Lightning McQueen Birthday Cake

Cross your baby’s first birthday party finish line with a cake inspired by none other than the rookie racer from Radiator Springs.

You’ll need:

  • 8-inch square baked cake (removed from the pan and cooled)
  • Serrated kitchen knife for leveling the cake
  • Wax paper
  • Cake board or piece of cardboard
  • Red frosting
  • Spatula for frosting the cake
  • Template for Lightning McQueen Birthday Cake
  • Scissors
  • Box of prepared white fondant
  • Gel food coloring (red, yellow, blue, and black)
  • Food preparation gloves (for tinting the fondant)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Rolling pin
  • Kitchen knife
  • Small round fondant cutters (3/4 inch and 1 inch)*
  • 2 white sugar pearls and a toothpick (optional)

** If you don’t have the exact sizes of fondant cutters, you can improvise by using other cylindrical household objects, such as small bottle caps or pastry bag tips.


1. Using the serrated kitchen knife (a bread knife works well for this), level the cake by carefully slicing off the domed portion of the top. Then place the cake, cut side down, onto a wax paper-covered piece of cardboard.

2. Frost the cake with red frosting.

3. Print the template and cut out the pieces.

4. Roll out a 2-inch square of white fondant between sheets of wax paper into a rectangle about 5- by 8-inches and 3/8 inch thick. Use the template pieces and a kitchen knife to cut a windshield and mouth from the fondant. Use the 1-inch round fondant cutter to cut holes in the windshield where the eyes will go.

5. Cut a 3/4-inch square from the remaining fondant and knead red food coloring into it. Roll the red fondant into a rectangle about 2- by 7-inches, and use the template to cut out a windshield trim piece. Next, knead yellow food coloring into a 1½-inch square of white fondant, roll it out, and cut out a pair of lightning stripes and a pair of headlights.


6. For the eyes, tint two small hunks of fondant blue and black, respectively. Cut two 1-inch-wide irises from the blue fondant. Then use the 3/4-inch cutter to cut a hole in the center of each iris. Use the same 3/4-inch cutter to cut pupils from the black fondant and then insert them into the holes in the irises. To make the eyes appear more dimensional, use the tip of a toothpick to press a white sugar pearl partway into each pupil, if you like.

7. Place the completed eyes into the eyeholes in the windshield.

8. Set the assembled windshield in place atop the cake. Then set the windshield trim above it, overlapping the two pieces slightly. (Tip: If you want the windshield to appear a bit inclined, you can mound some extra frosting underneath it.)

9. Press the headlights partway into the frosting on the front corners of the cake.

10. Gently press the fondant mouth partway into the frosting on the front edge of the cake. Likewise, apply the lightning stripes to the sides of the cake.

For more Cars fun, check out the official Cars site.

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