Birthday Cake Ideas

Decorating By aapoll Updated 8 Dec 2014 , 8:54pm by Mimimakescakes

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aapoll Posted 6 Dec 2014 , 5:12pm
post #1 of 15

AHello everyone,

I am looking for ideas on how to make a birthday cake for my son. He will 3 on January 19th and is absolutely obsessed with anything with an engine (trains, monster trucks, quads, snowmobiles, planes, tractors, ect).

Just over a year ago myself and my daughter were diagnosed celiac. My entire house went gluten free because it is so much easier than having to worry about the million and one ways cross contamination can occur. The real challenge in gluten free is the baking. So I've been trying my hand at making my own baked goods (and making them look pretty).... I hate to say it but I've pretty much given up on most from scratch recipes and find the Betty Crocker gluten free cake mix to be pretty good. I still experiment occasionally but I'm not very good at troubleshooting.

Anyways my question is does anyone know of any tutorials to make a cake of any of the above things that might work with a gluten free mix? How about a gluten free recipe that will hold together well enough to be carved? Or good tutorials for a cake? I thought about buying that train cake pan but I'm not sure that would work... Not does the idea of a lot of tiny trains appeal to me.

Thanks for any help offered! It's been difficult trying to adjust to this and make everything safe for myself and my daughter to eat (she's 4 and really gets upset when she can't have cake but other kids can).

14 replies
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winniemog Posted 6 Dec 2014 , 7:19pm
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AI've made gluten-free mud cakes that stand up very well to being carved. They also taste great! They are a very forgiving cake in terms of the way they are made - melt and mix - so they're pretty foolproof, even though I know you said you prefer a mix. I don't have any experience with mixes or carving them sorry!

I used a chocolate mud cake recipe which contained almond meal, I subbed gluten-free flour directly for the normal flour in the mix, and used 50:50 ground almonds and ground hazelnuts for the almond meal. This cake was also dairy and soy free, so I used almond milk for the cow's milk. The cake had a really delicious nutty flavour. The clients loved it too which is always good, but I was surprised that I even enjoyed the scraps! I'm hard to please....

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aapoll Posted 6 Dec 2014 , 9:12pm
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AThanks, I might have to try a mud cake recipe. You know I can made amazing gluten free cookies from scratch, the best pie crust I ever tasted (gluten free or otherwise), but cakes and muffins from scratch are more difficult. I can make really good tastin gluten free cakes (although some are not so good) but they don't hold up very well... So carving them is out of the question. The most I can manage is a 2 layer cake that is about 2 1/2 inches tall with messing icing because if you press on the cake it kind of smooshes lol.

I have tried king Arthur's recipes but they don't do so well without King Arthur flour (which I've read isn't so great) but I can't get it around here. Also I'm 3000 ft above sea level so that plays a roll as well. The Betty Crocker mix works and tastes ok so I use it... I was just wondering if anyone had any different recipes that hold up well and also any tutorials for 3d cakes that are easy enough to follow. I would kind of like to make my baby a cool cake for his birthday instead of the go to Betty Crocker cupcakes.

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winniemog Posted 6 Dec 2014 , 9:20pm
post #5 of 15

AI carved a purse from the mud cake, it was about 8" high, and the base was about 7" long and 3-4" wide. It held up fine for delivery too. I don't really use tutorials to make cakes. If you want to build something, have a look at the object and break it down into the component shapes and sizes eg a train engine might be a thin rectangular base with a cylinder at the front and a cube at the back for the cab. You may find it easier to copy a toy you can have in front of you while you work. Take lots of measurements to get your proportions right too. Good luck, hope you find what you're looking for.

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-K8memphis Posted 6 Dec 2014 , 10:06pm
post #6 of 15

i love that train pan -- i glaze them then add some details with markers -- wait i must have used the markers on the plain cake then glazed them -- but all the detail shows through and i probably have piped on some detail too -- but a little decor goes a long way -- i have one of the castle pans and the train and i just love them -- they are no brainers --


i mean just a glaze and some edible glitter even -- if gum arabic is gluten free idk but even just some sugar for some sparkle -- you can make up the difference in not have the cake itself so tricked out by tricking out the board with trees and a bridge over a stream and a crossing guard at a street and things like that if you really want to decorate it up big -- you could use twizzlers for the track if they're gf -- but incorporate some candy to make it more festive --


best to you

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-K8memphis Posted 6 Dec 2014 , 10:23pm
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another idea for you -- you can make all of those trucks and things in chocolate with chocolate molds and dot them around a big cake either a plain round or a mountain with a beach where all those things could fit in perfectly --


or if you wanna go all arts & crafts you could fashion all forms of transportation out of this candy list:


use the tootsie rolls and starbursts as a fondant type material to knead and make (small) items out of to enhance your designs -- the possibilities are endless

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aapoll Posted 6 Dec 2014 , 10:38pm
post #8 of 15

Ahow much cake does that train pan actually produce. It just looks like each train section is super tiny. I would need to find an alternative to twizzlers (contain wheat flour). I really like that idea, but of course I would have to have enough cake for everyone. Then again I could also make a batch of cupcakes to go with the cake.

Any idea how one would go about making train cupcake toppers?

On another note, what brand is your castle pan? My daughter is princess obsessed, well everything girly really, so she would go nuts over that pan. In fact earlier this way I spent all day making chocolate cupcakes dipped in ganache topped with pink strawberry SMBC swirl (with piped flowers around the side) and blue mm fondant flower topper.... Because that's what she want lol

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aapoll Posted 6 Dec 2014 , 10:45pm
post #9 of 15

AThis car molds are too cute! Actually after reading your last post I was kind of thinking of making a gluten free mudcake and topping it with fondant and making train tracks going kind of around the cake and onto the board with just one of the train "pieces" from the pan on the top.... If that makes sense... Coming in to the post I was looking for more 3d like options but I think something like this might fit the bill more nicely... And wouldn't require carving the cake

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julia1812 Posted 7 Dec 2014 , 1:04pm
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I made that cake for my son's birthday and a couple of times afterwards.

