A cake board is a flat support placed under a cake, to make it easy to lift and transport.
A cake is placed on a cake board and then spends the rest of its “life span” on the board: it is decorated on the board, transported on the board, and served from the board.
Cake boards come in different sizes and shapes, disposable and re-usable. They can be round, square or rectangular. A cake board should never be just the exact size of the cake it will be under. There should be an allowance of at least 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) all around it.
Undecorated cake boards are usually corrugated on their underside and white on top. You cover them with something grease-resistant, such as a foil or a paper doily. You may also get cake boards that are already decorated, for example, with a doily design imprinted on top, and with scalloped (“ruffled”) edges.
Cake boards are also used in stacked cakes, particularly in ones in which the layers are stacked up using pedestals, like a classic wedding cake. The board distributes the weight of the cake amongst the four pillars, and stops the pillars from just going right through the cake layer above them.
Disposable cake boards are cardboard. Re-usable ones are made of Masonite, and will be about 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Re-usable ones need to be covered on both sides to make them water and grease resistant. Pros often write on the underside their name, phone number and the amount charged if not returned, to help persuade people to actually return them and not just toss them out.
These re-usable ones give more support than cardboard cake boards, which is particularly important for the middles of large cakes. Even a bit of give in the middle on a large cake can cause the decorating to wrinkle or break apart, or worse, the cake to split. A big-tiered wedding cake could become unstable and fall over if a cardboard cake board were used that couldn’t support all the tiered layers straight up. Reinforced cardboard ones have the advantage in layered cakes of allowing you to drive sharpened dowel rods through them to make a long pillar that goes through several layers.
Homemade re-usable cake boards can be made from plywood 10 mm (3/8 inch) thick.
To make a disposable one out of cardboard, glue several pieces of cardboard the same size together with a hot glue gun. Plaster the edges with a substance such as royal icing or gumpaste, to make them smooth and uniform, then let dry.
For foil, some people use decorative florists foil. You roll out in the foil in a very large piece, put your cake board on top of it, and cut the foil in such a way that leaves lots around the edges to be used for tucking the foil under the board. You tuck the foil tightly under the board, pressing it into place, then lift up a portion at a time on the underside and glue in place with a hot glue gun.
Use an appropriate width and colour of ribbon to run around the sides of the board, gluing it into place with a hot glue gun. Or you can use cake board trim, a vinyl tape that you use to mask the edges of corrugated cardboard cake boards.
Instead of foil, you can use Contac Paper (sic.)
Pros cover the masonite or plywood ones first in Contac Paper top and bottom, which becomes the permanent covering, never seen. It’s easily washed. Then when the board is used, it is covered in foil appropriate for the cake.
Cake boards can also be used to serve other types of food such as canapés, sandwiches, etc.