DIY Cake Month: To tier or not to tier?
After you’ve gathered a few design ideas, looked at pan shapes, and determined the number of servings, the next question you’ll need to answer: Stacked, sheet, or tiered? Why is this important? Not only does it determine the overall design of the cake(s), it affects other choices as serving plates/trays and building materials. The tier style will also determine the kind of cake you’ll need. Some kinds of cakes, such angel food, are too light to be used in cakes that are are decorated and stacked or carved into unique shapes.
The basic types:
Sheet cake: A single flat cake, usually rectangular. [image: Victor Benes]
Stacked cake: Multi-levels of cake, stacked on top of each other. These cakes are sometimes separated by a hidden support system that prevents the cakes from caving in and keeps the layers in place. Many, however, are held together with dowels and are stacked directly on top of each other.
Tiered cake: Multi-levels of cake separated by columns or other structural elements with space in between levels. [image: Cater It Simple @ flickr]
Cake Density: When considering your cake tier style, the next thing is to work out what kind of cake is going to work best for your design. Light, airy cakes (not good for cake-on-cake stacking or heavy decoration): angel food, sponge, chiffon. Mid-density, all purpose cakes (can be stacked but will need support): basic butter batters, genoise. Heavy (great for stacked, carved, and heavily decorated): Pound, fruit cake, carrot cake, pumpkin. [Note: many mid-density cakes can be made heavier by altering the ingredients. We'll get to that in another post.]