Here's a tutorial I put on YouTube:


I understand that your house is now gluten free and that's certainly not easy, but to be honest, it's really not the end of the world. There are gluten free products available everywhere! So, simply buy gluten free flour...

Here in Africa you don't have the luxury of all these products. My friend has a gluten intolerance and I make her all sorts of baking goods. If you want to have a stable cake which you can carve, you have to use flour. But use a mix of potato and rice flour as substitute for the regular one. Or simply gluten free flour...


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aapoll Posted 7 Dec 2014 , 3:33pm
post #11 of 15

AOops I thought I hit edit but hit quote instead.

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aapoll Posted 7 Dec 2014 , 3:36pm
post #12 of 15


Original message sent by aapoll

Thank you for posting, that cake is really cute.

I however don't recall whining about being gluten free, and your post kind of insulted me (the it's not the end of the world comment) As someone who really has to be a pain in rear end to most people, and pick a part everything that is cooked by someone else before I can eat it, I get this often. People always thinking I'm trying to get attention for it, and that I should just eat whatever. "It can't be that bad, it's not like it's an allergy". You also made me feel like you were implying that I was stupid. Like I didn't know there were so many gluten free options or recipes everywhere. I was simply asking for advice, for both ideas for shapes and perhaps a stable recipe.

I do agree that I'm very fortunate to have such a variety of gluten free options, and many of them taste great. It is not just so simple as to take a recipe used before celiac, sub the flour to gluten free, and have it turn out the same. It's really not so easy, at least not for me, if it was I would not have posted on here. I know how many gluten free recipes there are out there, trust me I've tried many.

Gluten free ingredients are insanely expensive and I can't keep doing the trial and error method to find something. This is why I asked about recipes. If a gluten free recipe fails, from my experience, it's not a yummy I can still eat this fail.... It's more like this is so gummy I can't even chew it! Or woah that tastes really not good, the kids won't even eat it.

Anyways sorry this is so long and is now technically me whining about being gluten free. I know you could care less about someone on the other side of the world being upset over something you wrote, but I feel better now.

Thanks everyone!

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julia1812 Posted 8 Dec 2014 , 5:07am
post #13 of 15

Oh no! You got that wrong!!!


I meant "It's not the end of the world" as an encouragement rather than an offence. I appologize if it sounds like it!

Of course we all wish for ourselves and our kids that they can eat whatever they want - sort of ;) - but sometimes we have or develope an allergie or intolerance.


Gluten intolerance sounds initially horrible when you think of all the things they are not allowed anymore and i'm sure it's scary and frustrating in the beginning. But from what I know from my friend she copes quiet well with it now. She's even making her own pasta and bread!!!

Yes, gluten free products are expensive unfortunatelly, that's why she makes things from scratch (with potato and rice flour f.e.). I even made her ginger snaps once using gluten free corn starch. Her and I are using that flour for cakes too since the mud cake option (skipping flour) doesn't work so well if you want to sculp a cake, lol.


There are lots of forums (especially in the UK) were you get good advise on how to substitute gluten ingredients and also get recipes.

My neighbor's son is gluten- and lactose intolerant and can't eat anything with preservatives (nothing tined, prepacked!). She even has to cook ketchup from scratch! And after some very intense months she gets along now and changed her whole cooking to adapt. So, even that is not the end of the world ;)

I hope you get what I wanted to say. Take some time to do research on the internet or elsewhere and I'm sure you will see that there is a variety of great ideas and tipps! Good luck and if I "could care less about someone on the other side of the world being upset over something you wrote" I wouldn't reply to your post. I do care, I hear you and I do understand your frustration.


Btw, just saw that my link doesn't work. Here is the correct one:

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aapoll Posted 8 Dec 2014 , 5:47pm
post #14 of 15

AThanks for taking the time to reply again. I appologize, I really am over sensitive on the issue. I live in Canada and here (and the U.S.) gluten free was made to seem like a "fad" diet, so people don't take the time to learn. I'm surrounded by negativity on the issue, because people just can't be bothered to hear about it... Yet again. Anyways I won't bore anyone with the story... I really do appreciate you taking the time to clarify. Honestly in my neck of the woods, when you tell someone it isn't the end of the world you are basically say " put on your big girl panties and get over it", or, " suck it up", and really I don't feel sorry for myself. There's lots I can still eat and I'm healthy now.

Back to my original topic.... I found a really great website (not sure if I can post a link to another website on here) and the mudcake on there looks absolutely amazing (baking something gluten free to be at least 3inches tall I thought was almost impossible. Tallest I've had yet was 1 1/2 inch lol. I'm gonna try it tomorrow night (with a few changes) and I will post my results for in the future if anyone is looking. I would love to try today so if I can find some way to squeeze in the 3+ hour baking time I will.

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Mimimakescakes Posted 8 Dec 2014 , 8:54pm
post #15 of 15

I use my normal mudcake recipe , but substitute self raising gluten free flour for the flour component. I find using the mix of plain and self raising I usually use  leaves the cake a little flat. Mudcake is the best cake to carve I have carved gluten free cakes on many occasions.  


I have many allergies and intolerances myself so know how hard it can be. I have a severe allergy to apples and they are used in so many things that you just wouldn't think of. 


Good luck with your baking and happy birthday to your son. 

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