Here's a step-by step guide to how to make the race track base I made for my Lightning McQueen cake. You could use this idea to make a race track base for another kind of cake (truck, motorcyle, go-cart etc). It's relatively simple to make, and is a good way to ease yourself into working with fondant.
To make the race-track base you will need:
* One layer cake measuring around 35 x 26cm and about 4cm thick. Click here to go to the recipe I used.
* 2 cups buttercream frosting (I used an all-butter buttercream, the recipe is at the bottom of this post)
* 500g white fondant (though you won't use all of it and can use the rest for details on the car)
* 250g black fondant
* Cornflour/ Cornstarch, or powdered sugar, or crisco/ vegetable shortening (for rolling out the fondant and preventing sticking to the bench)
* Small square cutter around 2cm square
* Rolling pin
* Palette knife
* Sharp, non-serrated knife and clean ruler
* Tall glass filled with hot water
* Parchment/ baking paper
* A cake decorating turntable, if you have one
Let your cake cool down to room temperature. Place your cake on the serving board you are going to serve it on. (I couldn't as I was going to have to freeze this cake and my serving board wouldn't fit in my freezer so I decorated it on a cutting board covered in parchment paper, and later transferred it to the serving board once defrosted.)
Frost the cake with your buttercream. If your cake has exposed, cut edges, crumb-coat these first. Make the frosting reasonably thick - it tastes better that way.
Smooth off the frosting using your palette knife dipped in the hot water. Try to get it as smooth and even as you can. If possible, refrigerate the cake for 10 -15 minutes while you do the next step.
Break off just under half of your white fondant (about 250g) and mix in with some of the black (you don't need much), until you get a grey colour you are happy with. I left the grey a little bit swirly as I liked that mottled effect for the road.
On a large flat surface lightly dusted with cornflour/starch, powdered sugar or vegetable shortening, roll out your fondant to about 2mm thick.
Decide on a width for your road and use a ruler and sharp, non-serrated knife to cut it out. I use a steel ruler that I sterilize in the dishwasher and only use for cake decorating projects.
Transfer the road to your cake top by wrapping it around your rolling pin.
Trim the edges.
I recently bought this nifty little set of shape cutters which have proven to be invaluable for fondant decorating.
Roll out a small piece of both your black and white fondant on a dusted surface. (Working in small amounts at a time will help prevent the fondant drying out).
Begin cutting the squares out and placing them side by side on the cake. Don't worry about dust left by cornstarch or powdered sugar, this will be absorbed by the fondant and will be gone by morning.
Keep working until you have filled in all the space. You will have to cut special shapes to fill in the corners. Repeat on the other side.
To create some rocks for the candles to go in, make three (or however many you need) natural-looking rock shapes from left-over grey fondant and poke the candles in. Don't place them on the cake yet though as they will meld to the fondant beneath.
To store: Drape reasonably loosely with clingfilm/ gladwrap and leave on the benchtop. Never refrigerate a fondant covered cake or store in an airtight container as it will sweat badly.
Notes: I used cornflour to roll out my fondant (hence the dusty-ness). Next time I will try vegetable shortening as the air in my apartment is horribly dry and the fondant began to crack a little in places. This can also happen if you use too much cornflour or powdered sugar.
If you have any questions about this how-to, please don't hesitate to ask me... just leave a comment below and I will answer any questions you have.
When a pure white colour is not needed, an all-butter buttercream, made without any shortening, is always delicious...
* 215g butter
* 5ml vanilla extract
* 480g icing/ confectioners' sugar
* 30ml milk
Cream butter and vanilla extract together.
Blend in sugar, a third at a time.
Beat in milk and keep beating until light and fluffy.