Here are the step-by-step instructions for making and decorating the race car part of my Lightning McQueen cake. For part one of the cake (how to make the race-track base), please click here.
I used a matchbox sized Lightning McQueen to work from. I recommend using a toy to work from to help you get the right contours and proportions. These would be difficult to get right from using just pictures.
To make and decorate the car, you will need:
* 1 layer cake measuring around 35 x 26cm, and around 4cm high. Click here to view the recipe I used. The metric version of this recipe is at the bottom of this post.
* 1 & 1/2 cups buttercream frosting. (For my recipe, please refer to my previous post on the race-track base cake - the recipe is at the bottom).
* Sharp, non-serrated knife
* 250g red fondant
* Leftover black fondant from your race track base (approx 125g)
* 125g white fondant
* Rolling pin
* Cornflour/cornstarch, powdered sugar or Crisco/vegetable shortening for rolling out the fondant and preventing it from sticking to the bench.
* Pen, pencil, paper & ruler
* Small piece of stiff cardboard (for the spoiler)
* 2 toothpicks
* Fine paintbrush
* Black paste food colouring
* Alphabet cutters (if you want to put the child's name on the cake in fondant)
Making the car shape out of cake:
First, you need to determine how big you want the car to be. I drew around my matchbox car and then enlarged this outline on the photocopier until it was the size I wanted. My car was around 25cm long.
Place your cake on a large piece of parchment paper and place on top of a cutting board. Cut out the car outline from the piece of paper and place on the cake. Cut around with your knife. Set all the leftover cake aside.
First crumb coat the car base (as you will have exposed edges). Then frost this car base with a reasonably generous amount of your buttercream.
To build the roof part, place your car shaped piece of paper back on the leftover cake and make two marks with your knife either side, just behind the front tyres.
Your first cut will be the windscreen. Angle your knife to create the downward slope of the windscreen and cut between your two knife marks. Cut the sides and cut downwards for the roof slope. Refer to your "model" as you go, to get the contours right. I ended up shaving a little bit more off here and there to get the shape I wanted.
Transfer this roof to the car and frost it in your buttercream.
Next up are the contours on the bonnet of the car. Cut two, long, tear-drop like shapes and place them on top. You can squish them a little bit with your fingers to round them off. Frost them.
That is the basic car shape completed. Now for the fondant and all those decals!
Decorating the car:
Begin with draping your car form with red fondant. Roll out your fondant on a dusted surface until it is around 2mm thick. Make sure you have enough fondant to cover the car in one go. As I said in my previous post about creating the race track base, don't worry about the dust left by powdered sugar or cornstarch as this gets absorbed by the fondant and will disappear overnight.
Transfer the fondant to the car by wrapping it a little around a rolling pin.
At this point I started squealing with delight and my husband came running into the kitchen... I was like a little kid "look what I made! I made a car!!!"
Once you are happy with the way the fondant looks, trim the excess fondant from around the bottom of the car.
Now for the details:
Next make some indents on the bonnet and windscreen, as shown, with a knife. Don't cut all the way through the fondant.
Roll out a small amount of white fondant and cut the eyes out. Hold them up to the windscreen of the car to see if they look right. Trim them if necessary, then brush the reverse side with a little water and stick them down.
Make indents for the side windows as you did for the bonnet and windscreen. Hold up a small piece of paper and copy the shape of the outline onto paper. Cut this out.
Roll out some black fondant and cut around your window. Chop it in half, using your model as a guide, and stick the windows on with a little water.
Mix a tiny bit of white and black fondant together to make little rivets for the bonnet, and "glue" them on with a little bit of water.
Indent the roof as shown, then cut four strips of black fondant and stick them down.
Cut the mouth out, exposing the buttercream underneath.
Roll a thin sausage of white fondant and poke it into the mouth cavity, trimming off the excess.
To paint the eyes, mix a little blue food colouring paste with some vodka, rejuvenating spirit (a type of alcohol that is used for cake decorating purposes, available at cake decorating stores) until you get the desired shade.
Practice on some scraps of fondant first. Paint two circles of blue, using your model as a guide.
