In the last week, I have baked two new cakes. The first one was an Easter Bunny cake, which I made for a cake walk at work. The ears got eaten at work and Ben and I ate the face at home. At the cake walk, my co-worker asked me if I could make a dalmatian cake for someone’s birthday. I told her I would gather some ideas and let her know. She said later that anything fire-fighter related would work, so I landed on making a Fire-Truck cake, which I had seen done in the past. I ended up baking two batches of cake mix one chocolate and one strawberry. First I baked some strawberry chocolate swirl cupcakes for another co-worker’s birthday. The remaining strawberry cake went into a loaf pan and the remaining chocolate cake went into a cake pan, both for the fire truck cake.
To make the fire-truck cake, I watched a great tutorial on Youtube. Thank you Betty Crocker, just don’t tell her I used Pillsbury cake mixes! So, I cut the 9 x 13 cake into thirds and used them as the body of the cake, and cut the loaf cake in half for the engine part of the cake. I used a little bit of frosting between the layers and under the cake to get it all to stick together before frosting the cake.
My next step was making extra frosting to dirty ice the cake, to catch all of the crumbs before the pretty frosting layer goes on. I made about two cups of extra frosting and decided to dye it red so all the frosting would be the same color no matter what layer it was. I seemed to have forgotten how hard it is to make red frosting, especially the bright red color you would naturally want for a fire truck cake. I had to go get more red food coloring halfway through dyeing the frosting and it still didn’t turn out bright red. It turns out that 2 cups of frosting only covered about 1/2 the cake. I didn’t have more butter thawed out, so I decided this cake was only getting one layer of frosting. I then had to attempt to dye the store-bought frosting the same color I had worked so hard to make the first time around. I NEVER want make another cake that needs to be covered in red frosting, unless I can find some really good red coloring.
Finally, the whole cake was covered in red frosting. I really wasn’t happy because it wasn’t a good color AND it wasn’t a nice, smooth frosting job. At this point, I was about ready to give up on the cake but I pressed on and started the final decorating touches. First was placing the oreo wheels, next the grey bottom border and finally the windows and red, yellow and orange Dots for lights. The last thing was to make the tire/hose swirls (on the side, but I’m not sure what they are supposed to be). For this I used the “spray” frosting in a can, which I do NOT recommend. It was incredibly hard to make it consistently come out of the can, which meant I had to use a toothpick to fix ALL of my letter’s in “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” and the number “40” on the engine.
I had Ben come check out the cake, because I was really unhappy with my work. Sure it looked kind of like a fire truck, but the whole thing was messy and I was not proud of my work. His only comment was that it needed head and tail lights, so I grabbed a couple M&M’s to put on because there was no room for anything else and the cake to still fit in the box.
I reluctantly brought the cake to work and seriously considered not giving it to my co-worker because it seemed so far below my personal standard of work. I did give it to her because ultimately, even if it’s ugly, it will taste good. She acted impressed and showed it off to a few other people. I learned several things from baking and decorating this cake:
*Do not bake anything that needs to be covered in red frosting
*Do not start decorating a cake at 8pm the night before you need to give it to someone
*Always make more frosting that you think you need
*Always color all your frosting at the same time
*Do a quality ‘dirty icing’ layer before trying to have a smooth finish layer OR
*Attempt fondant if you need a smooth covering to your cake
All in all, this was an ok experience because I learned a lot and I was happy that someone outside of my friends asked me to bake a cake for them.