Welcome to the Cake Decorators Q&A

asked July 31st 2021

Four tier Wedding cake advice please

I have been asked to make a 4 tier round wedding cake. The tiers will be 11", 9", 7", 5" and each tier will be 5 inches deep, hopefully made up of 3-4 layers.

My question is whether each tier - especially the bottom tier - will need strengthening with a cake board in the middle of each tier, (in addition to dowels which will be used to support each tier).

When I have searched for this information on the internet the rule seems to be that for 'standard' cakes 4" deep this isn't necessary, but for tall 6" cakes it is. But this cake falls right in between that at 5" deep. So any advice as to what I should do please?

Also, I have never made a 4 tier wedding cake before (3 tiers was my largest). All the tiers will be madiera sponge cakes and I am having neightmares that the bottom tier will collapse under its own weight + icing, or under the weight of the other 3 tiers?

In the past I have just had 4 wooden dowels in each tier, supporting the tier above which is on its own cake board. Will this be sufficient for a 4 tier, all sponge wedding cake? Your advice about this as well would be very welcome.

Thank you πŸ™‚


Personally, I don't add a card in the middle of a three-layer cake. However, in the case of four layers, it does help with cutting regular size portions instead of one deep portion which then requires cutting again at the point of serving.

Dowelling is a must to ensure stability if the tier is to be stacked under other tiers. Paul uses a nine dowel system to ensure totally secure stacking no matter what height the cake structure is.

In the case of double-barrel cakes, a separating card or drum is essential to maintain strength and stability, coupled with a nine dowel support system for each tier. Paul has tutorials on double barrel cakes and how to dowel and stack them.
See tutorials here:

Covering a Double Barrelled

Stacking Cakes

You might find stacking two x two tiers will be less stressful than stacking all four tiers together. It is better to allow a set up time for all four tiers at the venue.
Four tiers x five-inch cakes will be extremely heavy so thought should be given to how you will move, transport, and set up the structure.

Hope this helps to answer your question. Please post back if you need more information.

ps: I am unable to greet you by name as you do not appear to be displaying your username. πŸ™‚


Hi madeitwithlove,

Thank you for your help. I have edited my profile so it shows my name now.

I'm intending to go with 3 layers (ie each cake @ 1.5inches deep, plus filling and icing = @5") if possible, so in that case, I won't need a card in the middle of any of the tiers. But I'll bear in mind what you say about using one if I need to go to 4 layers.

The video on Stacking Cakes is very helpful. I'll definitely be adding more dowels in this cake and in future.

When you say 'stacking two x two tiers will be less stressful' do you mean for transporting? I was planning to take the cake in two parts - two bottom tiers stacked in one box, two top tiers in another box - to cut down on assembly. Or are you saying it would be better to take all four tiers separetly and assemble the whole thing at the venue?

The cakes themselves will be relatively plain, edible lace on bottom and 3rd tiers, and pearl swags on the others. I've done sugar flower bouquets as the main decoration and these will be added once the four tiers are assembled.

Edible lace is a whole other learning curve for me. I've made the lace but it's so soft I can forsee problems getting it up against the cake sides neatly. This week I will be practising trying to get a stiffer lace like the ones I see in the videos and decorating a few dummy cakes.

Thank you again,


Hi Sharon

Yes, stack two tiers each together and transport in two tall boxes. Assemble them altogether at the venue. No stress then! especially as you decorations are simple, which is really useful.

Lace can be dried in 100c oven or make a few days in advance and dry at room temperature. Unfortunately because it contains glucose, it will be affected by humidity but it will stiffen, give it a couple of coats. I find the room temperature lace is much nicer than oven dried but both work for me.

With the flower bouquets, I tend to make little marks on the icing as assembly guides. It just helps sometimes to keep the cakes facing the way you intended them to be 😁

You’re doing the right thing by practicing on dummies. If you get problems or niggles, just post back. πŸ™‚


Thanks for your advice and encouragement madeitwithlove. I feel more confident about what I am planning now, and very relieved to have someone as helpful as yourself to get back to if I need more help.

Kind regards, and best wishes,

7 Day FREE Trial