The Basics of Tier Stacking~Video

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In this tutorial, I will show you how to easily stack frosted cake tiers.

This popular, simple stacked construction is perfect for everything from birthday cake designs to baby shower cakes, bridal shower cakes, and more!

Whether you are going to adorn your cake with sweet accents for a child's party or add elegant sugar flowers for a wedding, you need to start with a foundation that is secure.

Basics of Tier Stacking

Stacking cake tiers can be a little intimidating at first, but it is not as difficult as you think. In this tutorial, I am going to demonstrate stacking two tiers (8 and 6 inch), and how to stabilize the structure with dowels/supports and cardboard cake circles.

*There are many ways to stack tiers, and there are all sorts of stacking structures available online. This is the simplest way for me!

Materials for Stacking Cake Tiers

I'm using a three layer 8 inch tier and a 3 layer 6" tier. (The layers of the 6" tier are thicker and therefore this is a taller tier.) These layers happen to be White Almond Sour Cream (doctored mix from our Recipes section)

Buttercream Frosting- I'm using our High Ratio recipe

2 Cardboard Cake Circles (or foam core cake circles) for support

4 bubble tea straws (or your supports of choice)

Spatula(s) of choice.

Sharp knife (used to run beneath the cake and the turntable)

Turntable (Not essential for stacking tiers but very helpful for frosting and decorating)

Long (thin) wooden skewer or lollipop stick, etc.- Used to measure the height of our bottom tier

Food coloring Pen- (Mine was americolor) to mark the height of our tier onto the wooden skewer and also onto our straws

Wilton Tip 3 or other small round tip of choice for filling in and correcting any imperfections in the icing

Viva paper towel (for smoothing over any rough spots--optional) --Hot knife method works well for this also.

Cake base or pedestal

Notes for Tier Stacking

The 8 inch tier used in this video is the same tier that you can watch me trim, fill, and crumb coat in our Crumb Coating video tutorial.

It is also the cake from our Viva Paper Towel Method of Smoothing video, if you'd like to see how we frosted it & smoothed with nice, sharp corners. 

*Make sure to chill your buttercream-frosted tiers before stacking. I tend to pop mine in the freezer for about 15 minutes (or until frosting is just firm). Just don't forget to remove from the freezer or your cake will develop condensation.

Chilling the tiers before stacking will allow you to more easily move the top tier onto the bottom, and to reposition if necessary.

*As I mentioned in the tutorial, the bubble tea straws are great for stacking 2 tiered cakes. I've only used bubble tea straws with 3 tiered cakes a few times, as I prefer to use something more substantial for heavy cakes.  

Decorating Stacked Tiered Cakes

We've decorated many tiered cakes over the years in our free cake videos. Here are just a few examples!

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  1. Thanks you so much for the wonderful video. I always seem to struggle with stacking.
    I just purchased some bubble tea straws and when I cut them with scissors they don't cut straight. I try to keep the scissors as straight as possible but I think when I snip the straw it makes them slant a bit. they are not level.
    Would you know what I am doing wrong? Thank you.

  2. I need some advice please. I am doing my first wedding cake. It is for the day after thanksgiving, and 2 hrs away. For obvious reasons, I cannot do this last minute. The tiers are made and decorated with crusting cream cheese frosting (pretty petal effect. ) The support system is already in place. Tiers are in individual boxes, with layers of plastic wrap and in freezer. I plan to take them in coolers to destination. My question is, how do you recommend the stacking and defrost? I want the layers to be as fresh as possible, but I also want to make sure the decorations hold. Should I stack while frozen or after thawing? Thank you

  3. Hi Melissa and BeBe, I have a shower cake due this Saturday and the client wants a two tier cake that serves 100 people. It leaves me no choice but to do a 12 inch 3 layer cake. Will a 3 layer of that size be stable? In your opinion, what size should the top layer be? 10 inch 3 layer or 9 inch? Thanks girls!!

