Transporting a cake, despite how experienced you are or how much structure is holding it up, can always be nerve-wracking. I wouldn’t wish speed bumps while on a cake delivery on even my worst enemy. It’s scary, you care for the cake like it’s a newborn baby. While there are countless tutorials on how to travel by car with a cake, there aren’t many on how to travel with a cake on a plane… you read that right, Cakes On a Plane ( which may frighten you more than that movie with the snakes 😉 )
While you can totally bring a cake for a client/consumption on a plane with gadgets such as the Cake Safe or the Sugar Transporter, I’m going to talk about bringing a competition cake (not made for consumption) on a plane, which could be made of real cake, or could be made of styrofoam.
This past February I traveled from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Austin, Texas with a competition cake as a checked bag for one of the best cake shows in the country, That Takes the Cake Sugar Art Show and Competition.
With a minor casualty, while opening the box after it’s a long journey, the cake made it in one piece and won 3rd in the Professional Division (which I’m still kind of surprised about lol). To get a cake like this so far and in one piece does not take skill… it takes bubble wrap! So here is how I packaged this up:
First, you have to prepare your box, determine if you if you need to cut the sides so you have an easier time getting the cake inside the box. Also, I like to get a box slightly bigger than my base. This allows some room for our next few steps. While on the topic of the box, I highly recommend at this point that you add your rope handles ( simply cut a small hole in the side of the box, tie knots on both ends and then I like to secure with a few drops of gorilla glue). After the handles are attached, I then cut out a window in the box and hot glue pieces of thick vinyl to both the inside of the box and the outside. When you use two pieces you are able to use it as a folder essentially and insert a picture of what is on the inside of the box ( which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND)
Next, you have to prep your cake. When using real cake, I use a recipe that starts with a box mix and turns into an edible concrete. Anyways, once your cake is complete, giving it plenty of time so the fondant sets up firm (rock hard). Wrap the entire thing, starting from under the board, in plastic wrap. I buy a super cheap roll of it, and I tend to use the entire thing, especially for bigger cakes Also before you wrap, I recommend filling a lot of the excess space with balloons, just so you don’t have to worry about anything drooping or bouncing up and down. After the layer of plastic wrap to hold everything in place, you then want to wrap the entire thing in bubble wrap, I like to use the one with the small bubbles. After this second layer, it’s time to go in the box!
Insert your cake in the box, you need to reinforce the bottom of the box with extra tape and maybe some extra cardboard, depending on how heavy it is. After the cake is in the box, make sure there is no wiggle room for the board to slide around, I fill the excess spaces between the walls of the box and board with rolled up bubble wrap. After the board is nice and secure, you want to fill all of the excess space in the box, I use literally everything and anything I can find, but I can give you some guidance. For big spaces, I recommend blowing up balloons, they fill the space quickly and once you arrive at your destination they can be easily popped and thrown away. Other things you can use is soft foam, balled up bubble wrap, really anything you can find. I DO NOT recommend using packing peanuts, they are an absolute mess and a pain to throw away because they just like to stick to everything. For small spaces and gaps, I use brown packing paper, as it’s super cheap and get’s the job done. Fill your box to the brim, making sure there is absolutely no excess space. If there is space, that means your cake has a chance to move around which in turn gives things the opportunity to break
After you box is all stuffed, tape the edges really well sealing the box. If you are really concerned, I recommend using strips of cardboard and securing all of the box’s seams if you think your tape isn’t sticky enough.
You are now good to go and ready to have your cake be checked as luggage on a plane! Be ready to have to pay for an overweight fee, but I have found if I pay the overweight fee, JetBlue doesn’t make pay for oversized. Also, This last competition, JetBlue made me sign a non-closure agreement saying that anything that happens is not their fault, which is a really good idea and I was kind of surprised that it was the first time they gave me that.
My last piece of advice is to breathe, whatever happens, happens. Take lots of pics before you leave just in case it gets damaged in transit, and if it does, in fact, get damaged in transit all hope is not lost, judges will take that into consideration as long as you put that on the sheet with your cake’s information.
So, I hoped this helped and I wish you all of the luck in the world when traveling with your competition cakes!