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.
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
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.
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.
Cheap, easy, effective cake supports.