The one where I make a race car cake

by Sara on July 26, 2012

Way back when, when I was just a girlfriend trying to earn some brownie points with her boyfriend, I decided I was going to make Ralph the coolest birthday cake ever. Since he had recently introduced me to Battlestar Galactica, and I had just heard about this wonderus creation called marshmallow fondant, I thought what better cake to do than the Battlestar ship itself.

The infamous Battlestar Galactica cake that started it all


Obviously it was a big hit, and I was officially the best girlfriend ever.  Except I had underestimated my ability to produce a one time event and Ralph was already dreaming up his next crazy cake by the next day.

As luck would have it, just as we were planning out an elaborate cake of some kind (although my memory escapes me now of exactly what it was) I found out I had to go on a business trip to China.  On Ralph’s birthday.  I ended up making him red velvet cupcakes instead about two weeks after his birthday.  I thought maybe it would end there and I could get away with making simple cupcakes for the rest of his birthdays.  I was wrong.  The next year he requested a shark cake.

Shark attacks – they just happen


The best part about Chum the Shark Cake was that he was red velvet inside.

It doesn’t get more real than this unless you are cutting up a real shark. That would be weird


So I had done a shark, I had done a space ship, what could be next?  Well if there is anything you should know about Ralph the one thing that would round out his triad of favorite things it would be cars.  And so the idea for the Ferrari cake was born.

It ended up being an all weekend affair, mostly because I don’t have the mental strength to spend the ENTIRE day in the kitchen.  Making marshmallow fondant isn’t necessarily difficult, but because I only make it once a year this is now only the third time in four years that I have attempted it.  I learn new tricks of the trade every year like corn starch is really good to use when rolling it out, that if you have tiny surface cracks they will go away if you rub a TINY bit of water on them, and when the fondant dries out (from the corn starch) add in some Crisco and it will soften up.  The other thing I learned this year was it is IMPOSSIBLE to dye fondant red with out using a crap ton of dye.  Therefore the red fondant tastes like chemicals, so if you don’t mind that you are ok.

First things first – I started sketching out the cake to scale like I showed you guys here

Good sketches always start with lots of coffee


So now that I have all these plans and a bunch of cake and frosting, how do I turn it into a cake?  It’s kind of like carving a sculpture to me, you start with a square and you carve away parts of the cake until it looks car shaped.  I usually helps to have an actual sized 3d object (like the stuffed animal) or side, front, back, and top views + a scaled sketch like I used for Battlestar and the Ferrari.  Ralph was also a HUGE help for this once since he knows every little detail about the car’s exterior.  Once the cake is carved, roll out your fondant and cover the cake with it.  Finish it off by using the remaining fondant to create all the details like headlights, taillights, wheels, etc.


Cake as my canvas and fondant in the background ready to go


Transformed – cake in the shape of a car. Black fondant for the windows


Ralph hard at work carving Ferrari badges


Finished badges – the distinguishing feature


Working on the wheels, because you can clearly see that this car doesn’t have any. Yet.


Cake masterpiece.


Nice rear


So there you go.  Race car cake.  For my grown adult husband.  It’s far from perfect, there were a lot of frustrations, maybe a bit of cursing, and it kind of looks like the love child between a Ferrari and a Porsche.   But it’s red.  And it has Ferrari badges.  And it tastes really really good.


For the Marshmallow fondant I always follow THIS recipe from Cake Central.  It is SO important to Crisco every thing the marshmallow touches until it turns to dough or you will end up with such a hot mess all over your kitchen.  For the Ferrari cake I split it into two half batches, and made one half batch red by adding dye to the marshmallow when it was still liquid-y.  For the second half batch I brought the dough to the right consistency and THEN split it into pieces and added yellow dye, a small amount of black to achieve the grey, and they pulled off a piece of the grey and added more black to the remaining piece to create the black.

For the cake I used Bakerella’s yellow cake recipe, except with out the butter flavor simply because I didn’t plan that much ahead and did not feel like running out in search of butter flavoring.  The cake tasted great but we overbaked it by about 5 minuites so it turned out a tad dry

And for the frosting I used THIS chocolate butter cream recipe from The Savory Sweet Life.  It was super simple, and totally delicious and I would use it again in a heart beat.  It may in fact be my favorite part about the whole cake.

What is the craziest or most elaborate thing you have ever cooked/baked?

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