Jaxson's 3rd Birthday Party

If you are planning a party for someone who likes Disney's Cars, then you will want to check out today's tutorials!  This past weekend, my sweet nephew turned 3 and we had a party to celebrate.  Jaxson loves playing with cars, and especially likes Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater from the Disney's Cars movie.  We wanted to have a big celebration this year, as it was his first birthday with us!  Last year we celebrated his birthday, as they had received the adoption match, but we hadn't gotten to meet this special boy yet! 

My sister definitely has a knack for decorating and planning parties.  From ideas of her own, and some from Pinterest, she created a very cute space for the party.  Here's a few pics of the party area.


I was in charge of all things sweet which included a cake, smash cake, and cupcake favors.  I scoured the internet searching for cute Cars themed cakes for months in advance. In the end I used some of the ideas I found online, mixed with some of my own. The amount of baking and decorating was no small task, as there were a lot of people wanting to help celebrate his big day!  I ended up spending almost the entire day before baking and decorating, but the smile on Jaxson's face when he saw the cake definitely made it worth it!

I had been looking forward to making the cake, but was also nervous as I wanted it to be perfect for him!  My day of baking got off to a rough start...  My goal was to make a checkerboard cake so when you cut into it, it would look like the racing flag. I bought a checkerboard pan a couple months ago, but with my recent move I never got the chance to try it out.  Let me offer this advice to anyone trying a checkerboard cake - you need very thick batters!  I wanted to use my go-to recipes for chocolate and vanilla, as I knew my family liked them.  I knew my chocolate recipe was very thin, but I assumed the thicker vanilla would help hold the shape.  It didn't...

I poured the batter into the slots of the pan and it seemed to hold its shape.  But as it started baking the chocolate settled to the bottom and it didn't work. In the end, though, I had a "mess-up" cake my family enjoyed eating for dinner. If anyone has had success with the checkerboard cake, I'd love to hear your recipes! 

I can be a little bit of a perfectionist when it comes to the cakes, so I was extremely disappointed I couldn't make it work. Within the next 15 minutes I managed to dump a full bottle of vanilla extract, spill batter on the floor, and mess up the batter for another cake.  Finally I calmed down, refocused, and started hitting my stride again.

So here are the treats I made, along with some explanations.  As I had a LOT of work to do, I didn't take the time to take a lot of pictures along the way. So I hope my explanations will suffice.  As always, feel free to email, Facebook or comment on the blog with any questions!  

Main Cake

The cake I made first was the two tiered main cake.  This design was based off one I found on Pinterest, with some changes along the way.  This was my first attempt at a tiered cake and I was very nervous!  My husband read with me online to get an idea of what all was needed to support the cake.  We chose the more dense cake for the bottom, but still used dowel rods for the support system. You can read more about stacking cakes on Wilton's website (or other cake decorating sites).

Here are the steps I used to create the cake!
  • Bake and ice both an 8 in and 11 in cake (or whatever sizes you are needing).  I like the look of a 2-3 in difference in size for stacked cakes.  I was going for 3 in tall cakes.  Mine are slightly less, but close.  You can always fill the cakes with buttercream to create a taller look.
  • Make sure both cakes are on cake boards.  I choose a decorative thick one for the bottom layer and thin one for top layer.  You don't want to notice the top one, it is just there for support.  I cut it just slightly larger than the cake, to make it easier to pick up.  The border covers any part showing. A dab of icing can be placed between cake and board to "glue" it onto board.
  • Create fondant pieces for the cake.  All of these, except the road, can be made in advance. As shown, the cake has 5 main fondant components:
  1. Road
  2. Traffic cone
  3. Fondant character heads
  4. "Jaxson" logo
  5. Checkerboard "Happy Birthday"
Road - 

