How to Stack a Cake

Is there anything cooler than a ten-foot-tall cake? How do they do it, though? Whether you want to stack two cakes or are taking on the challenge of multiple tiers, there is a right way to go about it. Don’t worry, it’s not overly complicated. There are just many steps to follow.

To stack a cake, start by baking and cutting the cake into layers. Stack the layers and frost the cake. Then, insert dowels into the bottom cake. Frost over the dowels and stack the smaller cake on top. Continue this process. 

Hey! My name’s Michelle, and I am a cake baker with over ten years of experience. I love baking cakes, whether single-layer red velvet cake or a three-tiered birthday extravaganza. Regardless, I’ve discovered the best method to stack a cake, and I’m here to share how to do it!

Want to layer a cake? Then check out my comprehensive guide below!

9 Essential Steps to Stack a Cake

Let me “level” you with (get it?). Stacking a cake requires quite a few steps. But none of the steps are overly challenging or complex. After your first time, it’ll feel like a breeze. I promise.

Let’s get stackin’.

1. Bake Your Cakes

Obviously, the first step in stacking a cake is to bake multiple cakes. Your cakes can be the same size. But for tiered cakes, you will want to bake cakes of varying sizes. For example, the bottom cake might be a nine-inch cake topped with a six-inch cake.

2. Cut the Domes Off

Once your cakes have been baked and cooled, you want to remove the dome on the top to achieve a flat surface. You will not be able to successfully stack a cake without doing this. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of how to do this:

  • Set your cake on a flat surface, such as a cake stand or cutting board
  • Use a long serrated knife to saw off the dome of the cake
  • Double-check that the top is completely flat

3. Cut Cake into Layers

Now, it’s time to cut the cake into layers

I recently wrote an in-depth article on how to do this, which you can find here. 

In the meantime, here’s a quick explanation of how to layer a cake successfully:

  • Use a ruler to measure how tall your cake is
  • Decide where you’re going to cut the cake in half
  • Insert toothpicks around the cake where you plan to cut it
  • Use a long serrated knife to saw around the exterior of the cake, ensuring to cut directly on top of the toothpicks
  • Gently saw the cake in half

Here’s a great video showing how to do this. You can also use a handy cake leveler.

4. Stack the Layers

In order to start stacking your cake, you’re going to need a couple of cake boards.

You’ll need a cake board that’s the same size as your cake(s), plus a cake board that’s at least two inches larger than your cake(s).

Lay the larger cake board on a flat surface. Dab a bit of frosting in the middle. Place the smaller cake board on top of the frosted area. Then, add another dollop of frosting. Place your cake on top of the frosting.

Now, add a layer of frosting on top of the cake. This is known as the “filling.” Then, add your next cake layer on top of the frosted portion. Keep going until all of the layers of your cake have been added. Then, move on to your other cake(s) and follow the same steps.

5. Frost with a Crumb Coat and Freeze

With the layers in order, you’ll need to finish this process by applying a crumb coat.

A crumb coat is the layer of frosting that seals in the fillings and keeps crumbs at bay, ensuring you have a smooth and beautiful cake.

To apply a crumb coat, simply use your spatula to apply frosting to the top and sides of the cake. Use a bench scraper to smooth it out and ensure there are no bald spots or areas with an excess amount of frosting.

Don’t be overly concerned about how it looks – this will not be the final appearance of your cake.

Once you’ve finished the crumb coat, toss the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes or the freezer for 15 minutes.

6. Frost the Cake

Your cakes should be nice and firm now, creating the ideal structure necessary for the final frosting job. 

Add your frosting in the same way you applied the crumb coat.

Only this time, make sure that there is enough frosting to cover the entirety of the cake. There shouldn’t be any visible pieces of cake hanging around.

Use a bench scraper and a cake turntable to get the best results.

7. Insert the Dowels

Begin by using a clean cake board to gently carve out the size of the smaller cake on top of your larger cake. This will help to indicate where the stakes will be placed.

Then, place cake dowels inside the cake. You’ll need to place one in the center and a few on the perimeter. Ensure that they are placed inside the imprint from the cake board. They should be a few inches apart from one another. 

Mark the dowel with the height of the cake. Then, remove the dowels and cut the tops off. Your dowels should be the same height as your cake – not taller. Place the dowels back inside your cake.

8. Stack the Cakes

Now it’s time for the fun part – stacking the cakes.

This is the part that’s going to make your heart stop. But trust me, once you see the two-tier cake you’ve just created, your heart will start pumping again!

Place a layer of frosting on top of the dowels to hide them. Then, carefully separate your smaller cake and cake board from the larger one using a spatula or long serrated knife. 

Gently maneuver your cake on top of the larger cake, ensuring it’s smack dab in the middle. When satisfied with the position, put the smaller cake on top of the frosting and push down ever-so-slightly.

Complete these steps with additional layers if desired.

I know this can be a lot to follow along with. So, if you need some visual help, I recommend looking at this video:

9. Finish Decorating

With your layers and tiers looking like a literal dream come true, it’s time to finish the job. Add any decorations you’d like, whether simple piping along the bottom of the cake or extravagant decorations to complete an out-of-this-world theme.


As you can see, stacking a cake isn’t too tough – it just takes a lot of strategic steps. Now you know how to do it successfully but check out the frequently asked questions below before you go.

What can I use to stack cakes?

The best item for stacking cakes is cake dowels. However, some people have gotten by using regular straws. If you’re not going to use cake dowels, the second best option is larger and wider straws.

Do you need cake boards between tiers?

You must keep the cake boards on between tiers. This will ensure that the cake doesn’t sink or collapse. 

Do you have to cut the cake before stacking it?

At the very least, you’ll need to cut the top portion so that it is entirely flat. You cannot stack a cake properly if it has a “hump” on top. 

Exquisite Tiered Cakes, Here We Come!

Yes, stacking cakes is a relatively lengthy process. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be stackin’ cakes like there’s nothing to it. 

Do you stack cakes? How many tiers are you planning to create? Let’s talk in the comments below!

About Michelle
I have been a lover of sweets since day one. This led me on a self-taught baking journey starting at the age of 13. It's been over 10 years since the start of my baking adventures, and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Now, people rave about my delectable treats, whether it’s a chocolate cake or a strawberry crepe.

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