Once dry, paint two black irises and then outline in black. You could use an edible pen for this outline also. I used a dark brown edible pen because that was what I had lying around.
Now for the wheels. You can make the wheels several ways. One way is to make them entirely out of black fondant. In all honesty, if I had my time to do again, this is what I would do as the wheels I made (circles of cake covered with fondant and then inserted into the tyre arches), looked good but lacked "structural integrity". They began to look a little "flat" after the main body of the car weighed down on them.
Then I cut four little circles out of cake, using the same cutter, and frosted them with a little buttercream.
Then I rolled out some black fondant and covered each one, trimming away the excess.
Then I took a smaller cutter and cut away the middle of each tyre.
I then mixed a little red and black fondant to make a maroon colour and cut out a circle using the same cutter as the previous step. I stuck it down, then used a slightly smaller cookie cutter to make a round indent. Then I used the dark brown edible pen to draw a dot in the middle and around the indent.
I put a little buttercream in the wheel arch and squished the wheels in to the cake.
The other (and easiest) way you could do it is to cut out the wheels as above, and insert a circle of black fondant in the place of the red circle you remove.
For the spoiler, cut a rectangle of cardboard just slightly smaller than the width of your car's rear. Push it down into the car until it reaches the bottom. Make a mark on the part that is sticking out to indicate your desired height. Pull the cardboard out again gently.
Cut the spoiler out with slightly curved corners as shown.
Cover the top part of the spoiler that will stick out, in red fondant. Paint the reverse side of the fondant with a little water to help it stick to the cardboard.
Push the spoiler down into the car. If it looks unstable you could prop it up with a couple of toothpicks.
Once you have done the spoiler, the rest is all decoration. Decide how detailed you'd like the rest of the car to be. I simplified my car down to just a few decals - the brown circle on the bonnet, the lightning on the sides (after all, what would Lightning McQueen be without the lightning?), and the writing on the roof.
To make the number "95" for the roof (or like me, the name and age of the birthday boy), paint some white fondant with red, that graduates into orange and then into yellow.
Cut out with alphabet cutters. I also outlined mine in dark brown which I applied with a fine paintbrush. Stick down to the cake with a little water.
For the lightning (sorry my photos of this didn't turn out), hold up some paper to the side of the car and draw the lightning freehand using your model as a guide. Cut this out and hold it up against the car again. If it looks right, use it to cut out one side, turn your template over and use it to cut out the other side. Stick down to the cake with a little water and make a black outline if you like.
Mix a little black fondant with some red and yellow to make a brown and cut a circle out for the bonnet decal. I also outlined this in some dark brown. I didn't attempt the word "Rust-eze", as it was already midnight and, well, I couldn't figure out how to do it. :)
I jotted the headlights onto a piece of paper and once I cut them out I held them up to the car to see if they looked right. I then cut them out of white fondant using this template and painted them free-hand. You could leave them plain white or make them from black fondant if you don't want to paint them.
Transferring the car to the race-track base:
I have to admit I freaked out at this point! I used the parchment (baking) paper and slid the cake off the chopping board onto the cake. I then used a very sharp knife to cut around the bottom of the cake and took away the parchment paper that was showing. If you do this, you should probably warn whoever is cutting the cake that there is parchment paper just so no one gets a nasty surprise in their piece!
I think that's it! If you have any questions, please let me know. Leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.
White Layer Cake recipe (metric)
250g plain (cake) flour, sifted
200g granulated sugar
3.5 tsps baking powder
0.5 tsp salt
120g butter, softened
1.5 tsp vanilla extract/ essence
4 egg whites at room temperature
Preheat oven to 175 degrees celcius. Grease and flour two 22cm round layer cake pans and line the bottoms with waxed paper; set aside. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large mixer bowl. Add butter, milk and vanilla.
Beat on slow speed until blended. Then beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add unbeaten egg whites (yes, UNbeaten - that's the trick), and beat two minutes longer at medium speed.
Pour batter into prepared pans and bake at 175 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes or until cake is light golden brown and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool 15 minutes in pans, then carefully remove layers from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
Fill and frost with your favorite frosting.