Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Cake...

Okay, as promised - here is the cake I made for my son's fourth birthday this past Wednesday. Many thanks go to Kay Martin at Kitchen Scrapbook, because hers was the first blog I happened upon when I did a Google search of Lightning McQueen and birthday cakes.

My son is a Cars nut. We've watched the DVD so many times that I had to replace it because we wore it out (oh, and that he used to take it upon himself to get it to watch didn't do the disc a whole lot of good, either.) He was Lightning McQueen for Halloween last year. True, he wore the costume for all of about five minutes, but stilll...

He has Cars up the wazoo, from the die-cast metal cars of each character, to his bedding. The Boy. Loves. Cars.

Well, last year, I ordered his cake from the bakery. They did a lovely job. But this year, I was feeling very domestic and I thought (and I should know better by now. When I think this, nothing good can come of it) "How hard can it be? I betcha I can do a Lightning McQueen cake."

So, as any good researcher will do, my first step was to try out my Google-fu. That led me to the aforementioned Kitchen Scrapbook blog and a step-by-step on how to make a Lightning McQueen birthday cake.

And let the games begin. :)

The night before his birthday, I baked the cake. Basic. Yellow. Cake. When it was cooled, I froze it (it's easier to slice that way) and the next morning, after both kids left for school, the fun began.

The cake was originally 13x9. I cut it down to approximately 11x7 and put the sliced off pieces aside for later use. I wish I had taken a picture of the cake, but I didn't. Oh well. Imagine a cut-up yellow cake.

Now, the blog called for using fondant. As a reader of Cake Wrecks, I know that fondant is a huge no-no. But, the pictures on Kay's blog looked good, so I asked Cake Wrecks for forgiveness (and thought I could always submit my own wreck later on. See, you gotta keep positive!) and trekked to Michael's to buy two boxes of white fondant, and jars of food coloring paste. I didn't even know there was such a thing as food coloring paste before looking up this cake. There is much to learn from the internet!

Remember that piece I sliced off to use later? I used it to form Lightning's cab. Then, I iced the whole mess:

See the laptop in the background? I had it with me to double check my car against the one on Kitchen Scrapbook. So far, mine only sort of resembles anything remotely resembling a car... Oh well. I'm not the most artistic tool in the shed.

Once Lightning's got his primer coat on (I think I was supposed to make buttercream frosting, but I used Betty Crocker icing. Worked for me. Bakers everywhere might be wincing, though), it was time for the fondant...

I opened the first box of fondant. If you don't know what it is, the best way I can think of to describe it is edible Play-Doh. I mixed red food coloring paste into the fondant. I suppose the smart way to do it would have been to wear gloves. But I don't necessarily think things like this through. Ergo, I had no gloves. Ergo-ergo, I had red hands when I was done, because to blend in the color, I had to knead the hell out of the fondant - just like Play-Doh. I tried to get a picture of my hands, but the red didn't really show up. Trust me - they were red. I washed them a dozen times when I was done, and the red became pink. I could live with pink.

So, when I was finished kneading the fondant, I rolled it out, then rolled it around the rolling pin, only to unroll it over the cake:

I used a lot of powdered sugar to keep the fondant from sticking, and it got everywhere. But here, it kind of looks like Lightning. It's red. I'm off to a good start, no?

I cut and tucked and pinched until the fondant was the right shape and put the leftovers in a Zip-Loc bag for later use.

Then it was on to the detail...

I painted his eyes on with royal blue and black food coloring and a small paint brush. His windows and smile are just white fondant (and to think, I originally figured I'd use only one box of the stuff. I needed both boxes and should have gotten the box of colored fondant as well - I'll explain later.)

Next, I mixed black food coloring into the fondant. Remember how my hands were now pink from the red coloring? That pink mixed very nicely with the black to turn my hands purple. Yep. I was now purple. Great.

The wheels are black and red fondant, held to the body with toothpicks because as I worked, it became more apparent that I wasn't making Lightning McQueen - it looked more like Doc Hudson (or Doc Holliday, as I kept calling him for some stupid reason) wearing a Lightning McQueen costume. Oh well. The proportions were a little... off.

Okay, so the lightning bolt isn't exactly as it appears on the car. As an artist, it seems I make a damn fine writer. Doesn't it look more like Doc Holliday Hudson?

The 95 is yellow and red food coloring paste painted on fondant cut into the numbers, blended in the middle to make it more orange-y, and outlined with black food coloring paste. I'm amazed at how steady my hand remained, considering I'd been working on this  $#%@ car for about three hours at this point, and had gone through 2 pots of coffee...

I'd taken the track off, and put it back when I was thisclose to finished. The "dirt" is graham cracker crumbs. I kind of cheated with the lettering - it's candy and I bought it at the Stop n' Shop. My handwriting is bad enough in pen or pencil. It's absolutely illegible in icing, I swear.

See the computer page in the background? I was feeding my Hatchlings on Facebook on coffee breaks. =)

You'll notice he has no Rust-Eze stickers - I would have needed brown fondant, and I didn't have any (should have bought the box of the colored stuff). Besides, I was already purple and didn't even want to think what color my hands would turn if I tried to make brown. I thought about using the top of one of extra cupcakes I'd baked for the Boy to take to school - since they were iced in chocolate. I tried it, and it looked like a nose. So, this is Lightning before he had corporate sponsors. =)

And voila! Lightning McQueen (or Doc Holliday Hudson in disguise). The Boy was thrilled, and everyone was duly impressed that I managed to get it to even slightly resemble Lightning McQueen. As I said, as an artist, I make a damn fine writer. Still, it was fun. It took about 4 hours, not including the baking and cooling time, and should I attempt to do this again (and I will because the Girl's birthday is coming up and she's already bugging me about her cake. I'm hoping it's B.O.B. from Monsters vs Aliens because - let's face it - that would be impossible to screw up!) I know what to do and what not to do as well!

And again, a million thanks to Kay Martin - who inspired me to try my hand at this in the first place!

PS - I tried to get a picture of my purple hands, but the light just wasn't letting that happen (it had gone from a sunny day to a cloudy one and the kitchen lights didn't show up the purple in all it's purply glory. It's now what? three days later? Around my fingernails is still purple. It's coming off, but taking its sweet-ass time doing so! 


AstonWest said...

Ah, fun times! :-)

The things we'll go through for children.........

I thought it looked good, myself.

Kim said...

All in all, I was pleased with how it came out, but I don't think anyone will be calling me and begging me to make one for their kid! :D

It was fun and the Boy loved it, so it was well worth it.