Wednesday, June 6, 2012

How to make an Aeroplane/Airplane Birthday Cake

As promised in my previous post, here is a short tutorial on how to make an aeroplane/airplane birthday cake for your kid. For the purpose of making this cake, I specially ordered a set of Wilton 29 Piece Cake Decorating Deluxe Tip Set from Ebay. You don't have to use the whole set, just 3 decorating tips will do.

This was something I had prepared for a long time. I had been feeling very guilty that I did not bake a nice enough cake for my 3 year old son for his 1st and 2nd birthday, so this time round, I did a lot of research on the internet. In fact, I went through the whole SDLC (system development life cycle) just as if I was designing a software program (btw I was an IT professional before I became a professional homemaker ^_^). I selected the picture that I was gonna draw on the cake and presented it to my son for approval, once he gave the nod, I "prototyped" it by drawing it on a piece of paper, and again showed it to my "customer". I know all these took away the elements of surprise and excitement from the birthday celebration, but I wanted to involve him as much as possible so that he knew that he is important to mummy (and daddy) and mummy was taking the extra effort to bake him a fancy cake for his birthday. 

The concept of birthday is perhaps still a bit fuzzy for my boy, every other day he would come home to say that "Ik ben jarig" (It is my birthday) probably because another kid has celebrated his/her birthday that day. Unfortunately or fortunately, his birthday fell on 19 May, a Saturday and the preceding Thursday and Friday were school holidays, so we talked to the teacher and told her we would like his birthday to be celebrated in school on the following Monday so that it would be indicated on the weekly school agenda the following week. Thank goodness, that actually gave me more lead time to prepare the cake. The kindergarden which he is enrolled in is a very good school with very caring and dedicated teachers. Every Monday of the week we would receive a piece of paper with the school agenda of that week, describing what the kids would be learning, and even which kid is celebrating his/her birthday on which day.

So much of talking, let's get started. This aeroplane cake was made for his actual birthday on Saturday, while the choo-choo-train cake (the tutorial will come next) was made for the celebration with his classmates in the kindergarden the following Monday.

Here is how it goes :
1) First you must bake a 8 inch round cake for the cake base. It is recommended to use a sponge cake as it would make the crumbcoating easier. However I used a chocolate cake as my cake base. It is quite crumbly but very yummy. 

2) Cut and level the cake with a sharp serrated knife so that the surface is completely flat for crumbcoating. Crumbcoating means putting a layer of icing or frosting on the cake to seal in the crumbs. Here is a nice video to show you how to do crumbcoating. I inverted the cake so that it was bottom-up since the bottom of the cake was nice and flat, and I coated the cake with a layer of Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting. I like this frosting very much since it was less sweet and held up quite well under hot summer weather. Now since I only have a handheld mixer (and not a KitchenAid Standalone Mixer) which would be kapot if I let it run for 5 to 10 min at one go, hence I only prepared one serving of the buttercream frosting (in between resting my hand-held mixer every 3 min or so). It was barely enough for both the crumbcoating and piping, therefore I would advise you to prepare 2 servings of the buttercream frosting in advance.

3) Usually you are supposed to crumbcoat the sides of the cake, but as I told you my hand-held cake mixer was not sturdy enough to make 2 servings of frosting and I was too lazy so I only crumbcoated the top. As you can see, the coating is cream colour, which is the actual colour of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream without additional colouring. After crumbcoating, I put the cake in the fridge to harden, together with the other portions of frosting set aside for piping, which I placed in bowls covered up with clingwrap.

Then I outlined the picture of the aeroplane using one of Dr Oetker's decorating pens which came in a set of 4 tubes of shimmering pastel colours. It was all done using freehand. You just have to squeeze the tube with a steady hand. Why did I use blue? Because I didn't have a choice of black or brown! Later you would see that I had to use a decorating tip (Tip #2) to pipe a brown outline over the blue one to provide a stronger contrast. I should have done that in the first place!

4) Now is the time to start using my wilton decorating tips. For this cake, I used only 3 wilton decorating tips : Round Tip #2 for doing the outline of the plane and writing the words; Open Star Tip #16 for piping the green part (dropflowers) of the plane; and Drop Flower Tip #106 Closed Star Tip #30 for piping the pink dropflowers on the edges of the cake. I used the same buttercream frosting which I had set aside for doing piping, divided it into several portions and coloured it with the desired food colouring.

Actually this was supposed to be a blue aeroplane and I had actually used blue food colouring but even after adding so many drops of it into my frosting, I could only get an ugly green colour. And the orangey-pink colour on the edges of the cake was also not exactly what I wanted. I had wanted a bright red or at least a nice pink colour. Anyway I had to make do with whatever food colourings I had since I only had 3 (orange, red and blue). 

You can refer to this wilton link on how to use a coupler with a decorating tip and how to fill a decorating bag. Fyi, I only used a normal ziploc bag of which I cut a hole and slip in the decorating tip and secure it with the coupler. You can also refer to this video and this video for tips on how to do piping, which I found very useful for beginners such as myself.

5) Here is the finished cake. Doesn't it look much better than before with the brown outline? This was done by mixing some cocoa powder into the frosting and piping it using Tip #2. Since I still had some leftover frosting, not enough to coat the sides fully but enough to plaster on some cookies. These were actually stroopwafels which is one of my favourite cookies, a type of thin wafel cookie that you can only find in Belgium and Nederlands, I think. I dunno what is the English name but stroopwafel is the Dutch name. Btw, this is not belgian waffles if that is what you are thinking!

Okay, so much for my "short" tutorial. This is my very first attempt at cake decoration. Just as I have learnt a lot from other online blogs and videos, I am sharing this tutorial on my blog in the hope that others can easily learn how to decorate a simple cake. It is not so difficult as long as you plan it beforehand and do it step-by-step. :)


  1. WOW! Free-hand plane! Great job! The brown outlines bring out the shape of the plane brilliantly!

    I LOOOVE Syrup-waffles! I have relatives in Holland and they would bring over lots of them for us! Yum!

  2. Happy Belated Birthday Ignatius :)

    Free hand aeroplane.. impressive.
    I can never do like that. I need to make points with toothpicks before drawing on cakes, if not, sure won't look like what I intended it to be, LOL.
    My relatives just came back from Denmark and some other Scandinavian countries, it was a holiday trip for 20 days. They got me parlsocker, so happy. I didn't know what else to ask them to buy for me, if I read this earlier, I'll tell them to buy me stroopwafels too.

    Oh yes,thanks for the linkback.

  3. Hi WendyinKK,

    Thanks for dropping by. I have not heard of parlsocker but now I know what it looks like after googling it.

    But you are mistaken, stroopwafels are only available in Belgium and Netherlands. :)

  4. Strop waffles can now b found in most Starbucks around the world.
    U typically find them in organic shops in Europe


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