Cake supports Pro Cooking and Baking Tips and Tricks: Cake supports
By W.DeBord on Tuesday, April 18, 2000 - 08:22 am: Edit

I find it easiest/best to use wood dowels in place of Wiltons' plastic legs in situations where they are not exposed.

Wilton has a cake set that is white plastic plate for the cake with clear plastic legs. Where the legs fit into the cake plate it's aprox. 3/4" round female part that you insert plastic legs into. Instead of using wilton legs which can be taller than desired, I use 3/4" dowels instead. Then I cut them to the right height using a plumbers pipe cutter.

The advantage is it's stronger that usual thin dowel support most of us were taught to use. Also the length/height between layers can be much greater or much smaller than the length of the plastic legs.

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, April 18, 2000 - 01:11 pm: Edit

If you look closely to the clear twist colums , you will see that there is a flat surface that bonds it to the bottom for the female part. This is the criticle part of tthe piece. It is designed to prevent any slight leaning. The dowels work fine but if the cake were actually knocked the dowel would probably break out of the hole. we cut the colums all the time with a mitre box. just my 2 cents. do you cover the dowels with anything?

By momoreg on Tuesday, April 18, 2000 - 03:35 pm: Edit

Occasionally, customers request those white (ionic) pillars, much to my disapproval, and I find that they don't hold very securely onto the plates. I'm always worried about someone knocking the cake. So I end up securing it with a hunk of fondant. Is there something I should know about those pillars, or are they supposed to be that loose?

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, April 18, 2000 - 05:22 pm: Edit

if your talking about the posts between two plate,
they are made for one time use if that.That's funny, I use a hunk of fondant or just glue them. We do alot of fifteens here in the hispanic community and use more plastic than cake.These cakes are usually more elaborate and expensive than wedding cakes.

By tj on Tuesday, April 18, 2000 - 05:37 pm: Edit

i used to make wedding cakes for people on budget, using bakery crafts SPS system.(single plate seperator).it is much more stable than wilton`s ,cause the pillar acts as a support and run in to the cake itself.very stable ,very secured pegs to push in under wilton`s plates(which are ugly any way).and for stacked tears i use a plaind wood dowels cut to the hight of each tear.i think wilton makes those wood dowels as well as the plastic ones...

By momoreg on Tuesday, April 18, 2000 - 07:03 pm: Edit

There is only one style of pillar by Wilton that I like. It's called something like 'invisible columns', and it's a plastic tube (which can be used in place of dowels. They can be cut to any height , but they themselves are only 6 or 7 inches long. I like to create the effect of a floating tier, and surround (hide) the pegs with decorations. It's a cool effect.

By tj on Tuesday, April 18, 2000 - 09:50 pm: Edit

i like to do pillars out of molded sugar. its the best , i think , since its an edible display, and its not as cheap looking as even the fansiest plastic can actualy mold all kinds of figures to act as pillars, like people, cherubs, dolphines, fish, animals ,etc.make your own 2 part silicone molds.and use them for ever...i fill it with a mixture of granulated sugar and water.let it cure for 2 days ,then its hard like a rock.pastillage will work well also.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, April 19, 2000 - 08:40 am: Edit

I think momoreg is talking about the same item as me, but the legs are 9" long. It's called crystal clear cake divider set by wilton #301-G-9450, p. 170 in the 2000 yearbook.

Panini I can't imagine we are talking about the same product. Your discription doesn't fit, there is not a "flat surface that bonds to the bottom part" at all?

This is a very sturdy way. The only thing that could go wrong would be if you put so much weight on the supports it would break the plastic cake plates. No cake could weigh that much. There is no need for any other support items in the cake.

I haven't ever tried to cut the plastic PILLAR legs before. The simple little pipe cutter takes up no room, doesn't scare me and I can be very acurate cutting.

P.S. I haven't had a person ask for a cake showing pillars since the early 80's, thank goodness! I used to cover them with frosting or royal or gum paste, never let the plastic be seen, yuk.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, April 19, 2000 - 04:58 pm: Edit

no were not,I'm sorry, the only plates I use is a wilton product, flat white sturdy plate that accepts the clear twist colums 7.5" and 9". I dont have #'s I order by cases. I have found them to be the sturdiest yet.
We are at 60% stacked and 30% tiered. 10% pedestal. The fad last year was to elevate the cakes 1" between each layer. Thanks M.S.
This year we are selling alot of handmade flowers,candy bows,very simple and elegant. Know one knows how much influence people like Vera Wang and other designers have on cake fads.
We are now officially booked for May,June,July!!Hurray!!!!

By W.DeBord on Thursday, April 20, 2000 - 08:13 am: Edit

How would you handle this? We had a tasting (for the whole meal) two weeks ago, for a wedding May 20. The taste test all went great, but she didn't like the rolled fondant or design I had proposed (like I thought she would?). Anyway the entire month of May and June are all out he--, min. of 65 hr. work week.

No one is concerned about finishing the details of wedding, so should I? I'm thinking if they ask for anything with detail I'm just going to say I can't at this late date, only something simple. How late will you let someone get to their date with-out a design being picked out? I know it's management who is letting this happen continuely. Is it wrong to take a stand with the bride when it's really poor mangement?

By Chef_haji (Chef_haji) on Thursday, April 20, 2000 - 09:27 am: Edit

as it goes in this business we sometimes find that we have to be the management and do things that are above and beyond call. Try to accomodate them remember your reputation is on the line not the management. More important we as culinary professional have to adapt too things that happen at the last minute, its stressful, unfair but we chose this life it didnt chose us.
Lastly, the general public has no concept of what it takes to prepare mass meals, most think that we can reach in our culinary caps and develop a meal that is perfect for their events

By Toots (Toots) on Thursday, April 20, 2000 - 01:26 pm: Edit


I like your idea of making "pillars" out of molded sugar, my question is can you give me instructions on how to make silicon molds? Do you have a URl, I would love to see pics of these cakes.


