Using straws for cake supports

straw cake supports

There has been a lot of discussion lately about what supports to use inside a stacked or sculpted cakes. Some use the wilton plastic tubes, some use dowels, some use bubble straws, some use a combination of all three or some even use an elaborate set up of specialty stacking systems… to each their own.

You can watch my video on how I use straws for cake supports or you can read the rest of this blog post :) Cake support guide HERE

I am a self-taught decorator so I can’t say which is the “proper” way of doing things but I can say that I have tried everything. I started out with the wilton dowels (so freaking expensive and hard to cut! Then I tried wooden dowels (my wire cutters always end up “smooshing” the ends so they are not flat). Then I tried bubble straws (fat straws made for bubble tea). The ones I could find locally where very thin and bent when I tried to insert them into my chilled cakes… I always refrigerate my cakes before delivery so this was an issue…

One day while shopping at my local restaurant supply store (cash and carry) I saw some straws that looks fatter than drinking straws but not quite as fat as bubble straws. They were called “fat straws”… well-named don’t you think? I believe they are milkshake straws. I bought a box of 500 for about $6 and decided to give them a try.

straw cake supports

I spaced them on my cake like I would wooden dowels, they take up about the same amount of space. I put three or four in the very center and evenly space them as I move out towards the edge. I think I put my straws closer to the edge of where the cake sits than most do because if you don’t, its easy for your cake to become unsupported and collapse. Remember make sure each straw is about an equal distance away from the other, so the weight of the cakes are distributed evenly.

Straw support Guide

straw support guide

When I cut my straws, I measure the center of the cake, mark with my fingernail and then cut. I use this as my guide for all the other straws. If you change straws each time you cut, you will gradually get off your measure and have a crooked cake. Also, if you put in a straw and it sticks up a little or is a little short, do not trim the straw! It means your cake is not level. No worries! Keep putting in your straws and keep them all the same length and then when you put the cake on top, push the fondant down a little to close the gap or pipe a border.

measuring cake straws

measuring cake strawsmeasuring cake strawsmeasuring cake strawsmeasuring cake straws

Once all the straws are inserted, I stack my cakes. I only deliver cakes that are stacked that are three tiers or less. If they have more, then I will put a dowel down the center or stack on site. Stacking on site is always safer if your design allows. I also always deliver cakes that are chilled overnight in the fridge so the cakes are very sturdy. I typically deliver about an hour before the ceremony so by the time the cake is cut, it has come to room temp.

I hope this tutorial has helped clear up any qualms you may have had about using straws for supports. It is all I use in my cakes, even my sculpted and super tall cakes. The key is to just use enough, keep them level, make straight cuts and chill your cakes.

cake stacked with straws

Cheap, easy, effective cake supports.

  • Ida Bondø Lee-Wright

    Hi, that’s such a great idea! I’ve been wondering about purchasing pricey dowels or not for my sons two tiered Christening cake. One question though – do you still put the cakes on individual cake boards? Or is there no need? Mine will be two tiered (perhaps three) with madeira bottom then madeira or chocolate sponge. Hope to hear from you:-)

    • artisancakes

      Yes you need boards, otherwise the dowels will just slice through all the cake. Each cake tier always needs its own board

      • Ida Bondø Lee-Wright

        Thank you so much for swift response! Will do that then, don’t want to risk it collapsing! X

  • Valeria Nascimento

    Hi! What a lovely cake! Do you make the flowers?

    • artisancakes

      Thank you and yes I did make the flowers :)

  • jenbos20 .

    Hi Elizabeth….Love that cake..how did you do the little bubbles/balls to make them look so beautiful? Re the straws…I went to use some the other day & couldn;t work out whether to leave or cut off the pointy end :( Did the straws you use have a pointy end?? If using a central dowel..do you get special “food safe” long dowels from somewhere as most of the wooden dowels are only the short skewer length ones…or do people use dowels from a hardware store?? ( which I assume would not be food safe). Please excuse my ignorance…am only learning all these things now & your help has been amazing! Thanks again.

    • artisancakes

      The balls are hand rolled and then dusted with pearl dust
      I don’t use bubble straws, I use fat drinking straws. They don’t have a point end. You don’t want anything with a pointy end, you need them to be flat. People use regular dowels from the hardware store and are perfectly safe. It’s the same wood as a skewer Good luck!

      • jenbos20 .

        Thank you so much Elizabeth fir your reply , ..very much appreciated!

        • artisancakes

          no problem!

  • Jasmine

    Hi Elizabeth
    I have just started using the fat straws too, I’m just wondering if there is a weight limit for them? Can you use them for 7/8 tier cakes or do they need additional support?
    Thank you x

    • artisancakes

      I would not go more than 4 tiers. Any more than that I would use more substantial supports

      • Jasmine

        Thank you! What would you use as the more substantial supports? We have fewer options here in the UK :(
        Thanks again x

        • artisancakes

          I am not sure but I know the UK is a massively popular area for cake decorating. I would call up any cake decorating supply store in the area and ask what they recommend <3 good luck!

  • Helen

    Hiya, I’m very new to cake making and recently made a 2 tiered cake for my niece. Unfortunately I thought I needed to “glue” the top tier cake board onto the lower one as I didn’t know otherwise. Then when I removed the top layer cake on the cake board it pulled the icing off of the top of the lower cake. Is there a way that I can avoid this for the next one I attempt please? Many thanks, Helen xx

    • artisancakes

      Don’t glue it next time

  • Lyndall

    How on earth does the fondant not sweat from being chilled??? Mine go all sticky when I chill them…

    • artisancakes

      It does get sticky but then it goes away once it comes to room temp and does not damage the cake or decor

      • Godiva

        Do you have a commercial fridge? I wonder if cooling my cakes would prevent some of the sagging and bulging I’ve been experimenting.

