I finally had time to do this! Thanks for your patience. Part I refers to the size of the cake. These directions will utilize two 9×13 pans and can easily feed 24-30 people depending on how big the serving size. I would recommend doing a trial run first if it is for a special occasion. I tried this for the first time for a friend’s birthday party and it took a lot of time because I was guessing at how to cut the cakes without making mistakes!
Bake two 9×13 pans of your favorite cake recipe. Bear in mind the best kind of cake to use is a somewhat denser type cake. The softer the cake, the harder to cut, shape, and stack. It will also have more crumbs. After the cakes have cooled at room temperature, wrap them in plastic wrap well and cool for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. The plastic wrap will help retain the moisture of the cake and cooling in the refrigerator will make it easier to cut it into shapes. One word of caution, since cake recipes vary, you may need to do a 3 stack to obtain the height of the fire truck cake. One thing I have done in the past (for other cakes) is make 3 recipes and split between the two 9×13 cake pans. This will feed more people (~50-60) and will probably require only 2 layers to make the fire truck. The following recipe is for 2 cake recipes, hence 3 layers of cake.
1. Slice the tops of the cakes to flatten them and make them even
2. Cut off the hard edges to straighten out the edges (this is if you have a typical 9×13 pan where the edges flare up and outwards). If you have a cake pan with straight edges, you can skip this part. With my cake pan, I end up with an 11.5″ x 8″ rectangle. Note: It might be easier to stack the 2 cakes before slicing off the edges to make sure they are “sized” the same or close to it.
3. With the cakes stacked, cut 4.5″ from the 8″ side to form a 4.5″x8″ block. Repeat so you have 2 blocks.
4. Frost between the stack of three 4.5″x8″ cakes. Cut the 4th 4.5″x8″ cake piece into two equal pieces (sized 4.5″x4″). Frost between the stack of the two pieces.
5. You should have two 2.75″x8″ pieces left. Cut one of the pieces into two equal pieces (sized 2.75″x4″). Stack one piece on top of the 4.5″x4″, aligning the edges. You will need to cut the other 2.75″x4″ piece to fill in the “missing” section of the 3rd layer (should be 1.75″x4″). So, you should have one 4.5″x8″ stack of 3 cakes and one 4.5″x4″ stack of 3 cakes, where the last cake layer is 2.75″x4″ plus 1.75″x4″. These 2 blocks of cake should be the same height. Try your best to frost in between each layer evenly so they are the same height.
6. Trim down the last 2.75″x8″ piece to 1.25″x8″ and then cut it in half to form two 1.25″x4″ pieces. Stack the 2 layers and frost in between.
7. For the cake board, you can do as you wish, but I wanted my firetruck to “levitate” on the wheels, so I cut a cake board into a 4.5″x13.5″ rectangle. Wrap the cake board with cake foil. Realize though that it is harder to frost the outside of the cake with a really small rectangle. It can and will get messy!
8. Place the cake pieces on the cake board. The front of the firetruck will be the 4.5″x4″ piece, where the window is the 4.5″ side. Then place the 1.25″x4″ cake block behind it, followed by the 4.5″x8″ block.
9. At a slant, trim from the top of the firetruck front (maybe 0.5″ to 1″ from the edge down to 1/2 the cake height. You will need to use your judgement here because I don’t have a cake to experiment with me right now, so I’m just visualizing. You are doing this to form the window of the firetruck. The portion you trim off should be like a triangle. You can refer to the picture attached to see how I trimmed the window.
10. If the firetruck looks a bit unstable, use skewers to stabilize it. Pound the skewers in with a hammer down to the cake board for stability and so the parts don’t move around during handling or transport. How many you use will depend on how unstable your cake is. The denser the cake, the more stable it will be. The taller the cake, the more unstable it will be. The flatter or more even the cake you cut, the more stable it will be. Cut the tops of the skewers with clean pliers as close to the top of the cake as possible, so it doesn’t stick out during frosting.
11. Color your frosting depending on how you would like your firetruck to look like. I used different coloring schemes for the 2 firetrucks I have made (check my archives). Frost the cake and decorate with different colored frosting lines to give your firetruck personality.
