Tuesday 5 January 2010

Airplane Cake for Dash

Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts. The party plane is about to take off. Yes my latest novelty cake creation is an airplane birthday cake that I made on the weekend for my little nephew, Dash's, first birthday. In addition to all the usual festive celebrations, my sister Chris has visited from Ireland with her husband Fergal and little son Dash. On the weekend I went to stay at my parents' place for lots of family fun.

Dash not has only come half way across the world in an airplane but also has travelled around Europe quite a bit for a little baby. A cake in the shape of a plane seemed just the thing for this little boy.

Fergal festooned the house with balloons and happy birthday signs. There were party hats and horns. He made a delicious kid-friendly airplane fuel punch - orange juice, pineapple juice and lemonade with strawberries and mint. Cocktail umbrellas were arranged on our glasses - or should that be parachutes!

Dash had his aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family present. He got lots of fun gifts for his birthday including a pop-up toy camera, a spade to bang on people's heads, and lots of clothes. There were lots of kids running about the house creating mayhem and playing with Christmas presents from great aunts and uncles and their great-grandmother.

My mum has just got her first rooster in the backyard. Ha ha! It is not quite the chickens she has planned for her new chook house. This is on the new Wendy house (cubby hut) that my dad put up in the backyard. The kids love it.

Mum had prepared lots of good food. I took a photo of this plate of nibblies but between making the cake and running around after Sylvia, I never got a chance to have any. I think it was passed around while Christmas presents were being opened in the loungeroom but I had to keep an eye on Sylvia who is pulling herself up on any piece of furniture that she can at the moment.

But never fear, I ate rather well. Here is my plate of crispy roast potatoes, rocket salad, cauliflower and pomegranate salad, and lentil salad. All most delicious. Washed down with some airplane fuel. We only had two high chairs for three babies. Sylvia is the youngest and least wriggly baby of the three so I ate first and then sat her on my knee to feed her some fruit.

She looked like the perfect baby but when I went shopping for cake decorations she was her rascally self as she played with Dash under the watchful eye of my mum. Apparently she constantly was swiping his dummy (which some might call a soother or a pacifier) from his mouth. Sylvia does not have a dummy but maybe when she saw he had a skull and crossbones one designed by Jon Bon Jovi she wanted to be a rock and roll baby too.

No photos were taken of Sylvia swiping the dummy but there were lots of photos of Dash with his cake. We sang happy birthday and someone blew out the solitary candle but I suspect it wasn't Dash. I made a mud cake which seemed the sort that would hold its shape, and would be appreciated by the adults eating it (rather than the plainer cakes I make when it is for kids to eat). I think I might have added the self-raising flour twice which might account for the funny holes in it. Fortunately they were on the bottom of the cake so you couldn't see them when it was assembled.

I used a white chocolate ganache for the first time and it tasted fantastic, even if it didn't look quite professional. I suspect this was why I got so many compliments on the cake (including Fran's boyfriend John telling me it was the best tasting birthday cake he has ever had) but I am not sure that it was the easiest icing to work with. And I used a truckload of white chocolate. Luckily my mum lives near to the supermarket because I sent family over the street for more white chocolate not once but twice!

As well as the birthday cake, there were lots of desserts. Summer pudding, chocolate panforte, more chocolate cake, gluten free cheesecake, and my mum's delicious caramel tart which you can see above. It was all so good. I went home tired and loaded with sugar.

How to Make an Airplane Cake

What I used:
  • 1 rectangular mud cake, baked in a lamington tin (28 x 18cm)
  • 1 large cake tray
  • toothpicks
  • 450g white chocolate
  • ½ cup cream (I used one with 45% milk fat)
  • red and blue powdered food dye
  • smarties
  • jubes (or other small round lollies, sweets or candy)
  • liquorice strips
  • red glitter
As always, I had a look around the web before embarking on the journey. I found a few good ideas for the tray to put the cake on. I liked the idea of using blue wrapping paper that had clouds on it on the tray, covered with baking paper. The same person got photos of each family membr on rice paper for the plane windows which looked great. I also liked the idea of cotton wool balls or fairy floss (cotton candy) on the tray to represent the plane being in the clouds.

In the end I didn't have time for much work on the tray and used a large platter my mum has. A large tray or plate is needed and on other occasions I have covered a flat baking tray with foil for this sort of cake.

The most helpful information was finding a template for a airplane cake which used up most of a rectangular cake. I found it here but it came from Bakers Easy Cut Up Party Cakes. I loved how there was so little waste. However I slightly altered how I made my cake once I had seen the tail on this cake. I also made the nose a bit blunter. I have redone the template on this photo with each piece labelled.

