Crafting a Checkerboard Lightning McQueen Cake

And then there was the child in India called Arnav who loved Lightning McQueen. So his mom ordered a Lightning McQueen cake from my sister, Sarah for his 4th birthday. And although we’ve seen a few lightning McQueen cakes before, we haven’t seen one with a checkerboard sponge inside.

So Sarah set out on her voyage to craft a one and a half kg Lightning McQueen cake with her trusty sidekick, me.

The tricky bit wasn’t just the outside, but the inside too. Arnav loves chocolate sponge. So Arnav’s mom Akshata asked for a checkerboard sponge on the inside with chocolate ganache.

Lightning McQueen – Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Lightning McQueen 3d Cake

Creating the sponge checkerboard

Sarah started out with three bright colored sponge cakes – blue, yellow and pink.

Now if I know anything about checkerboard cakes, it’s that they require time and precision, and are almost always round. So a rectangular checkerboard was interesting to work on.

Cut the sponge cake into long strips - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Cut the sponge cake into long strips

Sarah cut the sponge into long strips, most of them flat and some of them with a mound in the center. She then created a finishing line base of fondant and started building the cake on it.

Fondant road - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Fondant road

Ganache and fondant

She worked on lathering the strips with a chocolate ganache to hold them together, while I worked on stealing away spoonfuls of ganache when she wasn’t looking. Good working together! The ganache was followed by a fine layer of cashew marzipan to mould the car. You’d think that ganache and fondant might not go together, but they actually taste amazing.

Putting together the pieces of the car - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Putting together the pieces of the car

The marzipan layer was covered by a layer of red fondant. Yeah, I know the fondant pic looks like it came out of a Friday the 13th movie. That’s why I had to have it on here, despite Sarah’s voiced protests.

Red Fondant - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Bleeding Heart : Red Fondant

Crafting the car

Anyways, post that I was put to work on creating doors, windows and eyes for Lightning McQueen. So I couldn’t take any pictures. Anyways, the final product did look pretty good! And I managed to take pictures from different angles before Arnav’s dad came over to pick it up.

Rusteze-95 - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Rusteze-95
Lightning McQueen - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Lightning McQueen

The next couple of pics were sent across to us by Arnav’s mom Akshata. He looks really pleased with the cake.

Birthday Celebration - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
Arnav eating his birthday cake

She took this picture after they were halfway through the cake for dessert. Poor Lightning McQueen getting all gobbled up! We were told that the cake was as much fun to eat as it was to make!

The checkerboard sponge cake after being cut - Pic by Abby from TheWingedFork
The checkerboard sponge cake after being cut

If you want to read about the balloon heart cake too, click here! Otherwise, here’s the full printable recipe for how to make a lightning McQueen birthday cake.

Lightning McQueen Checkerboard sponge Cake

A checkerboard sponge cake shaped in the form of Lightning McQueen.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Crafting Time5 hrs
Total Time6 hrs 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Servings: 20
Author: Sarah

Ingredients

Sponge Cake

  • 200 g Refined flour
  • 160 g Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Baking Powder
  • 4 Eggs
  • 200 g Butter
  • 10 ml Glycerine
  • 10 ml Essence (Vanilla or other flavors)
  • 10 drops Fod coloring different colors

Marzipan

  • 150 g Cashewnuts or Almonds (finely ground)
  • 300 g Sugar
  • 150 ml Water
  • 1.5 tbsp Liquid glucose
  • .75 tbsp Almond essence

Fondant

  • 600 g Icing sugar
  • 45 g Liquid glucose
  • 1.5 Egg whites
  • 6 drops Citric Solution
  • 5 drops Flavoring

Chocolate Ganache

  • 100 ml Thick cream
  • 50 g Milk chocolate lighter chocolate since these are kids

Instructions

Sponge

  • Beat eggs in a bowl.
  • Add butter and sugar and mix together.
  • Add glycerine and mix again.
  • Sift in refined flour and baking powder.
  • Separate the mixture into 3 or 4 bowls.
  • Add different colors and flavoring to each bowl.
  • Line baking trays with parchment or tissue paper.
  • Pour in the mixture and bake for 45 minutes. (Depending on your oven.)

Marzipan

  • Grind cashewnuts or almonds to a fine paste and set aside.
  • Boil sugar in water till reduced to half.
  • Add in the cashewnut or almond paste and stir constantly. Ensure that it does not stick to the bottom of the vessel or it will burn.
  • Add in the almond essence and continue to stir till quite dry.
  • Take the mixture of the stove and cool for a minute.
  • Add in the glycerine and mix well.
  • Pour the mixture onto a cake board or a large open tray and let it thicken/cool or a few minutes. 
  • Once okay to touch, knead into a smooth ball. 
  • Once completely cooled down, put the marzipan ball in an airtight container and set aside.

Fondant

  • Melt glucose in a double boiler.
  • Add essence and stir well.
  • In another vessel, lightly beat egg whites and essence together.
  • Take a quarter of the icing sugar in a mixing bowl.
  • Add the egg white mixture and the glucose mixture to the sugar and blend well.
  • Keep adding sugar until not too sticky.
  • Next pour the mixture and the rest of the sugar onto a flatboard, and knead well till it forms a soft and non-sticky ball.
  • Keep in an airtight container till ready to use.

Putting together the whole cake

  • Cut the sponge into long strips that are 1 inch thick.
  • Add different colors to the fondant and store in the airtight container.
  • On a cakeboard, roll out white fondant in the shape of a road.
  • Add black fondant squares to the white fondant to look like a finishing line.
  • Place the sponge strips on the road in the shape of a car.
  • Roll out marzipan and cover the car completely.
  • Roll out red fondant and cover the car completely. 
  • Look at pictures of Lightning McQueen and decorate as required.
  • Polish the cake with a mix of one part glucose to nine parts water.
  • Beam with joy ant what you’ve accomplished.

Chocolate Ganache

  • Double boil the cream till almost boiling point and take off the burner.
  • Break the chocolate into small pieces and add to the cream.
  • Stir well and use.

Notes

Note that you will have leftover sponge cake and marzipan from this. You can always make minis of the rest or give the kids something to get creative with.
3D Lightning McQueen cake with a Checkerboard Sponge - By Abby from TheWingedFork

Post Author: Abby

I'm a foodie and travel blogger, still making my way out of the daily 9-to-5, or 9-to-7 rather. But I make time to travel as often as possible. I've travelled across parts of Europe and Asia, and love writing about my experiences with people and cultures. And naturally, I love food, wine and travel, and have an endless bucket list of places to go to, and experiences I must blog about. My favorite things - nice rainy days, the smell of cakes in the oven, playing in the snow, glasses of wine and dark chocolate.

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