Every Little Blue Truck birthday party requires a Little Blue Truck birthday cake! The cake I made for Bubba’s party was all chocolate cake, buttercream frosting, and a small amount of marzipan. I don’t do fondant because I think it tastes like a pile of foul nastiness and every kid I know peels it off their cake. I’m not about to spend a bunch of time and effort making food if I know in advance no one is going to eat it. I don’t even spend a bunch of time and effort making food when I know in advance people ARE going to eat it. This cake is all yum!
The first thing I do when I am planning a birthday cake is to sketch out a draft of what I want it to look like. The ensures I have enough cake before I start and that the proportion is sort of reasonable. When I started sketching this cake I thought I would just make the actual blue truck. As Bubba started talking about the dump truck in the book more and more often I knew I would need to add that element as well. I added the toad to make it more of a scene and that was that!
Before we go further I need to tell you that some of these directions are sort of clumped together. For example, the entire decorating of the blue truck is in Step 15. There is no easy way to break the entire process into steps without having 1,934 steps. Just know that going in!
Brown mixed sprinkles – I got some at Michaels. They were toffee flavored and super yummy!
Small offset spatula
Cardboard cake board
Trader Joe’s toffee and chocolate covered popcorn
One pack of chocolate covered mini donuts – Get the super processed kind that taste like you are chewing chocolate flavored candles. They hold together better when you cut them.
1. Put a glob (technical term) of frosting in the center of your cake board.
2. Plop down one of the full sheet cakes and get it centered where you want it on the board.
3. Cover the top of that cake with frosting. At this point, leave the frosting white. This is your only chance to fill between the layers so don’t be shy!
4. Plop down a second full sheet cake on top of the first and cover that one with more frosting.
5. Now is time to make the dump truck. Lucky for us, the book that inspired this party is also the PERFECT size for the dump truck! I cut three squares the same size as the book out of cake and stacked them up with frosting between each layer. I stacked them so they were as close to the rear right corner of the cake as they could be.
6. Next, cut one rectangle of cake that is the same width as the truck but only half the length. Put it on the front half of the truck and cover the top with frosting.
7. Cut a smaller rectangle of cake and put it on the top front of the cake. Cover the top with frosting. This will be that overhang part of the dump truck.
8. Cut out some cake from the front of the second layer from the top. This will make the overhang portion stand out more. Also, cut out a small portion of the front of the third layer so that the front of the truck has a bit of a hood.
9. Using a spoon, scoop out some of the bottom layer of cake to create the wheel holes.
10. Now we need to make the blue truck. I made this separately on a plate I turned upside down and covered with parchment paper. I did this because I wanted to put the details on the front end of the blue truck but I also needed it touching the back of the dump truck on the final cake. There was no real measurement for this part. I just cut out two rectangles that were smaller in width and length than the dump truck, but that allowed me to fit a small toad in at the end.
11. Put one rectangle down on the parchment paper. Cover it with frosting and put the second rectangle of cake down on top of the first. Cover the top with frosting.
12. Cut two smaller rectangles of cake, a little smaller than half of the size of the bottom two rectangles. Stack them just forward of center of the cakes with frosting on the top of both pieces.
13. Cut out a notch from the top piece of cake by making a diagonal cut towards the rear of the cake. This will make the overhang portion of the blue truck. Cut a slight diagonal from the notch down through the second layer of cake creating the windshield area. Cut two pieces from either side of the third layer of cake to create the hood of the truck. Repeat the spoon trick to make the wheel holes.
14. Cover any area where you can see cake with frosting. This is called a crumb coat and putting it on will make the whole decorating process easier. It keeps all those little brown crumbs you see everywhere from getting all stuck in the final coat of frosting. It doesn’t have to be a thick layer, but it needs to be there. Once this is done, put both cakes (the big guy and the blue truck) in the fridge until the frosting is set. I usually do all the carving and crumb coating two days before the party and let it harden overnight.
