1St Time Carving A 3D Cake, Does This Sounds Ok?

Decorating By stacey000 Updated 30 Oct 2006 , 6:45pm by Samsgranny

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stacey000 Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 5:51pm
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Hi everyone - I am completely new to this so, if you have some advice or can point me in the right direction, I would really apprciate it!

I am attempting my 1st 3D cake, which is also my 1st attempt with fondant. I have always wanted to do a cake like this but have been too scared. I have been studying this site and all of your posts have been extremely helpful (and your pics are amazing, a bit intimidating but, amazing!). I feel like I am ready to attempt this. I know I will have many more questions to come but, for now, based on what I have read here, this is what I am planning...could you please tell me if I am getting this right? ....

I am making a Lightning McQueen cake for my 2 year old nephew. I want it to be on the larger side. My main concern is that the cake look as much like a real McQueen as possible, even over taste, there will be another sheet cake for everyone to eat (but of course I would love for it taste good as well). This one just needs to look good and make my nephew happy!

I plan to bake 2 or 3 cakes and stack them with Wilton's buttercream between the layers.
Then wrap and freeze the cake.
Once frozen I will carve the car shape out of the layered cake.
Then let it defrost a bit.
Then crumb coat the car with the buttercream.
Then apply red Satin Ice fondant.
Lastly, apply fondant details and sugar paste wheels (based on Nati's great design)

By the way, I have made a little test cake which I carved from two stacked, frozen Sara Lee pound cakes -held together with a little bit sugar paste that I made really thin, like icing. The shape looks ok, but I did not go past the carving stage. I plan to do another test carve with the type of cake I will actually use.

Thanks for your help, and for reading such a long post!

20 replies
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Samsgranny Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 6:09pm
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Hi Stacey, I too am making the Mcqueen cake and have thinking about this cake in my sleep. I too am not as concerned about the taste of cake cake as I also will have a 1/2 sheet cake for it to sit on. I'm more concerned with the look and have been studying the shape for a while now knowing I would be doing this cake for my 4 year old grandson, Sam. I am using Wilton's 3D car pan, froze the cake and I have done some carving to create the sports car look because the Wilton pan is so boxy.

You sound alot like me making tests cakes to try to perfect it before the big day. Mine is this Saturday so wish me luck thumbs_up.gif

P.S. I'm cutting out the fondant pieces for the windows, and the lightning piece today and making the tires out of red and black candy melts. I'm first going to melt the red in a small round cookie cutter and after that has set I will put the red rim inside a larger cookie cutter and layer the black chocolate on top of that to resemble his tires. I can then pipe in the details on the tires. I will mount the tires by sticking toothpicks in the chocolate and then sticking them in the cake. Post any other tips you come up with as I will be watching this post. Together we should come up with some humdinger of a cake, huh?

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mamacc Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 6:53pm
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Personally I have trouble when I put fondant on frozen or even partially frozen cake. It gets a bit sticky and then you can't touch it to smooth it. At least this has been my experience with Sain ice or MMF.

If it's a comlicated cake then I usually get the cake all carved while it's frozen. Then I let it sit overnight to thaw, wrapped in plastic wrap.
Then the next night I do all the decorating. Sculpted cakes take so long that I usually need two nights anyway.(since I decorate at night-3 kids)


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KHalstead Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 7:03pm
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I'm thinking it was boonenati that had a tutorial on making a car from that movie maybe you could pm her???

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stacey000 Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 7:28pm
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Thanks so much for your replies.

I have heard other complaints about fondant on frozen cake so, thanks Courtney, i think I will follow your overnight method.

Yes, Boonenati (Nati) has a tutorial on the McQueen car. It is her car that I really fell in love with. She actually pm-ed me with the link after I commented on her cake - very nice of her.

Theresa - I'm so glad to hear someone else can't stop thinking about a McQueen cake! But I have checked out your pics and you have made all these great cakes! I am sure you have nothing to worry about. Me, on the otherhand...

Are you using fondant to cover the whole car or just for the accents?

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Samsgranny Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 7:33pm
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Hi Stacey, this is my first 3D fondant cake. I've done the doll cake a couple of times and that went pretty well. Did not freeze the cake and we actually ate this cake, LOL! But this shape may be more of a challenge. So yes, I plan to cover the whole cake with the fondant, will keep you posted and you let me know how you are doing too. When is your cake due?

