Little Man had asked for a special Lightning McQueen cake for his 3rd birthday. We made the base, shaped the cakes and glued it all together as described in my previous post.
Step 4: let’s ice this racing car cake
Then it was time to get on with icing.
By this time Baby had fallen asleep. It was past 11 pm and in discussing how to go about it with my friend, it sort of transpired that this was her first time decorating a cake too.
I thought I was working with a pro! …that’s why I had taken on the challenge so bravely.
However, it also turned out that while Jenny had not done cake decorating herself, she was well-prepared, had done her homework and she came from a family with a long-standing tradition in cake decorating.
I was in safe hands! … and you, my dear reader can be too by watching a couple of easy YouTube tutorials. (Comment below on any that have been helpful)
Colouring the icing for the cake
We used a some pre-coloured icing which comes in packs.
These are ready to roll and usually come in packs of 5 bright colours. However, you do pay for the convenience, the packs are rather pricey.
The red, just for the shear quantity needed (about 1kg), we had to make up from ready-made white fondant and red colouring paste.
For a good colour: Buy the quality colouring paste that is available at specialist shops and goes a long way! It will give full colour to the fondant, unlike the liquid food colouring that is generally available in the supermarkets.
You kneed the paste into the fondant, gradually adding more and more to get the right colour.
Rolling out the icing
We embarked on rolling out the fondant- it broke and stuck to the surface.
Tearing our hair out, we tuned into YouTube, where a nice gentleman talked us through the process of rolling it out… with plenty of icing sugar underneath.
It was a case of third time lucky by the time we managed to roll out the fondant nice and thin, sticking to the worktop only in one small patch. As we lifted the icing onto the cake it tore in one small place. We decided to patch up instead of redoing it.
Covering the cake with icing
We draped the icing onto the cake, working around smoothing it into the bumps and eventually ending up with a car shape. Be gentle with it at this point!
Once the icing was tucked in, around the bottom, we cut off the excess and started with the other bits- the windows, which are Lightning McQueen’s eyes, his mouth, headlights, etc.
The cake comes alive from the details
The headlights got the glitter treatment with special cake decorating glitter.
The wheels were made entirely from black icing. I had planned to use Oreos, but thought the chunky wheels from icing looked better. I cut out the red icing to make place for the wheels with an egg cup. Then even scratched some tread on the tyres.
The lightning on the side was cut from yellow icing, then I used a red food colouring pen to attempt the transition of colours from yellow to red. … the results… well, you can be the judge. (Not very good in my opinion, but good enough. Especially at 2am!)
Jenny painstakingly wrote Little Man’s name onto the front badge with icing rolled out into a thin thread.
The only bit that couldn’t go onto the cake that night was the spoiler on the back of the car: I made this up from red icing and left it in a cupboard to dry.
On the day of the birthday party I had actually forgotten where I had put it, but after searching high and low, finally found it. It had not dried out in 3 days! It broke as I tried to put it on the cake. Eventually, I pinned it together with toothpicks and covered it in another thin layer of red icing. It was then held onto the back of the car by about 7 (!) toothpicks.
The cake, finished at about 2.30 am, rested in a top cupboard covered by a cloth to protect it from curious eyes till the big reveal.
On the day, we put 3 candles in front of it- red, amber, green- just like on a racecourse.
The delight on Little Man’s (and the other children’s) faces was worth all the hours spent slaving over this cake.
Truth be told, I actually loved the process of creating this cake. It was fairly easy to get the shape right and there were lots of good resources from those who had done it before me.
A huge thank you goes to my friend Jenny for the help and encouragement. Though it was a bit like the blind leading the sightless from time to time, working together was fun, inspirational and definitely fruitful.
And I think that’s the best bit about home-made birthday cakes- you can use it to have some time with a friend!
Check out some other cakes we’ve made together.