My son is a huge Red Arrows fan, they are the British aerobatic jet plane display team. He wanted a Red Arrows cake, so I decided to make him a cake with the Red Arrows in formation. Usually there are 9 planes in a full formation, but since he was turning 6, I made only 6 planes.
The cake itself was a 2-layer 9x13inch vanilla sponge (2 cake mixtures), sandwiched with boiled seedless raspberry jam, and whipped buttercream. It was then covered with more whipped buttercream (butter, icing sugar, whole milk, and vanilla essence beaten for 15min+ with an electric beater). I dyed the icing pale blue for the sky, and used candy balls in Red, White and Blue to cover the sides of the cake.
The Red Arrows themselves were made of Royal Icing, in red, white and blue. I used a pale blue for the cockpit ‘windscreen’ and dark blue for the tail and ensigns (red, white and blue roundels). I formed the body from solid red icing, and used a cocktail stick through long-ways to give it a bit of structural stability (the icing was rather floppy). Pieces of red, white and blue ribbon were inserted into the tail end of the planes (the smoke trails that the Red Arrows are famous for). I curled these ribbons to make it look like the plane has just ‘looped the loop’.
The tail fins and wings were knife-cut triangles, ‘glued’ on with a white spirit (I used gin, you are better off using vodka). This works really well to glue the pieces of icing together firmly – I used a very small paintbrush and used it very sparingly. I used a toy plane as the model, and worked very fast as the icing dried out very rapidly, sticking the various component parts onto the main body. The main tail fin had small pieces of blue and white icing rolled onto a red piece, and the triangle then cut out of this flat sheet.
The planes were then dried overnight in a sealed container. When the cake was ready to assemble, I pressed 2 cocktail sticks in to the main body of each of the front 3 planes (the body was still soft, the wings hard) and places them at various heights on the cake to indicate that the display team were flying ‘off’ the cake.
Originally I intended that an indoor sparkler (firework) was to go at the tail of each cake (to denote the afterburners) but the venue wouldn’t allow them for fire safety reasons :( So we used regular candles instead, and it still looked good.
It was the first time I had used Royal Icing, I don’t like the taste (neither does my son) but it is great for making models out of. However next time I think I may just buy the toy planes instead.
The important thing is that my son absolutely loved his cake, as did all of his friends!