Thursday, March 12, 2009

Emergency Cake Emergency

Scott had his birthday. Last year he wanted a fire engine cake. This year he asked for an ambulance cake. (He says he wants to be an ambulance driver when he grows up.)

At this rate, I figure I better just starting figuring out now how to make a police car cake for next year!

*see UPDATE (7/13/2012) at bottom if you're looking for more info on how I created this cake*

And just to quash any delusions of me knowing what I'm doing with cakes, let me share the outtake with you:

The first cake fell apart when I tried to take it out of the pan. I went ahead and tried to form it into the right shape, if only for a trial run. But when it became apparent that the cake was hopelessly falling apart, I plowed ahead with some haphazard frosting because I had made WAY too much frosting for only one cake anyway and I figured it would still taste good. (It will all look the same after you eat it, right?!?) The cake wouldn't be edible unless I frosted it, so I did and then saved it for us. I called it a cookies 'n' cream cake and I at least happily ate it over the next few days :)

You might be asking why I decided to make my life harder by trying to frost a chocolate cake with white frosting. Well, the reason is because we actually intended to EAT the cake. It's hard enough for me to have the frosting not be chocolate. The cake itself at least had to be. Besides, that's what Scott said he wanted. (Honestly? That may not have been an entirely fair choice for him. I'm not sure my kids know that it's possible to make anything other than chocolate cake. They've certainly never seen me make anything else!)

I changed tactics for the second attempt late the night before the party and things went much smoother with much fewer tears of frustration shed. Good thing I had started the first attempt early the day before. Phew!

For the party, we had the kids paint their own wooden cars:

M built a race track in the garage:

Then we "raced" the cars, which basically involved the kids rolling their cars down the ramp again and again and again as fast as humanly possible.

I think the kids had fun. The party was low-key and totally lacking in decorations and what have you. (I honestly don't think Scott will remember, let alone care, that we used generic grocery store paper plates with bluebonnets on them for his party.) So I will not be winning any "SuperMom" awards, but I DID actually enjoy the party.


UPDATE (7/13/2012) -  I've had questions about how I created this ambulance cake, so I've done my best to remember, even though it was a while ago:

I made this cake by baking a cake mix in a 5x9 loaf pan.  Then I used a bread knife and cut into into 2 layers horizontally. Then I cut small pieces off the end of both layers.  Then I stacked them all.

My glass loaf pan slants a little at the sides, so if you're looking at the loaf pan the way you would bake it, the bottom has curved corners and the top has a slanted sided.  I used the bottom of the loaf to create the front end/hood - we'll call this layer #1.  And I used the slanted top to create the windshield - we'll call that layer #2.  I also cut about 1-1.5 inches off of layer #1 and we'll call this new piece layer #3.1.  I set layer #2 on top of layer #1, but with layer #2 offset by about 2 inches or so to create the hood.  Then I cut enough off layer #2 to be the same length at the back as layer #1 (about 3-3.5 inches?).  This last piece we will call layer #3.2.

I made a crude graphic to try to make this clearer:

Layer #1 - from bottom of loaf, created hood
Layer #2 - from top of loaf, created windshield
Layer #3.1 - cut off end of layer #1, created the part of the ambulance that sticks up in the back and is higher than the cab, let's call this the cargo area
Layer #3.2 - cut off end of layer #2, other part of cargo area

Then I constructed with frosting between layers like this:
1. First, I put layer #1 on the bottom (anchored with a little frosting to the plate) with the curved corners up and at the end that became the front of the ambulance.  The curved corners made it look like front bumper and hood.  Then I frosted the top of layer #1.
2. Then put layer #2 on top of that so the slanted side sloped up and away from the hood like a windshield.  I made the ends even at the back of the ambulance and offset about 2 inches at the front to leave a hood area. Then I frosted on top of layer #2.
3. I put layer #3.1 and layer #3.2 next to each other, with one flipped upside down in order to fit nicely next to the other one, and both on top of layer #2.  Again, I made the back edges even and allowed an offset in front to leave the cab area. (I might have trimmed these pieces a little to make it look right, don't remember for sure.)
4. I think I took a good serrated knife and sculpted a little here and there as needed where things didn't line up right or where corners were too sharp.
4. Then I frosted the cake with a crumb layer.  I used lots of frosting to smooth out/fill in any dents or crevices.
5. Lastly, I frosted a final white frosting layer, then decorated with red (homemade) and black (store bought Wilton tube) frosting with a round tip.

If you're trying this I wish you the best of luck.  It really wasn't too hard, but I don't know how clear my directions are.  Feel free to contact me with any questions!


Kelly M said...

Actually, you DO win super-mom, simply for the cake itself! WOW! Totally impressive. Not to mention having young kids paint things and the homemade race track.

My deprived kids have yet to even have a birthday party. . . I'm not brave enough for that yet.

You're definitely Super-Mom, sorry.

Bart said...

THAT's a cool cake, G. I remember extrememly well the one time my parents went all out to make me a Cookie Monster cake for my birthday. I wouldn't be surprised if Scott remembers this one his whole life, too. Well done.

Pickles and Dimes said...

What a fun party! Looks like everyone had a blast. Your cakes (both of them) look delicious.

A said...

Great job on the cake!! I am gearing up for some kind of ball cake next month for my little one's 1st birthday.

azufelt said...

I'm pretty impressed with the cake, heck, I thought I was doing good with my pink-ish bundt cupcakes, I think you beat me out on the skill level though!

I LOVE the race track thing and idea, if only I had a boy that we could have the type of party... maybe the day will come!

Leann said...

I thought it looked awesome! And yay for other women who don't believe in having tons of decorations!

Anonymous said...

How funny - I just googled "ambulance cake" because my son wants one for his birthday since we did a fire truck one last year (which happens to look very similar in structure to yours!) Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I am like the last person who commented...I googled "ambulance cake" and got here. My soon-to-be 7 year old requested the ambulance on the theory that he's "had a police car and a fire truck, and now I need to finish!" Good grief. Any tips on this one?? My other 2 were based on a Wilson cake pan...

G said...

I posted an update with a description of how I made this cake (as best as I could remember).

G said...

I also added a graphic to hopefully make things clearer!

Anonymous said...

Did you use a 5x9 loaf pan or a 9x13?

G said...

I used a 5x9 loaf pan.