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stacey000 Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 7:56pm
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My nephew's party is on Saturday the 28th. So you're up first, Theresa! Best of luck to you. If I run across any info that I think may be helpful, I definitely let you know.

I have some more questions about the layers...Will the layers of cake stay put while I am trying to carve ? - I am so worried about this. Should the buttercream between the layers be fairly thin? Should I use dowels or some type of support with this type of cake?

Thanks everyone!

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knoxcop1 Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 8:03pm
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What about using loaves of pound cake for the carving?

That's what I did on the truck cake in my gallery. It held up beautifully. I doweled the heck out of it, too.

My cake was done in buttercream, however.

Just a suggestion...perhaps it'll help! icon_smile.gif


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Samsgranny Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 8:08pm
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Yes, would someone please address the issue of doweling. I was thinking of putting the car cake on a piece of cardboard and then laying that on a piece of styrofoam to elevate the car up off the cake so the tires don't get smushed into the sheet cake below. I then thought I would stick some dowels in the sheet cake to support the styrofoam. Please see my previous car cake I did for my son's Father's Day cake. I just dropped the car onto the sheet cake and you can see the tires sunk into the cake below. Please share your thoughts with us.

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knoxcop1 Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 8:15pm
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What I did was this:

I made a piece of cardboard that fit under the bottom of the "truck" almost perfectly. I then covered that with contact paper in white.

I doweled (with Wilton plastic dowels) the "bed" of the truck onto the bottom, to make sure it didn't slide off. (Even though the buttercream was holding it--I didn't trust it on a long ride.)

After assembling the truck, and frosting, I then placed it onto the cardboard. Then I glued the cardboard onto the cake with BC.

I placed 4 Wilton plastic dowels UNDER the board holding the truck up.

I then sharpened a WOODEN dowel, and drove it down through the "cab" of the truck, through the support board of the truck, and into the main cake board below.

My reasoning behind the wooden dowel placement was that the one piece of cake that was connecting all the pieces was the cab/and base of the truck. That's where I put the main wooden dowel, so that all the weight was bearing on that part of the base.

The truck weighed a good 2 or 3 pounds after frosting, so I wanted to support it well without it sinking into the base cake, or toppling over while being driven to the little boys' party!


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mamacc Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 10:23pm
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Stacey, no the layers shouldn't slide around when you are carving. The buttercream holds them in place well. You don't want it to go on TOO thick. What I do is freeze all the layers separate, then I assemble to frozen cake and put buttercream in between. Then I carve it, wrap it, and let it thaw. I find it much easier to assemble layers while frozen, especially large ones. Also, I stack them up while they are still wrapped to figure out how exactly I'm going to put the cake together. You could do it either way though....I just usually bake days ahead of time and don't always know how it's all going to come together.

On the taller cakes I like using a sharpened wooden dowel through all the layers into the bottom board. That works really well to keep everything from sliding....I learned that the hard way, LOL.


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mhill91801 Posted 16 Oct 2006 , 10:34pm
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One thing that caught my attention was that you were going to let it thaw a bit then crumbcoat. I would crumbcoat while still frozen, then thaw, then do your fondant. In my experience (not much, but a few times)...it is easier to frost a frozen cut cake, as it will just crumble if it's not hard.

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Orangemeower Posted 17 Oct 2006 , 3:23am
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Okay, I think I got it - thanks so much for the advice - freeze, carve, crumbcoat, wrap, thaw, fondant. Am I wrapping with saran wrap? Should I leave the cake out, wrapped, overnight and apply the fondant the next day?

I am finishing my 1st test cake, which I have carved days ago, tonight. I'll post a pic when I'm done.

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mamacc Posted 17 Oct 2006 , 11:50am
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Yes, you got it right. I don't usually crumb coat though. If it's a simple shape I usually don't have trouble putting buttercream on with a spatula even when thawed. If you are covering it with fondant anyway then a few crumbs won't matter. BUT if it's a more complex carved shape then I put BC on with a large basketweave tip. I use it like the cake icer tip. This way there's no crumbs and you don't mess up the carved cake underneath.

