Wednesday 9 July 2014

How to Make a Lightning McQueen Cake

In the months running up to Leo's 3rd Birthday, a theme was born. A cars theme. At the heart of Leo's desired theme lay a cake that he just had to have, a Lightning McQueen Cake. Whenever Leo's Birthday was discussed he would remind me about the Lightning McQueen Cake that he just had to have, so I began to think months ahead in an attempt to see if I could make this for him myself.

Each year I have given Leo's Birthday Cake my best shot, and I love that each cake has been handcrafted by me. They may not be the biggest and best cakes around, but I love that I have spent the time and tried my darnedest, and that smile on his face is because of what I did.

Baking Tin

I purchased a deep square silicone cake mould in preparation of baking this cake. This mould was the absolute perfect size and depth in order for me to construct Lightning McQueen in all his glory. I admittedly prefer silicone moulds over traditional tins, I find it so much easier to get the cake out hole at the end. 

Before getting started grease your cake tin, even if like me you decide to use a silicone mould. You will be glad you did this at the end!

What cake?

I baked a large Madeira cake as these are perfect for carving, and I knew that I was going to need a solid cake in order to achieve the desired finish. In my personal experience I advise to bake the cake a few days before so that you have chance to ice it. More on this later... 


- 375g unsalted butter

- 375g caster sugar 

- 6 eggs 

- 5 tablespoons milk

- 625g self-raising flour

- 3/12 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cake Method

- Firstly preheat your oven to 160 C.

- Zap the butter in the microwave until it is soft, and then cream the butter in with the caster sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.

- Take another bowl and crack the eggs into it. Beat the eggs with a fork and slowly add in the milk.

- Begin to add in spoonfuls of the egg mixture and flour into the main mixing bowl. 

- Use an electric whisk so that you can eliminate all of those lumps, until the mixture is completely smooth.

- Spoon the cake mixture into the cake tin.

- Bake in the oven for 1 -1/4 hours or until risen and golden brown. 

- Check with a skewer to make sure that the cake is cooked throughout. Once cooked remove and allow to cook before removing the mould.

Carving & Constructing your Lightning McQueen Cake

As mentioned earlier, I recommend baking your cake a few days before the cake is needed. I baked the Madeira cake two days before Leo's birthday so that I had time to get everything done for his birthday. 

Once your cake has cooled down it is time to remove it from the cake mould. With your square cake in front of you it is now time to get carving:

- First cut one third off your cake so that you are left with one big rectangle piece.

- With the one third cut off you have removed, cut that piece in half.

- Take one of the half pieces that you now have and place it on top of your rectangle cake. This is going to form the roof.

- Cut the remaining half portion into four slices.

-Trim the bottoms of the four slices you have just carved and position them on your rectangle. I found this bit rather tricky as I was conscious that I didn't want to over trim them. I found that it needed to be quite flat towards the front of the bonnet in order to be able to lay the icing on, and of course the decoration.

- You will need to cut holes for the wheels to sit in. This is where I got a little stumped as I wanted to make sure that all of the wheels were the same size.. I had a light bulb moment and decided to use Jammy Dodgers. I cut the holes using a Jammy Dodger as my stencil and this seemed to work quite well.

- Now trim the car roof you positioned earlier. Both the front and back need to be sloped, if you are un-sure have a look at a Lighting McQueen toy car that you are sure to have laying around...

- Once you are happy with how your Lightning McQueen shape is coming along, mix up some butter cream into a thick consistency so that you can spread it evenly all over your carving. You want to cover all of it so that you have a smooth surface to work on.

- Once you have butter creamed all of the car and ensured that each piece is sufficiently stuck in place, you need to place the cake in fridge for a few hours so that it can set. This is one of the reasons I baked the cake a few days before, and actually left it in over night so that I could get right on with decorating it the next day.

- Once your cake has chilled for a minimum of 2/3 hours, you can begin to ice it and add those touches that bring your cake to life. I visited a local cake shop to pick out the vibrant red icing and cheekily ordered the Lightning Mcqueen Cake toppers on ebay.

- I rolled out the icing and carefully put it straight onto my cake. I then went around smoothing it all over and cutting around the circumference of the cake with a sharp knife to get rid of the excess icing.

- With the icing on the cake and seeing it starting to look more like Leo's hero, I started to put the wheels together. Having used Jammy Dodgers to cut the holes it seemed only appropriate to use them on the actual cake, with a little black icing no one would know!

- I put the cake toppers on first using butter cream and made sure that I had all of the important trademarks to make sure Leo would recognise my creation as Lightning McQueen! 

- I rolled out some black icing and placed it around Lightning McQueen, and with the cake toppers in place I stuck the wheels onto the car. Now with those final touches... Leo's Lightning McQueen Cake was ready for his 3rd Birthday!

I am slightly impressed with how this cake turned out, admittedly I am no baker, and master decorator is a pie in the sky aspiration.. One that just isn't very realistic. But I gave it my best shot, and after hours of slugging in the kitchen Leo absolutely LOVED his birthday cake. It was worth every minute, ans I am so pleased I gave it a go. 

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