When I got this call, I was excited to try some characters from Disney/Pixar's "Cars". And in order to do "research", I had to watch cartoons (it's a rough job, I know). It was a short film from the series "Mater's Tall Tales" where he describes how he was challenged to a race and learned to "drift" in the streets of Tokyo. (Really cute - check out YouTube). I hear that this is the idea behind the new "Cars 2" movie coming out this Summer, so get ready all you moms of boys out there!
So I started with the characters themselves. I found a picture on the web, then used it as a pattern to cut out a simple fondant shape. Then I used my edible markers and a little white fondant to add all the detail to Lightning McQueen (or "the Queen", as my son says!) and a "modified" Mater. Yes, I drew that all by hand. (It's what I do. My mom used to call me the human xerox machine.) Then I worked on the cake.
This was a vanilla cake layered with Cookies and Cream custard. I covered the whole cake in vanilla butter cream, then a top layer of white fondant. Once the fondant was smooth, I decided to try a new technique and paint the fondant with watered-down gel paste frosting colors. Because I wanted to make it a night-scape background, I knew the colors had to be dark. And experience has taught me to try to avoid really dark colored icing (i.e. the great Cookie Monster cupcake incident of 2010 - all the party guests had blue teeth!) So I thought that this way I could get the color I wanted and not have black and blue party guests. It was fun to paint the entire cake (it was like watercolor painting); I blended blues, black and browns to create the night sky and street. Once I had the color I wanted, I cut out some simple fondant buildings and decorated with my favorite markers. With the scene set, I just placed the 2 fondant cars on the top to finish the design. Then I added a Tokyo-inspired race flag on a bamboo skewer with the birthday boy's age of "4". Then I piped on the birthday message for the finishing touch. It was a fun cake to create, and my inner artist got to come out with the big paint brushes. Maybe this is a good time to look into buying an airbrush...FUN!
PS my son, who is turning 3 in a couple months, has decided that he now wants Cars on his cake too (along with ALL the characters in Toy Story 3. Fantastic. They love collecting work for mommy! ;) He loved the cake and squealed "is that for MEEEE???" Poor kids. We go through this every week around here.