So, I cover the the filled un-iced cake with saran wrap overnight. This might not work for everyone but for me it seems to work the best. I've done quite a few sculpted cakes and tried lots of different things...


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stacey000 Posted 20 Oct 2006 , 8:20pm
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Thanks again for the tips. My test cake came out pretty good.

Tomorrow is the big day for you, Theresa, isn't it? Good luck. Let us know how it comes out!

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Samsgranny Posted 20 Oct 2006 , 10:29pm
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Yes, the big day is tomorrow. Boy what a big project...1/2 sheet cake with a carved cake on top. So the sheet cake is done. BUT I'm still working on the car. I've covered it in the red fondant but finding that all the pieces I made earlier this week are breaking because I dried them flat and the car is curved. Even the lightening I made for the sides of the car that I dried on cotton balls (to create the curve over the fender) have broken. So I am in the process of remaking them and hoping that being soft will not be a problem and will stick to the cake with some RI. Any tips anyone?

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stacey000 Posted 21 Oct 2006 , 1:53am
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I was thinking about that very same situation. Everytime i read that you should make the decorations ahead of time...I would worry. But I have also read that the details can be attached while still soft by just painting the back with some RI, as you said, egg white wash, or even water. On the Wilton website it usually says "moisten with water and secure". I wish I could tell you for sure. But you probably know better than me. Hopfully we will here from some of the experts here.

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Samsgranny Posted 21 Oct 2006 , 2:20am
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Well Stacey, I couldn't wait anymore for the experts to advise so I bit the bullet and applied them soft with some RI and it worked. I thought that maybe because they were so thin that they wouldn't fall off but even the thick spoiler I attached with flat coffee stirrers stayed up. Well I have finished but won't mount the car on the sheet cake until I get to my son's tomorrow so I will post pictures then. Best of luck to you thumbs_up.gif

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Samsgranny Posted 29 Oct 2006 , 7:30am
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Hi there, just checking in to see how the cake went...please post your picture!!!

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stacey000 Posted 30 Oct 2006 , 5:17pm
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Hi Theresa, your cake came out great by the way...and so neat...that is one thing I had a really hard time being.

My cake came out ok. When I get home tonight I will post a pic. Overall, I am happy with it considering it was my first time with fondant/carved cake. It took me two nights of practically no sleep and one morning of insanity. I was in such a rush, throwing things all over the place, still decorating while guests were showing up to my nephews party. I got to the party an hour late. I can't believe how long it took me to decorate this thing! This cake literally took blood (I kept cutting myself with the exacto!), sweat and tears.

I kept having all of these little disasters that would set me back. I definitely learned a lot and there are many things that I would do differently the next time. But I also have a whole bunch of questions! Like, why the heck did my cake start cracking all over the place?? icon_cry.gif One of the sides just started dropping...I had to create all of these support systems for each side of the cake, to keep it together and fight gravity.

I also tried filling in the cracks with royal icing but I may have made some areas worse. I think I will also post some pics highlighting some of my cake's disaster areas and maybe some of you cc'ers can help me figure out what I did wrong.

I also made a race flag cake you'll see in the pic, but that one was pretty basic.

Despite the madness...I really want to try again and make another cake!!

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Samsgranny Posted 30 Oct 2006 , 6:45pm
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Good for you Stacey, dust yourself off and keep on going. That's what I love about CC, I can show my worst disasters and there is always someone who has experienced the exact same thing and who will lend a kind hand. We must remember to be generous with our expertise when we get to that point, LOL! Can't wait to see your pictures and get a better idea of the issues you experienced. As far as cracking...I had no intention of cutting the car cake to eat so I used the Wilton fondant (smells to high heaven) and used a generous amout of shortening to promote elasticity when shaping the fondant on the car. I guess you have to be careful and not use too much or it might tear easily and run off the cake. Not sure if that was your problem. Let us know what type of fondant you used. BTW, the icky smell of the Wilton fondant dissapated with time, I have heard that the fondant absorbs the flavor of the BC underneath and so I'm not sure if this is what happened with mine but it did not stink. Still didn't want to have them eat it because it had been in an out of the freezer so many times I didn't know if it was going to be too dry to eat. I had plenty of cake for them as the car cake sat on a 1/2 sheet anyway. Can't wait to see your pictures and thanks for sharing thumbs_up.gif

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