Monday, August 15, 2011

Old McMelly's Farm... Tractor Cake

The final piece of my Dessert Table to Blow a Two Year Old Boy's Mind was the cake.  I decided to do a cupcake cake, because I figured it would be easier for serving to a large group.  People could just grab a cupcake and pull it away from the cake.

After hearing about what my cousin planned on getting her son for his birthday gift - a mini riding John Deere tractor - I knew I had to do the cupcake cake in the shape of a tractor.

I used the same chocolate and yellow cakes as I made for the individual cupcakes and the same cooked frosting.

I started out by arranging the cupcakes on a sheet cake board.  Little tip, if the cupcakes are frozen, it makes arranging and frosting them a lot easier.

Using a little dab of frosting on the bottom of each cupcake, I "glued" them to the board.  This is another area where the frozen cupcake helps.  The frosting freezes the cake to the board.

I found a nice picture of a John Deere tractor cake online and positioned my computer so that I could reference it.  First, I blocked off a section up top that would make up the cab window of the tractor.  I covered it with parchment paper so that I'd have a clean working surface for the white frosting.  I also went ahead and put the wheels back in the freezer, since I wasn't ready to work on those yet and I wanted to keep them frozen for better workability.

After tinting my frosting a nice John Deere Green, I just spread it over the cakes as if they were a solid sheet cake.

The next day, I added the tires back in.  After the debacle with the black royal icing, I decided to start with chocolate frosting and tint that black.  It still took a lot of black food coloring but it was a lot less traumatic.

Still consulting my picture, I added in some details.  Yellow frosting as the center of the wheels;  A smoke stack in the middle of the body made with three cupcakes lined up and frosted with the black; The cab window frosted in white and then lined in the black; a yellow John Deere line/logo using a #3 Wilton tip; and a little border using my smallest star tip just to give the edges a finished look.

I decided that the gold cake board was a little jarring next to a tractor cake, so I made a ground-like covering out of some crushed cookies and a bit of loose royal icing.

I originally was thinking I'd use graham crackers, but CVS didn't have any so I went with Lorna Doone's.  And then, the best part of my night, I got to smash the ever living snot out of them.  It was really fun.  I wish I'd needed more.

Going around the tractor, I'd frost a section of board and then pat down the cookie crumbs.  Originally, I used my hands to spread and pat, but made a mess in the tight areas like between the smoke stack and the cab.  So I started using a dessert spoon and that worked really well.

Finally, I decided I needed one last finishing touch.  Using some candy melts I had in my cupboard, I made myself a little birthday boy to put in the cab of the tractor.  I drew in the face with edible food coloring marker to match the faces of the cookie animals.

Together with the farm animal cupcakes, I think the tractor cake was a huge hit! When the birthday boy came down to see it, he got a kick pointing out all the different animals and then pointed to the cake and said "tractor!" and then pointed to the little boy in the window and said "thats meeeee." Just seeing him continually pointing to the dessert table and asking to go see it all afternoon made all the blood, sweat and tears worth it.

Happy birthday Choo Choo! I can't believe you are already 2! 

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