This is probably one of the coolest things to come out of my kitchen, and I am so proud of it. I don’t mind figuring out this kind of cake acrobatics, but I am sure that it will be a lot easier and less daunting for mommies who want to bake the special birthday cake themselves. It’s so frustrating when you, as a home baker, cannot find any proper guidance on how to make these kinds of cakes.
My husband was my secret weapon in this project. When the closest thing to a tutorial I could find on the internet was an odd-looking stack of cake, he helped me be inspired by it to build our own helicopter. He could see the proportions and he did all of the carving – with only a little bit of help from me.
Bake at least one of the cakes the day before you want to build the helicopter. This ensures that both cakes are completely cooled down and set when you start cutting it up.
The recipe I used was 100% perfect for carving. I was amazed at how moist and delicious it was too! It is from Veena’s Art of Cakes: http://veenaartofcakes.blogspot.com/2012/01/dense-chocolate-cake-perfect-for.html
You will need ingredients to make this recipe three (3) times.
1. Make the cake batter once and bake it in a deep bundt cake pan. Mine was a rose bundt cake pan, which is why it has weird ridges on it. Try to rather use a smooth round bundt pan. The cake should be ±15cm high when it’s done.
2. Bake one rectangular cake with a double batch of the cake batter. Use a standard-size oven dish (± the size of a beer box). This will be the base, tail and other bits of the helicopter.
Use normal icing sugar to make buttercream icing. Simply follow the instructions on the packet. The general rule of thumb is 1:2 ratio of butter:icing sugar. Add milk or water (or both) and add the colour of your choice.
You will need ± 1-2 cups butter/margerine, and twice that in icing sugar.
You’ll also need a can of caramel condensed milk to stick the cake pieces together and add a little bit of moisture. You can use strawberry or apricot jam if you prefer it.
I used store-bought marzipan/fondant icing to make the yellow stars and the windows. It’s easy to use if you remember to not overwork it and keep powdering it with icing sugar if it gets sticky. You can also opt to just pipe the windows and stars on with a different colour buttercream icing.
Use chocolate-covered pretzel sticks for the propeller blades. Melt baking chocolate, stick two pretzels together with it per blade, and stick all four blades together with a blob of chocolate in the middle. Let it dry on a piece of wax paper.
For the small blades, do the same with shorter pretzels. Because these will have to stick to the cake side-ways, you have to add an extra pretzel at the base of the X, that you can stick into the cake. So it’s like a little umbrella.
CARVING & BUILDING
1. Using a sharp serrated knife, carve two sides of the bundt cake away so that its shape is slightly oval, instead of round. We used a piece of stringy marzipan as a guide, but you can use normal string!
2. Place the bundt cake on top of the rectangle cake, right in the middle. You need to cut a base out of the rectangle cake and shape it so that it’s a perfect oval fit for the bundt. BUT keep the back side of the oval/teardrop straight so that the tail can connect to it.
3. Using the pieces left of the rectangle, cut two long pieces for the tail. Fit them together, and carve them to have a tail fin, and a little L-lip on the other end that lets it rest on the base, at the back of the bundt.
4. Using more of the leftover rectangle, cut a little cylinder to insert into the bundt hole. This is where you propellers will also be attached.
5. Disassemble everything, smear it with caramel and stick it all back together carefully on the tray you want to serve it on!
6. Apply your crumb coat of icing. This is a very thin layer of icing that acts as a barrier between the crumbs and your final layer of icing. Fill up the ridges, gaps and cracks on the cake when you do this coat. Scrape it all as thing as possible. Put the entire cake in the freezer for 15-25min, so that the crumb coat sets.
7. Apply the final coat of icing, thickly for a better-looking texture. Smooth it down with an icing scraper. This step can take quite long, but it is one of the most important so take your time!
8. Make the marzipan stars and windows. Roll out the coloured marzipan, poke the shape outlines with a toothpick, and cut with a knife. Then just press it onto the iced cake. You don’t need to wet the marzipan for it to stick!
9. Cover the button on top of the helicopter with black marzipan. Stick the big propellers onto it with extra icing sugar. Slide the small propeller into the tail of the helicopter.
10. Clean up the tray, and OPTIONALLY add popcorn to it to look like clouds.