The Importance of Cake Boards

You probably spend a great deal of time considering the design and color of your cakes, and might be overlooking one of the most important foundation pieces of the cake-the cake board. A cake board is more than something you place your cake on, it can be part of the overall image and needs to be the exact right size and thickness to support the cake weight and width. Cake boards prevent your cakes from sagging, which can completely destroy a carefully prepared fondant and buttercream finish.

You can certainly purchase your cake board but if you want a design created start to finish under your own hands, you can easily make your own boards.

Pre-made Cake Boards
Purchased cake boards can be found in almost any configuration and size to meet your decorating needs. There are thinner boards made out of cardboard and covered with foil that are usually used to separate cake layers rather than support the entire cake.

If you are making a rectangular sheet cake or a small layer cake, you can probably get away with using one of these thin boards on the bottom as well. Make sue you get one that allows for enough space around the cake if you have design elements or borders that spread out at the bottom.  You can get these boards ranging from 4-inches in diameter all the way up to 16-inches or more in rounds, squares, ovals, and rectangles.
You can also purchase foam core cake boards that have a bit more heft to them for heavier creations. These are still not designed for a four-tier carrot cake that weighs over 20 pounds with all the cake, icing, and decorations. The best and most expensive option in the purchased category is Masonite boards in ¼ or ½ inch widths.

These sturdy boards need to be covered with foil before placing your cakes on them and come in an assortment of sizes and shapes like all the other premade cake boards. Masonite boards can also be used between tiers for extra support.

Make your Own Cake Board
You can make cake boards from ¼ inch plywood or several layers of cardboard depending on how handy you are with power tools.

You can certainly enlist assistance from a friend if you are not comfortable with tools. You will need a measuring tape, ruler, and pencil for both mediums in order to measure correctly.  The first decision to make is which medium is the best for your project and that will come down to the finished weight of the decorated cake. Remember, cakes are quite heavy especially several tiered creations, so calculate the weight carefully. Look at the cake, icing, fondant, decorations, toppers, and fillings.  Anything over 10 pounds will require a wood cake board to be safe.

After deciding on the type of material you are going to use for your cake design, take a moment to look at what you want the finished design to look like and if the cake board can add the image. For example, you might just want your cake to sit on a board or you might want an ocean themed board with painted fish or rocks to accent a beach themed cake. Cake boards can be covered with non-toxic paint, fondant, icing, pretty paper or foil as well as design elements made out of gum paste depending on the look you want to create.  You should also consider the exact size of the board to highlight whatever design elements you want. You might end up using a 12-inch board for your 8-inch cake or go all the way to 16-inches for the same cake.

When creating your cake board out of cardboard or foam core, you might want to find materials that have a wax side so that it does not get soggy from the frosting or cake. Oil resistant cardboard also helps you avoid an unsightly oily ring around your cake, as well. You can double up on the cardboard to create a thicker board by cutting out the correct size and gluing two or three pieces together. Make sure you allow the glue to dry completely before using the board. You can also glue cardboard or foam core together, let it dry, and then cut out the correct shape to avoid ragged edges. The trick is to use a very sharp Exacto knife for square or rectangular boards and well-maintained scissors for round boards.

Plywood or pressboard is a good choice for a wood cake board but take the time to ensure that the piece you want to use is flat because wood can be warped. If you take the exact measurements of your board with you to the store, the employees there will often cut the wood for you. Whether you cut it yourself or get the wood cut, make sure you take the time to sand the edges of the board so that there aren’t any stray splinters. You can also get creative with round cake boards if you see stool tops or small side table tops that would work. Just make sure the wood is untreated or cover the entire surface with non-toxic paint, oil resistant paper, or fondant.

Beyond the Cake Board
Premade or homemade cake boards can be decorated as extensively as the cake itself if that is the look you want to create. You can cover a board with fondant and then hand paint an entire accompanying scene on the board before placing the cake. Make sure the design on the board is completely dry before placing the cake and if you can, decorate the cake on another board and transfer it over. If you are covering the entire board with fondant make sure you brush icing or gel on the board first so that the fondant sticks. It can wreck the design if your cake board covering tears or shifts. There is no limit to what you can create with the right tools and imagination.

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Lifestyle Magazine: The Importance of Cake Boards
The Importance of Cake Boards
Lifestyle Magazine
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