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How to make Tall Cakes or Extended Height Cakes

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Tall cakes or extended height cakes are a recent trend. They have the ability to make the overall design of the cake tall, lean, and elegant. These cakes are not difficult to make. And yet, a few precautions are worth paying attention to, such as cake boards, doweling, and stacking. Also, in this post, I explain the differences between tall, extended height cakes, and double barrel cakes.

A block of wood with mushrooms made with modeling chocolate.
Modeling Chocolate Recipe – White Chocolate

What is the difference between tall and double barrel cakes?

A tall cake is usually just a cake whose height has been extended. Usually, by adding one more layer. So, instead of a two-layer cake, you now have a three-layer cake. While a double barrel cake is two or three cakes stacked one on top of the other. It can be about 8 to 10 inches tall. So simply speaking, a tall cake is an extended height cake, while a double barrel is an extended tier cake.

Let’s use the cake below as an example:

  • The top tier is a standard cake – 4 inches tall.
  • The middle is a double barrel cake – about 10 inches tall.
  • The bottom is a tall cake – about 6 inches tall.
A decorated cake with sugar flowers.

Standard cakes

  • Most cakes are usually 2 layers of cake with a cake board on the bottom.
  • The layers can each be 2 inches or 3 inches tall.
  • So there can be two layers making one 4 to 6 inches tall cake. These do not need any additional support as long as they are on a good cake circle/board.

This Burgundy Stenciled cake is four tiers of a standard height cake. All of them are 2 x 2 layers cakes with three layers of filling.

A decorated cake with sugar flowers.

This is what a standard cake looks like on the inside. 2 x 2 layers – each layer is split into 2 so we have 3 fillings with 4 layers of cake.

A slice of buttercream layer cake on a plate.

Tall cakes

As a general rule, I love when my cakes are tall. And while my cake orders are often regular 4-inch cakes, I tend to deliver 5 or 6-inch layer cakes. And yet, tall cakes are so much prettier!! Don’t you think?

Look at my recent blossom white wedding cake (the photo below). These are all 4-inch layer cakes. Close your eyes for just a minute and imagine this same cake with 6-inch tiers. Can you imagine how much more of a wow factor those 6 inches would add to this cake? Right?

A wedding cake decorated with sugar flowers.
Blossoms White Wedding Cake
  • It is a 6-inch cake with three layers of cake each 2-inches in height.
  • Usually, you can stack the three layers on a single cake board/circle as shown below.
  • Such a 6 or 7-inch cake does not necessarily need any support dowel inside the cake. They can still hold their weight as long as they have a good cake board below. One that does not flex!!

This African safari wedding cake is a good example of a standard vs. tall or extended-height cake.

  • The top two layers are standard – 2  x 2 layers with three fillings = 5-inch tall.
  • The bottom tier, however, is 3 x 2-inch cakes with 2 layers of fillings = 6 inches tall (almost 7-inch tall cake).
A cake decorated in an African safari theme.

Double-barrel cakes

  • This is again a 6-inch tall cake with three layers.
  • But, if you split each layer into more layers you will need to dowel and add another cake circle in between. Why?
  • So the bottom cake layers do not buckle under the weight of the top layers.
  • The more layers you add the more your structure becomes weak. Hence, the more support you need.
  • Also, more layers mean more movement. Hence even a center dowel is sometimes necessary so the layers stay stacked evenly.

This would be one cake inside your double-barrel cake – can you imagine adding 4 more layers to this without any support? Nah, it would buckle under the weight, and move around with the frosting.

A layer cake before being decorated.

Servings sizes

  • Tall Cake – Well, it’s just one extra layer so it really only makes your cake taller. So, each serving is a taller slice of cake not necessarily more servings.
    Of course, you could serve half a slice if it was a family event. And yet, in general, you would want to give your guests a good slice that starts from the top to bottom. It’s more aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, it does not add extra servings.
    However, financially it does add extra cake. Hence, I personally have different prices for my tall vs, standard cakes.
  • In case of a double barrel – yes! It’s two full cakes with a cake board in between so they can be separated and served as two cakes. So, you do have extra servings and you price it as two cakes into one double barrel cake.
A layer cake with checkerboard effect on the table.
Black and White Cake with Checkerboard Effect

Tip Thursday – tall or extended-height cake

I tried to create a little diagram to help you understand. In the next post, I will be talking about double-barrel cakes. I hope you find that useful as well. You can Pin this Tip Thursday on Pinterest as well as my other Tip Thursday posts.


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  1. Hello Veena I would like to know if I can make double barrel cake with oil base cake or different flavors thank you

    1. Yes, you can, Naledi. It just needs to be stacked properly with the right amount of dowel. Have fun.

  2. Day 6 done
    Thank you!

  3. Margaret M. Bosler says:

    Day 6 – Done. thank you!

  4. Day 6 Done.
    Great lesson!

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