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do i need dowels for a 4 layer cake

Do I Need Dowels For a 4-Layer Cake?

Nowadays, you see tall cakes being the centre of various occasions and celebrations. As elegant as they look, these tall cakes need a support system. 

In fact, every multi-tiered cake has dowels inside to keep them stable. So, you decided to make a 4-layer cake.

You’re wondering, why do I need dowels for a 4 layer cake? 

Yes, you absolutely need dowels for a 4 layer cake. And you need dowels because it’s what will keep your tall cake stable. A 4-layer cake will collapse without dowels to the side. The layers will be squished by the total weight. And dowels keep the cake layer stable and retain shape. 

If you’re building a cake with more than 2 layers, you’ll dowel. In this article, we’re going to discuss how to make use of dowels in tall cakes.

Tune in!

Why Do I Need Dowels for a 4-Layer Cake?

Cakes are in nature, are aerated and soft round structures. So to stack one cake on another for a 4 layer cake, you definitely need dowels. 

Dowels may seem like a strange idea. Why insert something inedible inside a cake, am I right? 

What if it causes a hazard during cutting cake and whatnot? Well, the thing here is, dowels are an integral part of a multiple-layered cake. 

4-layered cakes tend to be quite heavy with icing and fondants. To keep the structure in shape and stable, you need to insert a few dowels inside each layer of the cake. 

Why Do I Need Dowels For a 4-layer Cake? 

You know by now that you need dowels for your 4-layer cake. And it’s completely reasonable to ask why. 

So, why do you need dowels for a 4 layer cake?

Because cakes are aerated solid with many holes for air bubbles. Which isn’t compatible to hold much weight. When you add dowels, it will create a stable internal structure. This structure will prevent cakes from collapsing and the layers gradually getting compressed.

A cake is a portion of soft and sweet food. Softer the cake, more people love it. As time progressed, during occasions and celebrations, people went for tall cakes. It looks more aesthetic and serves a lot of people as well. 

I mean, they do look much more elegant and open doors for creativity more than huge rectangular cakes. But building tall cakes has its own disadvantages. Because as you keep on adding more weight, the cake either gets squished or collapses.

Dowels take away the risk of a beautiful 4-layered cake from getting ruined by its own weight and gravity. 

How to Dowel a 4 Layer Cake

First things first gather these tools to prepare for dowelling a 4-layer cake.

Tools to Dowel a 4 Layer Cake: 

Here are the tools you’ll need at hand – 

  • Cake Leveller
  • Scale 
  • Cake Board (About half-inch thick, 9,7 and 5 inches in diameter)
  • Edible Marker (For marking the dowels)
  • Dowels (Plastic ones are better)
  • Hacksaw
  • Sandpaper (for smoothening the dowel top)

Step1: Prepare the Dowels 

Take a dowel and measure it against the height of each cake. Keep the dowels a bit shorter than the cake height. You don’t want the dowels to stick out of the cake as the cake gets compressed. 

Using a hacksaw, cut the dowels into 5 equal pieces for the bottom layer of the cake. 

Then with sandpaper, smooth the dowel where you cut it. 

Step 2: Prepare the Cake Boards

First, take the baseboard, and make sure it’s half-inch thick. Clean and cover the base with a fondant. 

Then prepare the rest of the cake board on top of which you’re going to place the cake. 

The dowels and the cake board will create a solid structure to hold the cake in shape. 

Step 3: Insert the Dowels Inside the Cake Layers

Take a scale and carefully mark five points where you’ll insert the dowels. Use the edible marker to mark the spots.

Now insert the dowels. 

For the second and third layers of cake, you’ll need three dowels. Place them in a way that creates a triangle. 

Step 4: Set Up a 4 Layer Cake

Put some buttercream or ganache on each cake board. This will stick the cake to the board. 

Now carefully place the bottom layer of cake on the baseboard. Then place the 2nd layer of the cake board and then place the second layer of cake. 

Make sure the layers are placed in the center. Otherwise, the weight will not be distributed evenly on the dowels. 