So to make the cake, take the rectangular cake and use a sharp knife to cut it into pieces as above. To assemble it, place Piece A in the middle to make the main body of the airplane. Pieces B make the wings. Arrange Pieces C beside the end of the plane to make tail wings. Trim Pieces D to make a uniform second layer along the top of Piece A. Finally place Pieces E next to each other on the end of Piece A to make the tail. This was the trickiest bit and I needed a few toothpicks to hold these in place and a little extra cake to wedge it up. Once the cake pieces are in place, use a pastry brush to brush away as many crumbs as possible so you don't have so many getting mixed up in the frosting.

Now make your ganache. Place chocolate and cream in a microwave proof bowl and heat for about 1 minute. Stir well and give another 30-60 seconds in microwave if needed. I found that plain old milky bar white chocolate was easier to work with than fancy white chocolate. I am not sure exactly sure how much cream I used but it was about half a cup. I just put a few spoonfuls into the bowl each time as I made three lots of ganache (only because I didn't realise just how much I would need).

Divide the ganache up for different colours if you decide to do more than one colour. I use powdered colouring for white chocolate which works well without altering the texture. I did three colours. This was partly because when I made the second lot I was not prepared to try and match the colour. If I did it again I would probably do the red back again. I thought it looked like a jet engine firing on all cylanders rather than a dodgy QANTAS plane having a malfunction. I used some red glitter to increase the glow and compensate for the dull red colour.

Use a knife to carefully spread ganache over the cake. This is tricky stuff and requires patience. I chose to do blue with a red back but you could do any colour all over or any combination. Line smarties along the sides of the top of the body of the plane to represent windows including two at the front for the pilot. I also put a red smartie at the front for the nose of the plane. I tried to put smarties on the wing to represent the airline symbol but they kept slipping down. Cut very thin strips of liquorice and put around the sides of the plane. Then place jubes along both sides of the wings to represent motors.

Now you are ready to party!

On the stereo:
The BBC sessions: Belle and Sebastian


  1. Wow youre so clever :) I just love your novelty cakes

  2. This looks amazing, I love it! Now back to thesis (i'm not supposed to be reading blogs shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh).

  3. Bravo Johanna! What a fantastic cake! :O I'm so impressed :D I agree spreading ganache requires a lot of patience, particularly in hot weather but the end result looks well worth it!

  4. Johanna, I'm in awe!! Your cake is incredible!! Have you ever thought of opening a bakery? You are truly a talented artist!!

  5. Awww...what a cute party! The cake is incredible Johanna! You are amazing!

  6. I don't know if I would ever have the patience for that cake. Well done!

  7. Thanks Fleur - I love making these cakes when I have time and energy

    Thanks Kristy - now go back to that thesis and I wont tell anyone :-)

    Thanks Lorraine - luckily it wasn't too hot or the ganache would have been even worse - nothing like it landing in a puddle on the tray - will be hard to go bsck to buttercream frosting after tasting this though

    Thanks Toby

    Thanks Astra - a bakery would be hard work and I would need to be more professional than I am now - I enjoy being able to have fun with cakes without the pressure - though maybe I will consider it one day

    Thanks Jenn - I'm blushing

    Thanks Toni - I sometimes wonder that I have the patience - but I enjoy the finished product enough to get it done

  8. What a smashing cake - and happy birthday Dash! I rather fancy your mum's caramel tart too - I heart caramel and cream together.

  9. Stunning cake! Your novelty cakes are always so amazing. I bet little Dash had a wonderful time. And what a party, too--all that food and all those sweets! Will you be posting the recipe for the cauliflower salad? It sounds fantastic.

  10. Wow, amazing cake! And I can imagine how hard ganache would have been to work with (and how yummy to eat)!

  11. Thanks Cakelaw - I must blog the recipe for the caramel tart some time - I don't make it at all but I love to eat it

    Thanks Ricki - what a shame dash probably wont remember it but he had fun - will have to get the cauliflower salad from mum

    Thanks Penny - hardest thing about spreading ganache on a cake is trying not to eat it all because then I would feel very ill and the cake has no frosting :-)

  12. I made yuor cake for a contest in our Behindertenschule. i was second and only lost to the gurl who built a nut roll. thank you!

  13. Thanks for the instructions! My son asked for an airplane cake today (his birthday) and I knew there had to be a way to make one with a regular rectangle cake. Thanks!

  14. Hi Johanna! Thanks for your lovely comment on my blog. I've visited your blog a few times before, I think, and I absolutely love the name, it's so quaint!

    I have a friend who dreams of marrying a pilot, and she's crazy about aeroplanes. I think if I made this for her, she'd be over the moon! The photo on how to cut the cake is very good- I'm inspired to try this out!


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