By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, April 20, 2000 - 07:19 pm: Edit

Do you have all the tools you need to design the cake? Pictures,prices,etc.
This is obviously a concern to you or you would not have mentioned it. Call the bride, take 30 min now, and design her cake. Don't fall to the insubordination of you management.If you booked the cake a month ago or next week it will still take the same amount of time. You're a professional, don't short change the bride. Most of them have an idea in mind, tell her she has a couple of days to start clipping things she likes and get her in for the order.You know it's the right thing to do.

By Raine on Thursday, April 20, 2000 - 09:35 pm: Edit

It,s not always a matter of supplies.Sometimes it has to do with timing.A cake can take 1-6 hours (give or take)I would like to know as soon as possible. It makes a difference to me if can go home at 4 0'clock or 10 o'clock.
As chef haji says "the general public has no concept of what it takes to prepare..."
That's just my opinion,however selfish or unprofessional it may sound.
I'll bet if management would think about it in terms of overtime...

By W.DeBord on Friday, April 21, 2000 - 07:52 am: Edit

I'm trying to be professional. I do rise to handle situations. This is sort of the calm before the storm. If I don't do this now (if they have handmade flowers) it will take time away from someone elses project who did plan ahead.

I'm salary so...

This is just typical, and makes me very frustated with management. I need to figure out the best way to handle this so it doesn't keep happening!!!!

So when the boss gives gets the details a week before the wedding do I tell her "I can not accomplish this at this time, I wish you could have discovered what they wanted in a timely manner. I'm sorry but you'll have to get the bride to pick out a simplier cake"?

Or bail out the situation as usual and call the bride today and let this happen over and over making me crazy?

The boss isn't going to change/learn unless their butt is caught in the ringer. This is not happening because boss is over worked and can't find the time. They also could deligate responsiblity.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Friday, April 21, 2000 - 08:03 am: Edit

Is California the only state where an employer can't label a person as salaried simply to avoid paying overtime? Here an employee must supervise at least 2 people and spend more than 50% of their day doing managerial duties in order to be exempt from overtime -- and overtime starts at 8 hours in a day, regardless of how many you work in a week.

Regarding bailing out management, when I first got out of high school I worked in a warehouse as a shipper/receiver. Our sales people were notorious for making errors and I would usually call several customers a day when their order didn't 'feel' right. I figure I caught 2 to 3 mistakes per day, a significant savings to the company when thousands of pounds are being shipped hundreds of miles. I understand what you're going through, because every day I wanted to say screw it and start letting the errors slide through. Especially after two years without any apparent crackdown by management to make them do better work. But, my loyalty was to the company that signed my check so I just kept fixing their mistakes. Of course, I bitched about it a lot and let them know how stupid I thought they were at every opportunity -- not very diplomatic, but I was younger than too. I wasn't rewarded with money, but I did get a lot of appreciation and respect from our customers.

By W.DeBord on Friday, April 21, 2000 - 08:07 am: Edit

P.S. I've mentioned that I'd need to know what they want, to the boss aprox. 3 times in two weeks, when I had bosses full attention and they acknowledged me.

Chef lets management work this way with him. But he has 5 guys to help him when he wigs out. I don't have any back-up helper. Management knows that and has acknowledged that also.

Talking/explaining to managemnet has been done before, acknowledged but no changes happen. So do I just change myself and do the managers job?

Best way to handle this?

By W.DeBord on Friday, April 21, 2000 - 08:12 am: Edit

Mikeh they pay overtime, by law. It's HALF of what hourly rate would be!!!!!! So when I put in the extra effort working overtime, I suddenly become half as valueable.

I then make less then a waitress (about dish washer rate)to make their wedding cake etc...

By Raine on Friday, April 21, 2000 - 06:33 pm: Edit

It's frustrating ,especially with no assistants.
I say yes, do the managers job.The customer will have a better understanding of what is expected of them and how important it is for them to be organized. Your manager sounds like he's not concerned ,and this could possible be impressed upon the bride.Therefore it's not a big issue to her either.
On the up side. It sounds as if your boss has a lot of confidence in you, and Knows you will be able to handle any inconveniences.Which makes negotiating time off,vacations,pay raises,etc.much easier.You give a little,you get a little

By Panini (Panini) on Friday, April 21, 2000 - 11:01 pm: Edit

No imput from me, I'm just trying to figure out how sales people or whoever sell your weddings. I don't think I know of anybody who just waits to see what the boss has sold. I just have never had any confidence in anyone to sell my products, unless the have the tools I've given them.I don't know , I feel for you, I guess? I'm in no way being critical or aloof, I'm just wondering how your property does business. I'm pretty familiar with clubs, worked for CCA .

By Dominique (Dominique) on Saturday, April 22, 2000 - 03:26 am: Edit

DeBord, I had a problem with this too for a bit. But now at my hotel the catering managers KNOW that the bride and/or groom must talk to me about the cake. They will give me the phone number and I'll call and make an appointment for the couple to come and see me. The managers like this, because they feel it takes a load off of their backs, and I like it because then I KNOW what the couple wants, I don't get committed to something I can't do, and I don't have to depend on the caterers as a go-between... and my favorite catch was that the chef insisted on them giving me a 10% commission in exchange for dealing with the public since it wasn't really part of my duties. They were happy enough with that, (they took it out of the waitstaff's gratuities for the function. )
Perhaps if you approached them with a similar idea it could work out to your benefit??
Dominique :)

By Panini (Panini) on Saturday, April 22, 2000 - 05:13 pm: Edit

a percent commission is a very common thing in my area.

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