Posted: Friday October 07, 2011 6:52 PM
I have shipped many cakes but there are limitations as to size, shape, and decorations so that my method will work.
You need a deep cookie tin (4"). Measure the inside of the tin and decide whether to bake an 8" or 9" round cake. You need to have some space around the cake. It cannot be too snug. In other words, the tin should be around half an inch bigger than the cake you bake. 3/4" would be even better. Your cake will probably be 8", but you might be able to do a 9", if you find an extra big cookie tin.
Bake two layers and torte them, giving you 4 half layers. You will only use three of these layers. If you want, you can make cake balls with the leftover half layer.
Fill and thinly ice the other 3 half layers. Use only a single layer cake board, the same size as the cake. Since the cake is small, it will be ok. Make sure you cover the board so it does not absorb any grease that would compromise its strength. Cover the cake with either fondant or rolled buttercream. You cannot use regular buttercream because it will smudge beyond recognition. The fondant or RBC will help protect the cake.
Your decorations must lie flat against the cake! You can use royal icing, fondant, or rolled buttercream decorations cut with cookie cutters, frill cutters, etc. The decorations cannot stand out or you will not be able to properly protect the cake during shipping. Ribbon borders work too.
Carefully wrap the sides of the cake with folded sheets of Viva. Lay a sheet over the top. Measure the cake and see how close you are to the diameter of the cookie tin. Hopefully, you'll still have a quarter inch or a tiny bit more space. Wrap a length of bubble wrap around the cake (the bubble wrap should be the same height as the cake.) Cut a round piece of bubble wrap and place it on top. If the bubble wrap won't fit into the cookie tin, don't worry, just don't use it. In that case, use an extra layer of the Viva.
Cut 2 lengths of cellophane and cross them. Place the cake in the center and bring the ends up to the top of the cake, lay then ends down and tape them flat.
Cut two lengths of ribbon, cross them, and place the wrapped cake in the center. Bring the ends up to the center and tie into a bow. Double knot the bow for strength. Not too tight, not too loose. The ribbon and bow will serve as the "lifter" to place the cake into the cookie tin, and to lift it out.
Put the cake into the tin, place the lid on the tin and tape it down.
Get a large box. Throw in a good, thick layer of packing peanuts. Place the cookie tin onto the peanuts, fill the rest of the box with peanuts. Don't be chintzy with the peanuts. (If you want, you can enclose treat bags of those cake balls too. An extra treat!) Seal the box and send it off.
I have shipped probably 20 or more cakes this way, and every one has arrived in good shape. I know the limitations can be frustrating but they are important to the success of the shipping. Maybe someone else has devised another method to successfully ship cakes. If so, I would love to hear about it.
Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions.