Now my Little Man has just turned two and he loves fire engines, ambulances, police cars etc so I though I’d make him a fire truck cake for his birthday.
This one has been a big learning curve. The actual cake itself was easy enough, my regular cake recipe was used to make a square cake. I then cut this cake in half. There was a little sinking which I think may have been due to the Little Man turning the oven off during cooking. Still there was plenty enough cake left after freezing and trimming.
I then filled the cake with butter cream and then covered it in a coating of butter cream to make a base for the fondant icing. Tip: It’s best to wait 30-40 minutes after covering cake with butter cream before adding icing. This is something I’ve just learned and I’m hoping it will stop the problem I have with icing being too soft and squidgy.
I think I needed to be a little bolder in shaping the cake too. I always feel so wary about chopping away good bits of cake but sometimes you have to chop it off to get the shape you require. With this cake I know I didn’t chop enough away for the windscreen.
Next step was the fondant icing. I decided to colour white icing myself with red food colouring. I’ve used this method many times and it works ok, but this time I needed an awful lot of red to get the icing the right colour and it made the icing very soft and sticky. In future I would definitely consider buying coloured fondant, it would save a lot of work and look much better. The only other time I’ve had this problem is when making a black cake. Black and red are in my eyes the most difficult colours to achieve with food colouring.
Now as you can see from this photo, the combination of a soggy layer of butter cream with a layer of soft sticky fondant makes for a very untidy covering. I couldn’t smooth it out any better as the fondant was tearing. My only rescue was the fact that there would be a lot of decoration going on top of this cake which would hide a lot of the lumpiness. If I was making the cake for someone else I would have scrapped it at this point and started again. Sadly I didn’t have the time to do this for my little man so I just hoped I was going to get away with it.
So the next step was to decorate the truck. I used grey fondant, dyed with food colouring. I made the ladder a few days earlier so it would be stiff enough to stay straight. I also made a copy, just in case. You will see in the photo that the ladder did not stay straight, and in fact both ladders didn’t survive until the end…but I came up with a solution which I will explain later.
I made the shutters, and the piece along the back of the truck along with the windows and stuck them all on. The wheels I made from black and white fondant and I used white fondant for the number plate. I trimmed the windows with black writing icing and added a steering wheel in the front window. I also added a few further little embellishments such as the headlamps and the lights on top. The red strips along the side of the truck I’d also made a couple of days earlier so they would be more solid when sticking on.
As you can see, a lot of the bumps where covered up by now but I still had a wobbly ladder and when I tried to straighten it it broke into pieces. This is when I took inspiration from the Cake Boss (Discovery Realtime). Whenever they need to make something from icing that need to be solid they cover something solid…i.e. wood, cardboard, wire. So I made a cardboard ladder and covered it with icing.
To finish the cake I added a little plaque with the Little Man’s name on it. I also added a number 2 candle later.