A few weeks ago, I was in charge of making the dessert for a dinner party. Desserts haven't always been my strong suit, but I was armed with enough BraveTart recipes to feel confident I could get the job done.
In the end, I chose Stella's chocolate skillet cake with milk-chocolate ganache frosting, which I had made before to rave reviews. Plus, it's very simple to throw together—it's all done in one skillet!
After following all the directions and topping the cake with a flutter of chocolate curls and pearls, it really looked fantastic. But when it came time to serve, I slipped it onto a bare white ceramic plate, and suddenly its grandeur felt muted. What it needed was a cake stand, and I didn't own one.
The cake was devoured, and all the dinner-party guests were thrilled, but still, I decided it was high time I bought a cake stand. And who better to ask about what to look for than the cake queen herself?
I sat down with Stella to learn the most important characteristics of the best cake stands. It's best to consider function first, but don't neglect prettiness, since people feast with their eyes first. Below are some guidelines to follow when you're shopping for a reliable cake stand, along with a few recommendations.
Prioritize Stability Over Cuteness
With cake stands, heavier is better. According to Stella, a good one should weigh at least two pounds. You don't want it to be top-heavy, lest it tip over, but evenly weighted throughout. A good center of gravity will save you from the potential disaster of watching your precious chocolate cherry layer cake fall to the floor.
Our favorite cake pans are eight inches in diameter, so we like stands that are at least 10 inches across, leaving a one-inch margin all around the cake. This will give you plenty of room to pipe a border or some pretty rosettes along the edges of your double-strawberry cake.
Keep It Flat
Some cake stands dome up in the middle where the pedestal meets the stand; others are concave at this point. Both of these situations make for tricky placing and slicing. The flatter, the better.
A Few of Our Favorites
Target Marble-and-Acacia-Wood Cake Stand
This super-affordable cake stand from Target checks all the boxes: It's heavy, evenly balanced, and it looks great. The marble top provides a flat surface for your cake, and the wooden bottom makes a nice, rustic-looking base.
Le Creuset Stoneware Cake Stand
When you're looking for a piece of cooking or baking equipment that's both beautiful and functional, Le Creuset should always be at the top of your list. We originally ordered this cake stand last year to test for Mother's Day gifts, and since then, we've used it constantly in photo shoots because it's just that good. It comes in a bunch of colors, but we're really on a pink kick these days.
Thirstystone Marble-and-Glass Cake Stand
While quite a few of our recommended cake stands have marble tops, this one also has a nice, tall glass base. Since the base itself is about half the diameter of the top, there's little to no chance that this thing will tip over. Plus, the glass is elegant-looking without taking attention away from the cake itself.
Beck Wood-and-Brass Cake Stand
For more of a modern look, try this "serving pedestal" from Crate and Barrel, which has a smooth wooden surface that'll complement any color of frosting, plus a shiny, geometric brass bottom. It's the kind of handsome piece I might consider leaving out all the time, topped with a vase of flowers when it's not being used for its intended purpose.
West Elm Marble-and-Brass Cake Stand
When I'm looking for well-made and on-trend accessories, I trust West Elm with my life. This marble-and-brass cake stand is super heavy and well balanced, and it looks like it'd fit right into a Vogue spread. In contrast with the Beck pedestal, the brass bottom here is brushed, for a subtler finish, and shaped like a thick cone. It's just as sturdy, but a little less flashy.
CB2 Black Marble Cake Stand
This unusual and bold-looking pedestal is made of black marble, which will look lovely paired with a powdered sugar–topped chocolate olive oil cake, or with a lighter-colored cake, such as a white cake made with toasted sugar and brown butter, for contrast.
Vintage Cake Stand From Etsy
This vintage number is a bit shy of our 10-inch requirement, but it sure is pretty. If you're serving something smaller than an eight-inch cake, like cupcakes or cookies, it'll definitely make a lovely conversation piece. If you're going to photograph your baked goods—as we do—even better.