15. To decorate the blue truck…good luck. Just kidding! Take a few spoonfuls of frosting and put them in bowl. Add blue dye until you get a color you are happy with. Cover the whole cake with blue lovin’. Smooth out the frosting by dipping your offset spatula in a glass of hot water and running it over the frosting. Repeat this ad nauseam until the entire cake is smooth. You will need to keep a paper towel handy to wipe off the spatula as you go. Take some of your marzipan and flatten it out until it is less than 1/4 inch thick. Cut out a front windshield and side window shapes and stick them in place. Use your fingers to smoosh the edges so they are flush with the cake. Make headlights by rolling fondant into balls and sticking them on the front of the truck. I put candy eyeballs on top of the headlights, but you can get the same look by dipping a toothpick in the black dye and dotting it straight on the marzipan. Take a dab of black dye and mix it in with some marzipan. Roll it into a little worm and stick it vertically to the front center of the truck. Dip a toothpick into the blue frosting and drag a line up the center of the the front and each side windshield. To get the dirt look on the windows, I took an extra piece of the marzipan that I dyed black and dabbed it on the windows. Because that is what the professionals do, I promise. Cut two of the donuts in half and stick them in the wheel holes to make tires. Take a clean tooth pick and break it in half. Put a small ball of black marzipan on the pointy end and stick the other end in the front/side of the door area to create side mirrors. Take a tiny blob of black marzipan and make a door handle with it. Dip another clean toothpick in blue dye and drag it along the wheel wells and doors of the cake to create some definition.
16. Decorating the dump truck is similar in a lot of ways to decorating the blue truck. Put some of your white frosting in a separate bowl and dye it yellow. Cover the entire truck in yellow frosting and smooth it using the warm water method mentioned in step 15. Create windows using the same method as the blue truck. I added some toothpicks rubbed with black dye to make the windshield wipers. Using black marzipan, create the exhaust pipe that runs up the side of the truck and the grill and bumper on the front. Make eyes out of plain marzipan the same way you did the blue truck eyes. Dye a small amount of marzipan orange and make 5 little balls to use as the lights on the top of the truck front. Dip a toothpick in black dye to create the detail lines on the sides and front of the truck. Create wheels out of the donuts as you did with the blue truck. Cover the top of the dump truck area with the chocolate covered popcorn. The popcorn kinda looks like poop when it is all piled up there, but just convince yourself it doesn’t and go with it.
17. Once your dump truck is decorated, put the blue truck on top of the cake so that it is touching the back of the dump truck. We are trying to make this look like the trucks are being pushed out of the mud, so they need to be touching.
18. Dye the rest of your frosting brown/copper. Cover the bottom sheet cakes with the brown frosting. You can kind of pile it up around the tires to make it look more like they are in mud.
19. Sprinkled the brown sprinkle mix around the base of the trucks and off the bottom left corner of the cake. This is meant to create a road.
20. Dye marzipan green and mold it into a toad shape. My toad was sitting because the marzipan isn’t strong enough to “stand” on those skinny frog legs. Using the plain marzipan create eyes and a smile. Use a toothpick dipped in black dye to create the teeth and eye details. Sit your toad down behind the blue truck so that it looks like it is pushing the trucks.
Wrap your cakes in plastic wrap/foil and freeze them. This will allow you to make them far in advance so you aren’t scrubbing your mixer out the day before the party. It also is much easier to carve the cake if it is frozen.
I had trouble with one batch of my frosting. It never came together, even after about 20 minutes of beating. There are other buttercream recipes that use powdered sugar and are a bit easier to make. Feel free to try one of those!
If you are keeping any of the frosting overnight before you are using it, let it come to room temperature before you try to use it. I always try to use it too soon and it creates some ugly lumps.
After I was all done I trimmed the excess cardboard off from around the cake with a pair of scissors. Not at all necessary, but you can do it without too much trouble.
Keep a TON of paper towels on hand when you are doing the final decoration. I use them to wipe the offset spatula and soak up extra dye when I use too much.
The only time I ever wear my apron is when I am decorating a cake. I end up wiping my hands on it 12,323 times per cake.