Monday, December 10, 2007

The little fire engine that could


When somebody asks me to make a cake, the first question I ask is always "how many people does it need to feed?". This critical number obviously decides the size of the potential cake and since my refrigerator and freezer space is limited, size definitely matters. Perhaps there will be a day when my cakes do not need to share space with my leftover chow mein or get cozy beside the frozen peas.


Meanwhile, this fire engine cake was for a very lucky little boy named Owen who just turned three. Originally, I had planned for it to feed 10 to 12 people but when I designed it on paper, the dimensions became approximately 12 x 5 x 5 inches. Apparently, I lack the gene that gives the ability to estimate volume because in the end, the fire engine cake could probably have fed 24 people easily.


Owen had requested a chocolate cake so I created the fire engine from layers of chocolate cake and chocolate German buttercream. Covering the cake with the red rolled fondant caused a small panic attack because after prolonged kneading in almost half the vial of Wilton Red Red colour paste, the fondant was so soft that it started to shred at the corners. Luckily, I rescued it in time and smoothed it out fairly well. Seven hours later, the cake was finished.


My favourite details on the fire engine cake are actually all found in the above photo. The pastillage fire hydrant (I really wanted to keep it) and the pastillage tires, complete with hubcap and tire treads, were adorable. Because I did not want to put lettering on the actual fire engine, I decided to connect a hose to my fire hydrant which would be squirting out watery blue royal icing to spell out Happy Birthday Owen. With the addition of some silvery details, the fire engine cake was certainly an accomplishment of which I am proud. Thankfully, I was not at the party to witness its eventual destruction!

15 comments:

MishC said...

You should have seen the kids clamoring to have a piece of your cake. They all wanted to touch it. It was very delicious.

Judy said...

Charmaine, that cake is amazing! I wish I stilled live in Vancouver so you could make a cake for one of my boys!

Heck, I might ask for a cake for my next visit home.

Charmaine said...

Thanks Judy! Just give me some advanced notice and a cake will be ready for you and the boys when you come home!

Ryley said...

Wow.. This cake is amazing!!!!

I am just breaking into the cake making business and I think I might make a cake very similar to this for a 2 year olds birthday at the end of this month..

One question (if you don't mind answering) How did you raise the cake off the board?? I think it really adds demension!

Thanks again!!
Ryley

Charmaine said...

Hi Ryley,
Sorry for the delay in answering your question. Just got back from vacation! The actual cake is built on a rectangular cake board that is sitting on a flat piece of styrofoam. This means that the weight of the cake is supported by this styrofoam and there is actually no weight at all on the tires. In fact, the tires are stuck to the bottom cake board and not attached to the cake at all. Hope that helps!

Ryley said...

Thank you!! It does..

Now I just have to decide if I'm brave enough to attempt it!! :)

Lucy said...

Hi, Your cake is absolutely amazing, what did you make the ladders on the back out of, they look brilliant! I am going to have a go for my little boy's 2nd birthday, thankyou for the inspiration.

Charmaine said...

Thanks Lucy,
The ladders were made from pastillage. Pastillage dries harder than rolled fondant, but since these ladders are non-weight bearing, you don't need to use pastillage. Just letting the rolled fondant dry out for several days will also work fine.
Charmaine

Anonymous said...

can you tell me how much sugarpaste /fondant you needed for this brilliant cake?

Charmaine said...

I think I used about 1 to 1.25 kg of rolled fondant in total. It's been a while! Good luck!

mari said...

charmaine-
the cake is beautiful and so, so amazingly, professional. just curious - i was looking at the dimensions & wondered, what kind of pan did you bake the cake in?
thanks,
mari

Charmaine said...

mari: I don't use cake pans. I bake sheet cake and build cakes either free form or in ring/square molds. Then I carve the shape freehand. If this method is too advanced, I would definitely suggest using a loaf pan to acheive the rectangular shape. Good luck!

mari said...

Excellent! Thanks for the response. That's exactly what I was thinkin': you prob. used a sheet pan. But then i started to think about it (too much), and could see how one could use two cakes fr. "loaf pans" to achieve a fire truck shape (but that wld work better with something like pound cake vs. the kind of cake you made .) Thans again! Mare

Charmaine said...

Janelle: Everything was done freeform.

Annette said...

That cake is amazing. I just started making cakes for people and got a request for a fire truck. I was soo stressed.The pictue of your cake gave me confidece. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!