I thought long and hard about a theme for David’s third birthday. For his first and second birthdays I chose based on the decoration potential. This year I thought long and hard about David’s interests and finally, reluctantly, chose to throw him a Lightning McQueen party. He likes Lightning McQueen a heck of a lot more than he likes gingham puppy dogs.
Ok, so it wasn’t really a Lightning McQueen party. It was a pool party with an awesome Lightning McQueen cake.
Pinterest is full of these things, but I picked this cake as inspiration. There weren’t any instructions, so here’s what I did.
First, I used a box of chocolate cake mix. Usually I like to make a fancy homemade cake, but this cake was all about the decorations, so I wanted to keep everything else simple.
I used my 9″ springform cake pans, which made two cakes that were about two inches high.
To fit them together, I cut about two inches off the end of each cake.
I didn’t take a photo of this, but the top of one of the cakes was more rounded than the other, so I used a bread knife and cut off the top to even them out. I didn’t worry about making them perfectly flat, though.
Also — for a cake this large, I used a big piece of cardboard as a base and placed the cake on a sheet of aluminum foil. Before we served it, I trimmed the aluminum foil just to make it look nicer.
Since the cake was going to have a lot of decorations, I started out with a thin layer of chocolate icing. I love icing, but since this was for a crowd — mostly of kids — I wanted to keep the icing as light as I could.
Next, I used a butter knife and traced a 3 along the cake to use as a guide for the rest of the icing. Also — I want to say — I’ve never done anything like this before. I’ve never really decorated a cake. This is the point that I gave myself a pep talk, and you can give yourself the same pep talk if you’re intimidated by this sort of thing. When icing a cake, at any point, you can just start over. If I didn’t like the parameters of my 3, I could just ice over it with more chocolate. If I messed up the grass, I could just scrape it off and start over. And if the whole thing was a mess, they sell cupcakes at the grocery store.
The grass was the most intimidating part for me. I’m not sure I’ve ever even used an icing tip before. So, using a napkin as my test run, I tried a few different things. I decided the best look was the star tip all over — the more disorganized and imperfect the better it looked.
Here’s a closer shot of the grass.
Next, I just piped white lines to make my chocolate 3 into a road. I actually used the wrong icing here. Instead of cake icing, I accidentally bought cookie icing which was weird and melty, but fine in the end.
Right before the party I added the little cars. We actually already had the cars, they came with this book I got a while ago for David, back when his Cars obsession was brand new.
While we sang Happy Birthday, David decided to rearrange the cars.
I was really, really pleased with how well it turned out. And David liked it, too.