This past week, while on a trip for Shutterbug Traveler in Monterey, I got a special email from one of my favorite organizations... Icing Smiles. Icing Smiles works with families who have children that are dealing with serious illness such as cancer, leukemia, etc. Those children, as well as their siblings, are eligible to recieve a custom cake from a local baker for a special occasion such as a birthday or end of treatment day or release from the hospital day. This time it was for the baby brother of a young man going through treatment. A very nice family celebration at home.
We tend to take those celebrations for granted. But when your oldest has spent more time in the hospital the past year than he has at home, suddenly an "at home" celebration sounds simply wonderful. To have such a special cake, and not the expense for one, for one of your kids just makes the day that much more special. I was pleased and honored to be able to make this cake and deliver it to their home early Saturday afternoon. I'd love to share with you that photo...the one of the little guy next to his cake, but I will have to wait until Icing Smiles publishes it on their Facebook Page so you can see it.
So now about how it was made and how you can make one too! Everything except the cars on this cake is fully edible....including the track. First of all, the cake is a vanilla bean cake with a caramel toffee buttercream filling. It is four layers of yumminess! I wanted to stay within the Hot Wheels colors while staying within "background cake" boundaries so I started with the blue fondant and covered the cake, leaving the half moon shape for the front of the cake open. Then, using a graph matt, I cut out the 1x1 inch black and white squares and placed those onto the cake to make the "checkered flag" part of the cake. Next I rolled out the long pieces (two of them) to trim the cake and create the "road" surface.
Finishing details can make a world of difference. For this cake it was the white dashes as well as the black rolled fondant that separates the blue from the checkered areas. I had left over 1x1 white squares so I just used those to make the dashes. I handrolled the "snake" for the black fondant divider and then used water to attach it to the cake before adding the dashes to the cake.
Now the track. My own husband and son are crazy about Hot Wheels so we have track right here for me to use as reference. Making the loop was taking a leap of faith. I would have normally made this a week ahead of time but I only had two days to make this cake so no real drying time! Enter my great friend Tylose. I used a LOT of it to make the orange fondant dry out quickly. Then, like most cake decorators, I sort of MacGyver'd it. I cut out 2-1/2 inch pieces and gently folded up the edges. I used a straight edge cutter to help me smooth out the edges. Then I let that set up for about a half hour before I used a rolling pin (for the loop) that had been set up on supportive stands, and a can (for the side curve) and let them dry while saying a prayer that they actually would dry overnight.
You see that track on the right side of the cake? Yeah, that was insurance. If the curve and loop didn't dry hard enough then that long track was going to be cut in half and I was going to make a cake topper out of it and the number. And, when it came down to it, I didn't need it. But, hey, I had some cool looking track so why not use it?! Somehow the two cars I had planned on in my original sketch were now 5 and I thought, correctly, that having more cars wasn't a bad thing! I used orange royal icing to attach the side curve and loop together right where the truck now sits. I also used the same orange royal icing to attach the track to the cake and the board...and to attach the cars to everything. It makes some great edible glue that held the cars rock solid during the delivery.
A note about using non-edible pieces on your cake. Make sure it doesn't actually touch the cake. In this case, even though the cars were new and had been washed, I made sure they only touched the track, not the cake, since the track would be discarded when it came time to cut the cake. If you have a non-edible that sticks down into the cake make sure to wrap it in cling wrap or stick it into a straw or coffee stirrer.
And it was SO worth it. Little man Nathaniel was overwhelmed by all of the cars, his older brother was amazed, already talking about his own John Cena cake for next year (and you have no idea how much that did my heart good to hear him planning his next birthday!!) and his parents very grateful and kidding around with us about making the cars edible! LOL! But the best was leaving their home and hearing the excited squeals and calls about what a cool cake it was, and let's go see the cake, and isn't that just an incredible cake?!?, coming from behind their front door. Worth the cake's weight in gold.