Monday, August 19, 2013

The Making of the Lightening McQueen Car

Warning: Long Post Ahead

This cake was one of the biggest baking project that I have undertaken. When I had baked a rainbow cake for Arnav in 2012, I had decided that I will try something new at his every birthday. As per my plan I was planning to bake a train cake and I started researching on it in July. While I was checking out ideas and tips to make a train cake I realised I could also make a car cake. Arnav is such a big fan of cars that I cannot tell you and of all Cars Lightening McQueen is his favourite. So I decided to throw the ball in his court and asked him to choose between a car cake & a train cake. No prizes for guessing what he chose!

The major hurdle that I anticipated in making the cake was that of Fondant. I say hurdle because a) I had never handled it before and had heard many horror stories about it & b) It was not easily available where I live. I decided to worry about the former later and went out searching for the product. I was fortunate because I managed to find a shop which though was far but still in Navi Mumbai. I also did some Internet search and came across this Baker Smart. They are based out of Bangalore and have a wonderful variety of Baking Supplies. The rates that they were offering me were half the rate that I was getting here so I decided to take a risk and ordered the stuff from them. I say risk because I had never heard about them before I stumbled across their site and I did not even check for their reviews before transferring 1000+ bucks in their account. All in good faith. Thankfully they did not disappoint me but I will review them separately otherwise this will be one mammoth post (just like the cake :D).

Here I must add that I ordered the stuff in July end but all of the above was the part of research that I did beforehand.
Towards the end of July I started reading various blogs and tutorials about how to make a car cake. I started making notes, read about how to handle fondant and realised few thing
  1. 99% of the articles I was reading were from out of India
  2. As soon as I had received the fondant (a week before his birthday) I had kept it in refrigerator. Guess what was the 1st line of all the “How to handle Fondant” articles? DO NOT REFRIGERATE THE FONDANT. We live & we learn
  3. There is always an easy way out you just need to explore a lot.
Since his birthday was falling on Friday I decided to bake one cake on Wednesday & other on Thursday. I baked two cakes as backup also after I had measured my tin I had realised that ultimately my cake might turn out to be very small…which actually didn’t happen.

I used Gayathri’s recipe for egg less marble cake

For The Cake:

Vegetable Oil -1/2 cup
Granulated Sugar-1 1/4cups
Flour/ Maida- 2 1/4cups
Baking Powder-3/4tbs
Curd -1/2cup
Milk- 1 + 1/4cups
Vanilla Essence-1tsp
Cocoa Powder-1 1/2tbs

Preheat oven at 180C. Grease and dust a pan. In a bowl mix flour and baking powder and mix well. In another bowl beat Oil and sugar until fluffy, add vanilla essence and curd and beat again until fluffy. Add in 1 cup of milk and flour and mix with a wooden spatula.

Divide the batter into 2 equal portions. To one portion add cocoa powder and 1/4cup of milk and mix to combine. Add alternate layers of vanilla batter & chocolate batter and when that is done finally with a knife, make spiral motions inside the batter to obtain the marble effect.

Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a tooth pick inserted comes out clean. The baking time varies from oven to oven. I use LG Convection Microwave and it takes 60 mins at least to cook a cake in the convection mode.

After 5-10minutes, invert the pan on a wire rack and remove pan. Allow it to cool completely.

After the cake was ready I allowed it to cool overnight and then packed it in a cling film and stored it in refrigerator. I did so because it carving is a little easier that ways. I baked another cake on Thursday using this recipe. This cake however didn't turn out that well because I had used Blue Bird Baking Powder which spoiled my cake.

I knew that Friday would be loaded (I was making noodles for the party plus we also had to do decorations) so I decided to do some preliminary preparations. I took the fondant made three balls, big, small & smallest colouring them in red, yellow & black. This reduced my workload for next day.

Fondant - 1/2 kg
Colours used - Red, Black & Yellow

How to colour the Fondant

I would suggest you to visit this site- Working with fondant . It gives you enough tips to make you comfortable. You should use only gel colours with fondant because liquid colours bring in moisture which is not good for Fondants also gel colours are more vibrant. Initially take a little colour adding on a little at a time. After colouring the balls I covered them with cling film. You should ensure that you never leave the fondant out in open. It SHOULD always remain covered and remain in a dry place.

Colored & readied!

Next day I took out the cake and followed the tips used in this video.

I measured my cake, mentally dividing it into three equal parts and finally carving out the third part. I then cut the carved part into two equal parts and loaded it on the remaining cake. Then I carved the remaining cake as depicted in the video. I then applied homemade butter cream frosting on the cake and refrigerated it (it helps the frosting to settle down). 

Carved out!
Frosting applied

Tools that you will need for working with the fondant. I would suggest you to keep these ready beforehand because the next part needs loads of concentration and keeping everything handy helps

1. Icing Sugar/ corn flour for dusting
2. Thick rolling pin. Since I didn’t have one my FIL found the fat silver pipe that you can see me using in the pictures
3. A sharp cutter, scale, paint brush, pizza cutter and water in a small bowl.
4. Also keep the model of the car that you are making in front of you

Soften the red fondant by gently kneading it and then roll it out on a clean surface. Apply a little icing sugar or corn flour over a clean surface and roll the fondant. Thickness of the rolled out fondant should be ¼” (If it is too thin it might break while you are stretching it out). Once that is ready roll it over on the pin and spread it out on the car (which you should take out of the refrigerator). Let it lie there for couple of seconds before you start working on it. Once it is settled gently give the fondant a shape over the car by pulling and stretching it. Cut out the extra fondant from under the car.

Red Fondant rolled out.

The cake gets new clothes!

Work In Progress

Similarly you should roll the remaining fondants and cutting the required shapes (Front screen, headlights, windows, name on the top, finer details on the side body of the car etc.). To paste these individual items on to the car, all you need to do is apply a little water with a brush and pat it on the car. I made tyres by rolling out small black balls and red balls and pinned it to the car with a toothpick. For the finer details in the tyre I just carved the lines with a knife. And voila my car was ready.


The problems or rather the lessons that I learned while making the car were
  1. I felt that red fondant could have been a little thinner.
  2. I didn’t know where to keep the cake after it was ready. The problem was that all the sites that I had referred to were from out of India where the temperatures are low. India however is a hot country so where I kept the cake it started sweating. I could not keep the cake in fridge because fondant & moisture don’t go together. When I kept it out it was sweating and I had no Indian site to refer to about solutions.
  3. Getting the products. If you are planning to make this plan much in advance.
  4. Keeping the child away from the car was a huge problem :D
  5. You need to plan the whole thing properly. Like you should know which baking dish you plan to use because the car's size is dependant on that. The bigger the dish the bigger the car. I had done all the measurements well in advance and I had even cut out the small shapes like windows, windscreen etc on paper and that helped a lot.
  6. Your heart will break when the cake is being cut. When Arnav was cutting through the cake I was like, it comes this? All me effort will be gone in one second? Poof!!
Sites I referred to for tips
Each of these sites carve the cake differently you can choose the method which looks easiest to you. I preferred the one shown in the video. It is super easy & quick.

If you ask me to rate myself I feel I fared well. I am not trained to decorate cakes and all this was done by learning via various sites so for an amateur I think I did well!!!


  1. beautiful mcqueen cake
    later will be back to watch the video

  2. Wow! Nice post and the cake looks absolutely beautiful.. Do visit my blog..

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