Here are the directions for the firetruck “accessories”. I would do this 1-2 days in advance because it is time consuming:
1. Make a ladder template using a 12″ ruler. Draw 2 parallel lines, 10″ long and spaced 1.5″ apart. Then draw straight lines from one end of the 10″ line to the other to form the rungs of the ladder (~1.25″-1.5″ apart)
2. Make the ladder supports by drawing 2 parallel lines, 3″-3.5″ long and spaced 2″-2.5″ apart. My lengths are not exact because I’m trying to do this from memory (I my drawings of my previous templates!). Just make sure the width of the ladder you drew in #1 will fit into the width of the parallel lines you are drawing now. At the center of the parallel lines you drew, draw a line to connect to form an H. The ladder will sit on this H for support
3. Make the side ladders by doing the same as #1 but in smaller dimension. Draw 2 parallel lines 6″ in length and spaced 0.75″-1″ apart. Draw lines to connect the 2 parallel lines to form the ladder rungs.
4. Cover your template with wax paper. Melt 1-2 bags of white chocolate and put in a piping bag. Outline the ladders and H support using the white chocolate. Wait until the white chocolate hardens a bit and then pipe more white chocolate above it and on the sides to “strengthen” the ladder. The first time I did this, the ladder broke, so I decided to re-pipe after the 1st piping “set” to add more strength to the ladder. Repeat as many times as you see fit, but do not let the chocolate “run” way outside of your lines. If you do, the ladder might not fit into the H support. This happened to me a couple of times doing this!
5. Remove the ladders and H support carefully from the wax paper when it is fully “set”. You can pop it into the fridge to make sure before you remove it from the wax paper. Repeat #4 again (minus the H support) so you have 2 sets of each. You can repeat for a 3rd set in case your ladders are fragile and they break with handling. (If yours keep breaking and you are getting frustrated, you can use pretzel sticks. I saw some fire truck cakes using this, too.)
6. Once you have 2 sets, remove the 2nd set from the wax paper and repeat only with the large ladder. Pipe 6-8 thick lines ~1″ long. You will use these to hang ladders on the side of the fire truck. And to hold the bottom of the large ladder on top of the fire truck in place. Make sure they are pretty thick so they do not break when you pierce it into the cake. You will need only 6, but an extra 2 never hurts, in case they do break. Remove from wax paper and set aside.
7. To make the large ladder atop the fire truck cake, take 1 ladder and lie it flat on wax paper. Take another ladder and vertically place it on one side of the ladder lying flat. Take the melted white chocolate and “glue” the 2 ladders together on their sides. You will need to “glue” on the outside and inside of the sides to make sure they adhere very well together. Make sure the chocolate has “set” and is stable before you let go. If it is not stable, pipe more white chocolate. Repeat on the other side of the ladder lying flat with the 3rd ladder positioned vertically on its side.
8. For this smaller fire truck, I used thin mint cookies for the wheels. Draw circles on the inside of the thin mint cookies to decorate the fire truck wheels.
Assembling the Fire Truck Cake:
1. Once you have finished frosting and decorating the cake, place the H support on top of the front of the fire truck. Place the large ladder through it so it is supported by the rung. Gently place the other side of the ladder on the back of the fire truck and take 2 of the 1″ white chocolate lines to secure the end of the ladder.
2. Take 2 of the 1″ white chocolate lines and place on the side of the back of the fire truck to hold the smaller ladders. Do this on both sides of the truck.
3. Take a larger cake board and wrap with cake foil (size of cake board depends on you, but make sure it is larger than the fire truck cake). Use oreo cookies or wooden blocks to “levitate” the fire truck cake on top of the larger cake board. The fire truck cake will slide off the cookies or wooden block if you lift and try to move the larger cake board, so do this as final assembly…when you have chosen the final destination of the cake.
4. Place wheels alongside the fire truck. You can press them gently on the side of the cake so they don’t fall or move around. Use jolly ranchers for the sirens and lifesavers for the headlights.
Please send me a picture of your fire truck cake when you make it! And if you post it on the web, please be so kind as to refer to my blog.
Good luck and let me know how it turns out!