When my husband asked me if I’d be willing to make a cake for Poppy’s surprise 80th birthday party, it didn’t take long before I had pictures and ideas running through my head. And once I had it set in my mind that it would be a fire truck cake, there was no way I was going to let them bring in some store-bought cake for Poppy’s big birthday party.
The only challenge that lay ahead was in figuring out just how in the hell I was going to pull this off.
It involved sculpting, people. And measuring. And fondant pieces and red icing. Red, which is a freaking bear of a color to make. Oh, and a TON of icing. Like, 5 batches worth. And um, to top it all off, I had to figure out a way to make this cake to serve 80 people.
I can say now: mission accomplished. (Thank you, baby Jesus.)
As with any cake project I’ve taken on, I started in Google Images to find photos for inspiration. It was a little bit difficult to find something that fit my own vision, but I felt like I really needed something to go on to help me with this monstrous task. Thankfully, I eventually found Julie at Peanut Butter & Julie. She did a really cute fire truck cake that pretty closely fit what I was picturing in my head. And, even better, she was super helpful in answering questions for me, too. So big thanks go to Julie.
Still, I found that with many parts of this project, I really just had to figure it out as I went along. Thankfully, it all ended up working out for me. But it was a lot of work. So much work. I literally worked on some aspect of this thing every night this past week, starting on Monday. Before I even started, I made a “schedule” of tasks for each night, doing what I could in advance.
And it’s done! It’s DONE. So pardon me while I share a bunch more photos. I just can’t resist. (I’ll also share some more info, too, for those of you who may stumble across this post doing your own Google searches for “fire truck cakes.”)
The cake itself is constructed from four half-sheet cakes. I used a regular cake recipe (red velvet–I thought the color was really appropriate for a fire truck!) in each one, so the cakes were pretty thin. I found it was easier to work with thin layers because of the sculpting/shaping I decided to go with in the middle (with the varying heights). I filled the cake with buttercream icing between each layer, and it’s frosted with buttercream as well.
The tires are mini chocolate donuts, and the lights are Jolly Ranchers. The ladders and the hose are made out of marshmallow fondant. The ladders are hanging on the sides of the truck using pretzel sticks as hooks. Everything else is buttercream. I “dirty iced” the whole cake, then covered it using a medium star tip.
I sculpted the fire hydrant out of fondant and let it dry out in the open for several days. The hose and water are also made of marshmallow fondant. The writing is in buttercream.
The cake board is a 2′x2′ piece of plywood that we got at Home Depot. I covered it in black fabric (thanks again for the tip, Julie). The cake itself is sitting on a cakeboard that I cut to the exact size of the cake. When I first set the cake on it, there were little edges of the cake board showing, but as I iced and decorated, it was easy to cover up the edges of the cake board so it wasn’t visible. It looked like the cake was sitting directly on the fabric.
I’m worried that the cake might not feed everybody at the party, so this is my solution. I made a batch of vanilla cupcakes (24 of them), and topped them to look like fire. The icing is yellow/orange buttercream, and the flames are made out of candy melts. I printed out a picture of a clipart flame, and traced it a bunch of times to make the candy topper for each cupcake.
Happy 80th Birthday, Sibby. :) I should’ve explained the significance of the fire truck–Poppy has been a volunteer firefighter for many, many years. Of course, he can no longer do any of the actual firefighting work, but he’s still heavily involved in the fire company. I’d say the majority of the attendees at the party are going to be his buddies from the firehouse. It seemed only appropriate to honor Poppy and all of his friends.
I can’t wait to show off this monster at the party tonight!
AboutI'm Heather. I just turned 30. I'm happily married, and mommy to the most beautiful little girl in the world (what, you're saying I could be biased?). Determined DIYer and homeowner. Sarcastic. A perfectionist. A bleeding-heart liberal. Frugal. Loves a little dog way more than many humans. Loves food, hates exercise (it's an ongoing battle). A loyal football fan. I love to laugh. Value family and friends above all else. Vie to be a world traveler.