classic vanilla frosting. No special frills bells or whistles (thank god, I am not a fondant fan and I haven’t quite perfected my sugar flower game – damn that Sylvia Weinstock – and i just would really like your help.

    I use a basic 1-2-3-4 method but it is only for 2 9″x 2 cakes. So I end up cutting and baking then cutting and baking and it takes way more time that I would like. I am not comfortable with doubling a recipe as I am not sure it will yield the same results. I looked all over for just 1 darn recipe that can let me pour the cups necessary for each pan all at once.

    Thank you,


    1. Hi Karlene, LOL to Sylvia Weinstock and yes, I often damn Buddy Valastro since he is the one who (for me in my bakery) made my life hell! LOL
      If I am understanding you correctly, you are just looking for a larger recipe to make ONE time, rather than batches to fulfill you needs of those sized pans. That said you really will have to double any recipe you are using to cover the amount you need.
      You shouldn’t have a problem doubling recipes as long as your mixer can accommodate all the ingredients in a doubled size

  62. Hello Gretchen, thank you so much for this video! You explained everything so well! I am doing a demonstration speech for my public speaking class and decided to do it on how to make a three tiered wedding cake. Your video is a great reference for me! I have made a wedding cake once before, but it was one of those cupcake cakes, not a regular tiered cake. Would you be alright with me taking screenshots of your process and using it in a slideshow to accompany my speech?

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