Finally, place the rest of the layers of cake. And decorate as you wish. 

Now you have a beautiful 4 layer cake with dowels that will support the layers.

Can You Make A 4-Layer Cake Without Dowels?

If you are making a 4-layer cake for home events, you can build a 4-layer cake without using dowels. There are a few tips and tricks using which you can make a 4-layer cake. 

But if you’re making a 4-layer cake for a special occasion, you’ll have to use something in place of dowels. Because the cake mostly definitely needs support. 

4 Layer Cake Without Dowels

First, let’s talk about a 4-layer cake that’s home-baked. You can use any oil of your liking to bake the cake.

However, if you want some nutty flavor from your cake, you can use peanut oil for baking as well.

Tip 1: Make the Layers Thin

Thin layers will add less weight to the bottom layer. Hence we suggested it’s more suitable for home-baked cakes. 

Cut a cake into 2-3 homogeneous layers and then build your cake gradually by adding ganache or icing

Tip 2: Keep the Bottom Layer Thick

It’s general physics. If the bottom part of a tall structure is big and heavy, it will be able to withstand the gravity and weight of the top layers.

You can either trim a cake into its 2/3rd size and use it as a bottom layer. Or you can horizontally divide the cake into 2 pieces.

Make sure the top of the bottom layer is even. Using a leveller is a big help for ensuring an even surface on each cake layer. 

Tip 3: Use Thick Consistency Ganache in Between Layers

Whether you use ganache, buttercream or icing, ensure a thick consistency. A simple trick is to cool them in the refrigerator and use them when it’s cold.

A thick consistent frosting will act as a glue to keep the layers together. It will prevent the layers from sliding off. And hold them together really well. 

Using frosting in-between layers of a cake also acts as a support for tall cakes. 

4 Layer Cake Without Dowels: A Cake Stand

If you do not want to insert multiple dowels inside a 4 layer cake, a cake stand will be your best choice.

Cake Stand

A cake stand separately holds each cake in every layer of the stand. This way, the cake layers do not have the risk of collapsing or sliding off.

As you can see in the picture. You can creatively decorate around the cake stand to make it appear invisible. 

There are other cake stands that have a long dowel going through each layer of the cake. Which is, ultimately using a dowel for a layered cake anyway. 

But this kind of cake stand saves you from the process of preparing the dowels for each cake. 

Speaking from a professional baker’s perspective, transportation of cake layers becomes a lot easier. 

You can just assemble the cakes at the venue after setting up the cake stand. With 4-layer cakes with dowels, transportation is very sensitive and time-consuming. 

You have to be very careful with packaging, and finding an appropriate box and vehicle.

Now you know how to make 4-layer cakes with or without dowels.

However, if you want to make your dessert-making even easier, you may want to take a look at our top picks for pancake makers here.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Do I Keep My Cake Layers From Sliding?

The first hack to keep your cake layers from sliding is freezing your cake layers. Freeze the cakes for 20-30 minutes before you assemble them. That way the layers will be easier to handle. And level your buttercream and filling. A semi-thick filling will prevent the cake layers from slipping.

How Many Days In Advance Can You Make A Cake?

You can bake cakes in advance for 2 days at best. To retain the freshness and moisture, tightly wrap the cakes in a plastic sheet before freezing. As far as the cupcakes are in concern, you can bake them a day ahead. Put them in an air-tight container to refrigerate, both frosted and unfrosted.

When Should I Use Dowels In A Cake?

When you are building tall cakes with more than 3 layers, you must use dowels. They add stability to your cakes. When you stack cake layers, you are putting more weight on the bottom layer. Dowels are there to help with the weight distribution. Use dowels to build a 4-tier cake, it’ll be stable.


Now you know the answer: I need dowels for a 4 layer cake. Dowels are crucial to keep your cake stable. Especially if you’re decorating a wedding cake. 

However, do remind your customers that the cake has dowels inside. This warning is very important to evade any health hazard. 

Best of luck!


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