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Friday, 20 April 2012

Lightening McQueen Cake, or My Existential Crisis

So I need to confess I did something not very "Realistic Mummy" for our recent kid birthday. I agreed to make a Lightening McQueen (LMQ) cake. (If you don't co-habit with young primary schoolers, LQM is a car character from Disney's oh-so-creatively titled movie franchise, "Cars.")

In fact, I made the cake not once, but twice: one for the family celebration (as a trial-run) and then another for the party with school friends.

My lumpy-surface cake, after I'd stuck it back together.
For the trial-run I opted to make my traditional dairy-free, spelt flour cake (extended family allergies). And I did not slather the pan in shortening like the instructions directed. Those two moves together resulted in a well-stuck cake that wouldn't leave the pan without heavy persuasion. ("Don't tap on the pan to loosen the cake," the instructions said. Yeah, right.)

That's a lot of blue icing! 
What I was left with was a rather mangled, vaguely car-shaped mass that could only be redeemed by an expert decorating job. Too bad it was just me doing the decorating. Nevertheless --and despite tinting my entire first batch of icing blue-- I think I managed to pull off something that resembled LMQ, even if he did look oddly lumpy.
At least you can tell who it is...
Feeling confident from my more-or-less success, I looked forward to the second go. I made a different cake recipe and even got it out of the pan intact! Then things started to unravel. I have few clear memories of the day before the party, save that I began to make icing around 10:30 p.m. Did I mention that I made, not one, but two kinds of icing, both of which required somewhat laborious preparation? And did I mention that the design required six colours of icing, in addition to the un-tinted white?

A couple of hours later, as I was starting to pipe the outlines, the existential crisis hit. I began to ask myself, "Is this really what I was meant to do with my life? Were all those years of education and skill-building without purpose? How did I get into this mess?"

By 3 a.m. the cake was finished. I'm pretty sure I flopped into bed after that. And I must say that the cake looked pretty good! Was it worth it? Hung jury. On the one hand, I did mostly enjoy the project (not the 3 a.m. finish part) and the result was more than acceptable. On the other hand, I think the party guests looked at it for about three seconds before it was cut and distributed.

Much better!
Would I do it again? Probably. I feel like I say "no" to a lot of things. So when my kid turns to me and excitedly asks, "Can I have a LMQ cake for my birthday?" and I know I can rise to the challenge, then I want to say yes. And I did mostly enjoy it. (Just not the 3 a.m. part. Did I already say that?)

(In case you're interested, I'm also posting separately the recipes for my edible masterpiece.)


  1. You did an amazing job on this!!! I bet the birthday boy was thrilled. Well done.

  2. This is so cool! Theo's bday is Thursday next week, we are stuck on a cake...love this idea!


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