  4. Hi Terri, A 12 inch three layer cake would be stable, but I think you only need to do a two layer 12 inch tier.....unless you want the look of a 3 layer tier. It will serve the same number whether it is 2 layers or 3 layers. Looking at the Wilton serving chart this will serve 56. We like to have 2 to 3 inches space beside the second tier so I would do a 2 layer 9 inch tier, this tier will serve 32. So even though your customer only wants a 2 tier, to get 100 servings you will need to add a 6 inch top tier that will serve 12. Another option would be to do a smaller tiered cake for display and another plainly decorated cake to make up the extra servings that is cut in the kitchen ( also known as a kitchen cake). Good Luck

  5. Two questions for you.I just made my first stacked cakes this past weekend.Two questions I have.One,do you wrap the cake board with anything,wax paper maybe?The board that is inbetween the two tiers.When I removed the top 6" so I could cut the bottom 8" cake the icing from top the 8"went with/stuck on the cake board.This is normal?
    Also does the bottom cake have to be on a cake board?I found it slipped around so much on my turn table while icing it.I guess a cake board is necessary if stacking THEN moving cake to serving plate?or can I move a cake to serving plate not on board and just iced,THEN decorate then stack?I need help with the order of things!!I hope I made sense!!LOL!

  6. Hi CakerJoy- Sorry for the delay! ;0) --

    Let's see...

    We do not wrap our cake boards with anything. Some people do, but we haven't had trouble with our boards softening, etc. While we don't use the special grease proof cake boards, we've tried them in the past and they do work well.. they are just a bit more $.

    For your 2nd question~ There are a few things that can help with this. I just make sure that my bottom tier is crusted before placing the top tier. When I go to separate the tiers, I have a long thin knife that I slide beneath the top tier to help reduce the chance of frosting coming off with the cake. This really seems to keep things under control. There are some decorators who will scatter sprinkles or chocolate shavings/chips, etc in the place where the tiers will be stacked to prevent sticking. If you go this route, just make sure that you still spread a dollop of frosting in the center to help keep the top tier from sliding during transport ;0)

    I do like to have my bottom cake on a cake board so that I can easily place on the turntable & move to the final plate/base. You can prevent it from sliding around on the turntable either with a smear of frosting beneath the cake board, or a square of non-slip rubber shelf liner. If you really just prefer to decorate the bottom cake on the serving plate, that is fine too..just a little trickier. You can place pieces of waxed paper just partially beneath the cake to keep the plate clean as you decorate. I hope this helps!

  7. Thanks again!I know these were such basic questions but the basics are important and I want to get it right.Yes this helps!

  8. Hi Melissa! Well, I tried again. I made a "practice" 2 tier cake (the photo is in the gallery). I have been intimidated by stacking but I put my big girl pants on and went for it.
    I used the bubble tea straws and had better luck this time as opposed to last time. My bottom tier did settle a bit more, as I saw when I removed the top tier. The straws were sticking up but just the tiniest bit, so they had no effect on the top tier. The top was straight! Yay!!
    But...even though I watched this video a (at least 5 times) and re-read questions
    and answers, when I removed my top tier, the frosting from the top of the bottom tier stuck to the cake board the top tier was sitting on. My bottom tier was crusted and I added a small amount of buttercream to the center. I let my cake come to almost room temp then took off the top tier. Should I have done this while still really cold??? Thank you..

  9. Hi, you explain everything and anything to do with cakes perfectly for me! Thank you sooo much! My question is, do I still spread a dollop of icing on top of my bottom cake before placing the second tier cake on top, if they are covered in fondant?

  10. Hi Melliekaye, Yes, you will need to spread a dollop of buttercream, royal icing, or melted chocolate. This will keep it from sliding around when you are transporting the cake. Melted chocolate is a good choice whenever you think you need extra strength.

  11. I've been making cakes for only just over a year, I never realized how much extra work I made for myself and how wrong I was doing things lol. You make making sense of direction so easy! I'm so happy I found this website and I couldn't be happier about joining!!

  12. I'm so happy that you found this video helpful, Karen! Thank you for your kind words! xoxo