I would like to preface this post with this note:
I am not a cake artist. I do not make "carved cakes." I rarely make 3D cakes of any kind. When my good friend asked me to make a fire truck cake for her son, I obliged, knowing it wasn't exactly my "wheelhouse," but her son is my guys' best friend, so how could I say no?! (Only later did she tell me that she didn't mean a 3D cake. Alas!)
What You Need:
2- 9x13" cakes (baked and cooled) - I used doctored cake mix for this cake.
1-2 batches Decorator's Buttercream Icing
Approx. 8 oz. of homemade or store-bought fondant
Icing Colors in red, black and yellow
Silver Pearl Dust
Sturdy base for cake - I would recommend foam-core board or particleboard
doctored them up to make them taste a little yummier.
*Note: Level both cakes. Even if you think they're level. Level them with a cake leveler anyway. Just to be sure! (I didn't, and that's one of the reasons the cab of my truck is leaning forward.)
Cut and assemble your base. I don't have a photo of this because this was another of my failures with this cake. My base was just cardboard, so it was not strong enough to support the weight of the cake. That's why the front of the cake is leaning forwards a little... that, and I didn't level the white cake.
I recommend using foam-core board. Cut it to about 12"x 4-1/8" Then, cut another piece of foam core smaller, about 10 1/2" x 3". That way, your cake "stands" above the black base the cake will "drive on." (If you want, cover that in black contact paper so that it blends in with the black board below, and you won't see the base at all.)
This base will then go on to whatever board or plate that you want to serve the cake from. I used cardboard covered with black paper and contact paper- to resemble a road.
Decorator's Buttercream Icing. You'll want to take out about 2 cups for white, and 1 cup for grey. The remaining 3 cups will be colored red.
See my post about Coloring Icing, and the one about No-Taste Red Coloring for more info on getting the colors right.
Making the Fondant Accents:
You will need about 8 oz. of either homemade or store-bought fondant. I used marshmallow fondant. You need most of it to be white, but about a golf-ball sized amount of black, and just a pinch of red and yellow.
You can use the top and bottom of an Icing Tip #12 to cut the circles. The large circles come from the base of the tip, the small circles from the top.
Gum-Tex or combine the fondant with an equal amount of Gum Paste. (You can buy either at the craft store, cake supply store or online.) I used Gum Tex, and only used 1/4 tsp. with about a baseball-sized piece of fondant, and that turned out not to be enough. My fondant never got hard enough to do with it what I wanted. So, use more Gum Tex. Maybe 1/2 tsp. or more.
Shaping The Cake:
Here's a Template for how to cut the cake: (if you have two different flavors.)
*Note: I just realized that if you have just one flavor, you could save a lot of trouble... you would need just 1 1/2 cakes. And you would use two halves stacked on top for the bottom two layers... add one more half (or two)... and just cut into one of them where your "dip" is behind the engine. Hmmm. Next time.
For the engine, you'll then cut one of the two halves into thirds, like you see above.
Cut the other cake as you see in the other template. Cut in half, then cut off the top third (about 4 1/8" in). Then take about 1 1/2-2 inches off one of the remaining chocolate halves. (Stick with me, it makes sense when you see it! Sorry I didn't take more photos!)
So... if I'd have done it right, the bottom of the cake is the whole length of the half cake. See?
Then you use two of the three "thirds" of the same cake to make the engine. (You could use all three, but I found that the cake was too tall and out of proportion with all three full pieces. You can see that I added a teeny, thin slice of the third to mine-- that's again because of my leveling issue.)
For the back, I would recommend just using the two pieces. You've removed the top 1/3 of the cake, so it should fit on the bottom layer flush... and for the top one, cut about 1 1/2-2 inches off to make the little dip where the dials and levers go. (Again, you can use the remaining 1/3 as another layer if you wish... it's pretty much the exact same size as the other pieces, so that's up to you. I used all three because it ended up getting rather short once I leveled it.)
*Note: I used Bake-Even Strips to help keep the cakes level... which in the end means that they are taller because I don't have to level off as much of the "dome" that forms. I highly, highly recommend these. If you have the "regular-sized" ones, you can just put them end-to-end around a 9x13 pan, and they work perfectly!
*Note: Add some icing between the front section and the back section. Again, if you just use one flavor, this won't be as much of an issue, but my engine started to crack forward a little at the end. I needed to add some icing between the sections to help glue them together as well.
Icing the Cake:
Whether you crumb coat it or not, I would always start with the lightest color... and move on to the darkest color. Honestly, skipping the white would also be a good idea, and just make the whole thing red. I only added the white because that is what our fire trucks in our city look like. (Although in truth the top of the back is also white, but I had to draw the line.)
Decorator's Buttercream Icing, or another "crusting" icing, you can smooth the icing with a Viva brand paper towel (other brands are embossed and will leave a pattern on the cake).
Finish the Cake
Food Writer markers.
The cake was well-crusted, so I brushed the back of the decorations with clear vanilla to get them to stick.
Click the Links Below to See:
How to Doctor a Cake Mix
Decorator's Buttercream Icing Recipe
How to Ice the Corners of a Cake
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