Lightning McQueen Fondant Cake Tutorial
Before I get started with the Lightning McQueen Cake Tutorial, I would like to note that I AM NOT a professional cake decorator. This is actually only the 6th fondant cake that I have ever made. Many years ago, I did, however, take Wilton Cake Decorating courses at my local Michael’s Craft Store. I love pretty much anything that has to do with being creative, and cake decorating is among that list of creative hobbies that I enjoy. I still have lots to learn, but I thought it might be nice to share my experience with you and give tips that I learn along the way. Maybe you have some tips/advice/recipes that you can share with me. I am open to sharing all that I know with you.
One of the things I want to mention to those of you whom are brand new at cake decorating is this: “Don’t feel intimidated to try what you might think is a cake that would be impossible”. When you look at a beautiful, detailed cake, don’t look at the whole picture. Try to see each element of the cake, and break each element into a small project that you can accomplish. Take for instance, this Lightning McQueen cake; for some, it looks like it might be too hard. But, the hardest part of it was the Lightning McQueen Rice Krispy Treat Sculpure – and that’s simply because it was my VERY FIRST Rice Krispy Treat Sculpture. Each element of the cake by itself was simple to make: the catus, the mountains, the sun, the rocks. Putting all the simple elements together is what makes a cake like this look extravagant. It was, however, extremely time consuming. The entire cake from start to finish took me about 12 hours. Mostly because I am so new at fondant cake decorating. I have been baking since I was 10 years old, so I’ve got that part down – I think.
Okay, so let’s get this Lightning McQueen Cake tutorial started.
The very first thing I had to do was take the idea for the cake that I had in my head and put it on paper. So, I made a rough draft drawing to make sure I was going to like what I had envisioned. Here’s what I came up with:
However, once I got started on the Lightning McQueen Rice Krispy Sculpture, I realized that he was way too big and heavy to sit atop a small second tier cake. Not only that, I was going to have to travel to the party destination for 2 hours with the cake sitting on my lap. So, I had to make a second rough draft to account for some adjustments including making the cake a single tier that would allow for easy travel. So, here’s what I came up with next:
The very first thing I did was make a batch of Rice Krispy Treats. Click here for the recipe I used. Don’t make the same mistake that I did though. I used a diet type of margarine, and they did not set up like they should have, and it created a nightmare for trying to make a sculpture.
Then, it was time to make the sculpture. Initially, I felt intimidated by this because I have never made a Rice Krispy sculpture before. I had heard about it, but really had no idea what I was doing. So, I just took a big blob of my gooey marshmallow mess and started shaping. I used one of my son’s Lightning McQueen Toys as a reference, and literally shaped, added more Rice Krispy Treat mixture, shaped some more, added more Rice Krispy Treat mixture, and on and on until I was satisfied. Then I put it in the fridge to cool and set it’s shape. I wish I would have taken more pictures of the progression of it, but my hands were covered in sticky marshmallow which made it impossible to hold a camera and snap photos. I wish hubby would have been awake to help do that part – at least someone was getting some sleep.
After the sculpture hardened in the fridge, I took it out and covered it with Royal Icing. Okay, I am pretty sure I went overboard with the Royal Icing, but I have never seen this done before, and as I had mentioned, I could not get my Rice Krispies to set up properly due to the diet butter stuff, and I was trying to compensate for that with the Royal Icing.
I tried to smooth out the royal icing as best as I could. Otherwise, the rough edges could show through the fondant.
Once the Royal Icing started to crust over, I covered the Lightning McQueen Sculpture in Red Fondant.
I wrapped the fondant around the bottom of Lightning McQueen, and smoothed him out all over with my hands. Then I used a circle cutter and cut the wheels out of the Rice Krispy Treat mixture, let it harden in the fridge, then coated the wheels with royal icing and black fondant.
