No matter how good your cooking skills are, a beautiful cake stand can elevate your creation. So if you struggle with measurements and timing, maybe it’s time to focus on the setting with a carefully laid table that can cover a multitude of baking sins.
A cake stand is your best friend, because different levels are to a table what pillows are to a bed – the layered, underestimated hero. Tall glassware contrasts perfectly against low plates, while linens draped over the edge of each setting soften the look of your table setting.
If you’re picturing an embellished sweet cake or savoury cheese with trailing grapes piled high, there are a few things you need to get right first. We spoke to the experts to find out how to choose the perfect cake stand to take your food and your table styling to another level.
How to choose the best cake stand
Choosing the right cake stand for your needs goes beyond aesthetics and into functionality. Think about the types of cake you cook or buy and serve before you decide on what’s best for you.
What colour cake stand is best?
“Simple white or glass cake stands with little pattern or adornment are the most versatile as they will suit most styles of cake,” says Anneka Manning, owner and founder of Bakeclub. “They also allow the cake to be the hero and won’t distract from the ‘main event’, rather just support and complement it. Coloured or patterned cake stands are fun as an alternative and are good to buy if you already have one or two simple cake stands.”
Do I need a lip on my cake stand?
Some cake stands have a raised rim around the edge, which works well to display a collection of individual cakes, secure a dome (which can be purchased separately) and for syrupy cakes, but this edge can make it difficult to cut and slice cakes when serving.
Do I need a cake stand dome?
“If buying a cake stand with a dome make sure it doesn’t slope inwards too quickly as this will restrict the height of your cake,” says Anneka. “Straight-sided domes or covers are more versatile and won’t limit the height so much.”
The perfect cake stand size
Check the size of your cake tins before you settle on which size cake stand is best for you and the way you’d like your cakes to look. “A cake stand that is too large for your cake will make it ‘swim’ on the plate rather than allowing it to shine,” says Anneka. “I like to use a cake stand with a diameter of about 6-8cm larger than the diameter of your cake (including any buttercream/icing). For example a 20cm cake will look best on a 26-28cm diameter cake stand.”
It’s a matter of personal style, however. “I usually allow around 2-3cm around the perimeter of my cakes when choosing which stand to use,” says Are Media recipe developer and photo chef, Kerrie Worner.
How high should a cake stand be?
“A cake stand with a tall ‘foot’ will make your cake look more striking but the cake itself needs to be a reasonable height also for it to work,” says Anneka. “A shorter stand will be more versatile for cakes of all heights.”
Look for a stable base with your cake stand to avoid wobbles when cutting your cake to serve. “Particularly if people are helping themselves,” says Kerrie. “Ceramic cake stands are good for stability and cutting without scratching, while glass cake stands tend to be chosen more for their elaborate decoration or thick cut crystal patterns.”
How to clean a cake stand
Most ceramic cake stands can go in the dishwasher but check the manufacturer’s instructions. “When in doubt, handwash your cake stand,” says Kerrie, who also notes that a cake stand tends to take up a lot of dishwasher space, so handwashing is usually quicker and easier when entertaining, leaving space for plates and other tableware.
Cake stand style tips
- No cake stand? No problem – Make a makeshift cake stand by turning a bowl upside down and putting a plate on it. To stagger the height of your food display, create another makeshift cake stand that is slightly taller or shorter.
- Last-minute tiered cake stand – Place cake stands in graduating sizes on top of each other to create a high-tea style cake stand in a jiffy.
- Cake as decor – A small domed cake stand makes a welcoming decorative addition to your kitchen island topped with a stack of biscuits or lamingtons. And it ensures your treats don’t go to waste in the cupboard!
Best cake stands to shop
Heritage green toile floral cake stand, Myer
This delicate new bone china cake stand features a dainty green floral motif but is durable enough to be both dishwasher and microwave safe. Beautiful for all occasions, but the green makes it especially suited to Christmas decorating.
Robert Gordon ‘Lume’ cake stand, Myer
Modern and classic all at once, Robert Gordon’s ‘Lume’ cake stand will literally elevate your cake and make it the standout feature of any event. The ribbed base catches the light beautifully and you may find yourself baking more often just to keep this pretty stand on display.
Ecology ‘Gateaux’ cake stand in pink/blue, David Jones
Make a simple cake stand out with this colourful soda lime glass cake stand by Ecology. The ombre glass effect will bounce light around and imbue your table with plenty of character. Also available in yellow/orange and tan/pink.
House of Nunu ‘The Butler’ cake stand, The Iconic
With a tall and sleek silhouette, you’ll look forward to bringing this cake stand out for special occasions. Made from 100% borosilicate glass, it is dainty and sturdy and perfect for both traditional cakes with maximalist icing, or modern ‘naked’ cakes.
Large Hampstead mango wood pedestal board, Temple & Webster
Bake cakes regularly? Display them proudly on an everyday cake stand you don’t have to reserve for company or special occasions. This minimalist design is made from mango wood and will add warmth to a modern kitchen.
Saarde ‘Flow’ cake stand in marshmallow, The Iconic
Add subtle texture and movement to the table with Saarde’s ‘Flow’ resin cake stand. Each stand is handmade and no two patterns are the same, meaning you can treasure this unique creation for years to come (unlike cake, which must be savoured in the moment). Also available in the colour peach blush.
Maxwell & Williams white basics cake stand, Harris Scarfe
Sometimes you just need an all-rounder cake stand that looks just as good underneath a Disney-themed creation as it does under an elegant multi-tiered celebration cake. This is that trusty white cake stand.
Ambrosia ‘Zest’ porcelain oblong cake stand, House
Maybe you’re not making just one cake. Maybe you’re making caramel slice, passionfruit and coconut fudge slice or lime meringue pie cupcakes. And this is where the standard, round cake stand just doesn’t cut it. Spread the love with an oblong cake stand – perfect for displaying delicious shareable treats.
Soho blue stripe cake stand, Adairs
Nothing says summer entertaining quite like a blue and yellow stripe. Add a touch of sunshine to the table with this fun and friendly cake stand. The only way to make this stand look better is to top it with a baked ricotta passionfruit cheesecake – yum!
Christina Re 3-tier cake stand, David Jones
There’s an art to throwing the perfect high tea. First you must plan the menu, featuring delicious cakes and finger sandwiches. Then you must design the ultimate tablescape, and to do that you’ll need a multi-tiered cake stand. This one by Christina Re is elegant with just the right amount of bling (it’s embellished with a hand-painted 24-carat gold edging).