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Boards vs Drums - When to use each

There seems to be a great deal of confusion as to what to use to support your cake.  Available are many options from just cardboards to Foam Core Boards to Drums and more.

There are differences in Cake Circles and Boards. Cake circle generally refers to round boards where “board” generally refers to square or to a sheet cake size board. Some are covered with a grease proof paper some are not. Some have just round edges, some have scalloped edges, some are thin, some are thicker, and it goes on and on and on. There are Wrapped Board, Die Cuts, Single wall and Double walls. The Die Cuts are thin and a sturdier board than a single wall cardboard. So, there are many options to choose from.

So, let’s start with plain cardboards. Most cake circles and boards (plain cardboards) are white on one side and brown on the other. Depending on the manufacturer of the board, one may have a grease proof side and some do not have a side which is grease proof which means as soon as you put a cake on the board, the board begins to absorb the liquids and grease from the cake and icing making the board look weak and greasy.  All plain cardboards should be covered in some way to protect them from the absorption of liquids from your cake and icing.

Some cardboards are delivered in boxes and some are not. Some are simply placed in the back of a large truck, sometimes on a pallet and sometimes not, sometimes in a box and sometimes not, all to be delivered to the cake store or consumer such as Walmart, HEB, or any other brick and mortar store front. This makes these cardboards NOT sanitary. You should never place a cake on a bare cardboard.  They also shed bits of cardboard and who wants to see bits of cardboard on their cake or served to a guest.

 Another issue with cardboards is whether it is a single wall cardboard or a double wall cardboard. This refers to how many sets of corrugation and paper are between the top and bottom of the board. Single wall has one corrugation; so, there is a top and a bottom of the board with a zig-zag corrugation in between this. In a double wall cardboard, there are two corrugations with a paper between them and then a top and bottom. The two-wall cardboard is much stronger than the single wall. When you lift a cake and the board flexes, typically your icing cracks. This indicates that the cardboard was not strong enough to handle the weight of the cake. You can put multiple cardboards together, taped or glued, and then cover them with a grease proof foil or paper doily or you could just move up to a drum.

Drums are incredibly strong. This is a 4-wall cardboard covered with a grease proof foil. This means that there are 4 sets of corrugations with three papers in between the corrugations before the top and bottom are added for strength. These boards are some of the strongest on the market at the best prices.

Other options include foam core boards. These are also very strong as they literally have a sturdy foam in-between the top and bottom which are grease proof surfaces. Foam core boards are typically white and very sturdy. Sturdiness depends on how easily your board bends under the weight of a cake. 

Generally, small cakes of 9” or under, are okay with a single wall cardboard as long as it is covered with a grease proof covering of some kind. Once you reach a 10” cake or larger, you certainly want a double wall cardboard that is already covered with a white wrap or other suitable wrapping, or you move up to a drum. There should be no bending however slight with the board your cake is presented on.

Each cake you bake should be on a cardboard the exact same size as the cake allowing you to move the cake without damaging it. This board should be covered in some manner with grease proof paper. I personally like to use Butcher Wrap, a die cut, pre-covered or under fold board. Butcher Wrap is the least expensive method, but it is time consuming. One circle of butcher wrap must be cut about 1” larger than your board and a second circle should be cut about 1/4“smaller than your board. The larger is placed on your board then folded under and glued or taped down on the underside. Then the smaller cut is placed over the folded part and glued or taped down. NO cake touched the board in this scenario.  The cake is protected from the cardboard and provides support without being seen until the cake it cut.

There are still other options out there, but they tend to be much more expensive. Unless you are willing to pass the cost of those more expensive boards along to the customer, then you must retrieve them so they can be used again. This can prove to be a problem in some cases.

I hope this has helped a bit in understanding some of the issues with choosing the correct board for your cake. If you have questions, please feel free to contact us for more information. We are always happy to help.

Happy Decorating!


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