Next it was time to make all the fondant details for the car. I cut out every detail by hand, again, using my son’s toy as a reference. On most parts, I used a toothpick to very lightly draw the image onto the fondant. Then I used an exacto knife to cut them out. The picture below, shows how I cut out the fire insignia for the sides. How did I get the graduated color in the fondant? First I made a snake roll of each color: one orange snake roll and one yellow snake roll. Then I placed my snake rolls back to back and pinched them together at the seams. Then I took my rolling pin and flattened out the fondant. Were those instructions clear as mud, or what? Sorry, I don’t know of a better way to explain it, but I will try to do a mini tutorial on it soon. I wish I would have taken pictures of the process, but I really didn’t think about it to be honest. I was lacking a whole lot of sleep.
Next, I put on the tires. Lightning McQueen was extremely heavy after covering him with icing and fondant. So, there was no way that the tires would actually hold up his weight. I used toothpicks to stick the tires to the car. However, toothpicks alone were not enough.
So, I melted some Wilton Black Candy Melts and used a candy bag to pipe chocolate into the gap between the tire and the car. It worked perfectly! (Most of the items that I used to make this cake can be found on the sidebar of this site under my Amazon Favorites.)
I also covered the entire bottom of the car with a thin layer of chocolate because my Rice Krispy Treats were too flimsy and did not harden like they should have. The chocolate held the car together perfectly with no more flimsiness. Here’s a picture of the base of the car before the chocolate layer. I forgot to take a picture after the chocolate layer was smoothed on…oops.
The last step on the sculpture was to use the blunt side of my exacto knife blade to lightly score an indentation for the hood, and use the handle to make an indentation on the roof. I also cut out a spoiler and placed it on the back and placed some spacers on the ends while it dried.
Finally…Time to assemble the cake. I made a White Almond Sour Cream Cake with Red Raspeberry filling (recipes coming soon). I must mention that I overcooked the cake this time. I have made this cake many times, and it always turns out great. But I have a new oven, and it was my first time baking this cake in the new oven and , I definitely over did it. I should have cut off the brown outer layer, but I didn’t. The cake still tasted good though.
I dirty iced the cake with butter cream frosting, covered it with blue fondant, and cut out a black fondant road with white stripes.
To make the mountains around the cake and the sun, I made myself a template out of paper. To make the template, I measured the height and width of one of the cake sides. I used those measurements to cut a rectangle out of the paper. Then I drew the scene on the paper. After I drew the scene, I cut out each element, i.e. the mountains, and the sun. Then I used those as paper templates by placing them on my rolled fondant and using an exacto knife to cut around them. Super super simple.
I decided not to cutout the rays of the sun on paper. It was just easier to cut a long thin rectangle of fondant and make strips for the rays.
After I glued (fondant glue is a mixture of water & a small amount of fondant) the mountains and the sun to the cake, I cut out the white clouds using the Wilton Fancy Shapes Cutouts set.
Then, I cut out red and black letters spelling HAPPY BIRTHDAY HAYDEN using the Wilton Alphabet Number Cutouts and placed the letters on each cloud all around the cake. P.S. Use the placement of the clouds, mountains, & sun to cover any/all of your mistakes. My fondant started drying out and cracked and ripped on me, so I used the elements to cover all my boo boos. Shhhh….I didn’t tell you that.
Now it’s time to make fondant pebbles to serve as a border around the base of your cake. I plan to do a mini tutorial on how to make cute little fondant rocks, but for now, I will try to explain the technique I came up with. Basically, make two balls of fondant 2 different colors, like beige and black or grey and white. The size of the balls doesn’t matter. Put one ball in front of the other and start twisting them together. Do this several times until you get a nice swirly mixture of the two colors. Then, shape you some cute little pebbles – mine were more like rocks. Remember, rocks and pebbles are all different, so you can can have lots of fun with this – you can’t mess this part up. Oh, and I added a cute little cactus (I swirled together two different shades of green and poked little holes using a toothpick.) in the shape of a number 4.
Then, finally, it was time to place Lightning McQueen atop his black asphalt road. Hubby helped me cut 4 dowel rods that we placed through the cake and allowed to stick out of the top just enough to be placed behind each wheel to hold the weight of the car.
Here’s the cake set up with the party decor. Yes, it made it in one piece through the 2 hour drive, whew!!
And here’s the final picture with the very special birthday boy, my son Hayden.
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial!! Comments and questions are always welcomed.