        • artisancakes

          I have a separate fridge for chilling my cakes but it is not commercial. Just a freezer less residential fridge. :)

          • Godiva

            Thanks so much! I have a dedicated fridge, but have always been afraid to put my finished cakes out of fear that condensation would ruin it. Guess it’s time to experiment.

  • Heather Benavidez

    This was extremely helpful! Thank you!

  • Lisa Boorman

    fantastic tutorial thank you I’m self taught and have been asked to do a stacked cake and was wondering what to use for support so finding you is a godsend. I was a bit nervous as i’ve never done a stacked cake before but with your tutorial I feel a lot more confident.

    • artisancakes

      Don’t forget the boards underneath the cakes :) good luck!

  • Bettina Dwyer

    I have used bubble straws for ever and have more than once cast a look sidelong at, what we call in Australia, thickshake straws. They’re the ones that McDonalds use for their drinks here in Oz. Great to know that they work just as well as I can only get the bubble straws, online, from overseas! AND THEY”RE MUCH CHEAPER TOO!!!! WHoot!

  • vahiné island

    waw!!once again thanks a lot for sharing your experience;
    i ve already heard about this but wasnt sure how to proceed exactly:your video is really helpful!!
    some questions though/you say you remove straws before cutting cake?? how do you ?
    sorry for the silly question,but i can t figure out how you can remove them as long as they are inserted into the cake!!
    in the video,it seems you don t use any center dowel.i thought it was a must -do for a 3 tier cake(but i ve never done any yet!!lol!!)
    last questions:could you plse share what cake board you use for this cake(it seems really sturdy)?
    and what do you put in the car under the cake to avoid it to slide?
    thank you very much for being so generous with us!!i hope to be half as good as you are in cake decorating!!
    all the best
    vahiné island

    • artisancakes

      I don’t use any center dowels, the venue removes the straws with pliers or scissors or even their fingers when it is time to cut the cake. I use wooden cake boards on the bottom and cardboard cake boards under each tier.

      • vahiné island

        thank you very much,Lisa,for your answer,your tips are precious!!
        happy caking!

        • vahiné island

          oups!!forgot to tell that your cake is just gorgeous!!!

  • Anny Bakes

    Hi. Wow. Chilling fondant covered cakes! Can you tell me what brand of fondant you use? Thank you!

    • artisancakes

      I make my own, it’s called LMF fondant. Just google it and you can use the recipe too :) I’ve posted it for free for anyone to use

      • Heather Benavidez

        How much coco do I add to your recipe to make it chocolate?

  • Fiona Jane

    I thought chilling cakes in the fridge makes the fondant sweat and sticky? Have never tried it myself because of his reason. Please can you advise? Thanks.

    • artisancakes

      Yes they will sweat and get sticky but it eventually goes away. It’s never been a problem for me and is worth the temporary stickiness

  • Anna Neubauer

    Thanks for sharing your techniques! I love your tutorials – I just made a standing figure with your help :)
    I’m going to make my first wedding cake and I’m a nit nervous about stacking the three tiers… Aren’t the straws distracting when you cut and eat the cake? How do you cut stacked cakes? do you use also cake boards under each tier? Do I need to use those techniques if I use only cakes without a cream inside?
    I just realised I never really watched how the bride and the groom cut the cake and now there are sooo many questions :)
    Thanks for your help!
    Anna

    • artisancakes

      You should look up some tutorials on how to stack cakes etc. Those are a lot of questions :) Straws are removed before cutting. You unstack the cake before you cut. Yes boards under each tier. Yes you need to use those techniques. Cakes are heavy and WILL collapse without proper support. whew!

      • Anna Neubauer

        Thanks for your answer – I really appreciate your help!

  • Natasha Morton

    So I’m extremely new to fondant. I’ve been using your recipe for the marshmallow one and I love it. My question is, when you say chill cake, you mean in the fridge covered w/fondant? I’ve heard so many do’s and don’ts about whether you can place fondant in the fridge. I tried once and when I took it out it was crying…literally. lol

    So now I’m just confused. :)

    Thx for the info!

    Natasha

    • artisancakes

      Why where you crying? I put all my cakes in the fridge. The worst that happens is they get a little sticky but that goes away once they warm up. It just makes it easier to cover with fondant. All professionals chill their cakes so I’m not sure who told you not to. The only issue is when it is very humid outside, your cake can get really wet and sticky but that has to do with the weather. If you live in a humid area, I would suggest getting a de-humidifier if you make a lot of cakes.

      • Natasha Morton

        Oh ok, thanks! I wasn’t crying the fondant on the cake was. lol

      • Anna Marie Skeens

        I live in Florida, if I am preparing the cake in air conditioning would I still need a dehumidifier? Also is there anything you can do to prevent bubbles from forming between your cake and the fondant? Thanks

  • Monica

    Liz, thank you for sharing all this tips! I have been doing cakes over a year now, and it amazing how I learn something new every day!

    • artisancakes

      I was in the same shoes for a long time, doing things the hard way! Glad the tut helped you!

      • Monica

        Love your fondant tut too! I love the way it came out! Thanks again!!!

  • Kate

    Thanks for sharing your stacking technique! I have only used bubble straws in the past but then again it’s not often I make a tiered cake. Love your finished cake – amazing colors.

Published on: 6 August 2013
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