  • For the road, I started with a package of black fondant.  I usually buy white fondant and tint it, but black is very difficult, and time consuming, to create.  Since I needed a lot of black, I decided to buy it.  
  • Next I rolled it out to be thin (<1/16 in). I have the Wilton Roll-N-Cut Mat which made this process very easy.  It is a large mat that has a grid and markings so you know the length, width, and even diameter of the fondant you are rolling out.  
  • I then simply used two round objects to cut out the shape. I actually found a pot lid that was just slightly smaller than the top of the cake. This became a perfect fondant cutter as it had an edge around it.  I also found a bowl that worked of the inside of the road. It is ok if it is slightly smaller than the cake, as the border will cover the gap.
  • When I was ready to put the road on, the icing was still somewhat sticky and hadn't crusted fully.  I was able to attach the road without using additional icing or gum glue.  If the road doesn't seem to stick, though, use one of the edible adhesives to attach it.
Traffic Cone -
  • Tint small amount of fondant (approx large marble size) orange.  If you are using Wilton gels, just use equal red and yellow, as there is no orange.
  • Roll out a thin layer of fondant and cut out a 1/4 in - 1/2 in square piece.  Use your finger, or a spatula, to round out the edges. 
  • Create a cone shape out of the rest of the orange fondant.  I usually start with a ball shape and then pinch and roll one end to get the cone point.  I hold the other end against my hand to keep it flat.  You can also create a cone shape by inserting into one of your decorating tips.  Just make sure it has been sprinkled with some cornstarch inside, so the fondant will not stick in it.
  • Roll out white fondant paper thin.
  • Cut two long, thin strips of the fondant to create the lines on the traffic cone.
  • Attach the strips using gum glue (water with small balls of gum paste or fondant).
Fondant Character Faces - You may recognize these from my previous tutorial.  See that post for step by step instructions (including lots of pics).

Jaxson Logo - Any Disney Cars fans will probably recognize this as the logo for the movie, with "Cars" replaced with "Jaxson."  

  • Create gray fondant by tinting the white fondant with the black gel. 
  • Roll out the approx 1/8 in and cut out a v-shape.  You want the two edges to be thinner on the ends than in the middle.  I just used a spatula to create the cuts and shape the piece.
  • Tint fondant red for the next component.  I have trouble getting a real red shape with the Wilton gels, for some reason.  I've found that the Duff food coloring seems to get a more vibrant red.  You can also purchase that at Michaels.  It is more of a traditional food coloring, so it affects the consistency more in icing, but it works well for the fondant.
  • Cut out a banner shape for the main portion of the red.  I rolled this to just under 1/8 in.
  • Attach the red piece to the gray "V" using gum glue.
  • Roll out small pieces of fondant between fingers and shape into letters of the name or word you are creating. This size will depend on how long of a word you are creating.
  • CAREFULLY attach the letters using gum glue.  Don't worry it you get a lot of excess gum glue on the red portion. When dried, you will not notice it.
"Happy Birthday" and "3" -  
  • Roll out white fondant to 1/8 in.
  • Cut out "Happy Birthday" using cookie cutters.  If you don't have alphabet cookie cutters, they are a great investment!  If not, though, you can free hand.  Another option would be printing out bubble letters and placing the page over the fondant.  You could then use an Exacto knife to cut out the letters in the paper and the fondant.
  • You could cut out small pieces of black fondant to create the checkerboard look.  But to make it easier, use a black edible marker to create the squares on the shape.  I started by drawing out horizontal and vertical lines to make the grid shape.  I then colored in the appropriate squares.
  • The 3 was cut out using a cookie cutter and 1/4 in thick red fondant.
Back to the cake now...
  • Attach the road to the top tier cake.
  • Place toy cars on the road 
  • Attach traffic cone, fondant "3", and checker board flags to the center area of the cake.  Use your imagination to create additional pieces for this area.
  • Attach character faces and "Jaxson" logo
  • Prep pastry bag with coupler and tip 234 (grass tip).
  • Fill pastry bag with leftover green buttercream (leaving some in bowl for later).
  • Pipe grass along the outer and inside edge of the road.  Hold bag at 45 degree angle and apply pressure and then pull away from cake as you gradually let go of pressure.
  • Pipe grass around any other pieces in the center of the cake.
  • DON'T pipe the bottom edge of either cake yet - this will come after assembling.
  • Pipe grass around the top edge of the bottom tier cake.
  • Assemble the "Happy Birthday" letters around cake.  Attach with gum glue, if needed.
  • Deliver cake to final location before stacking - if at all possible.
  • Cut 5 dowel rods down to the height of the lower tier.  Make sure not to cut the rods on or over cake, as you don't want shavings in icing! If the cake is not the same thickness throughout, cut to the lowest point.  Make sure ALL pieces are the same height to ensure the top tier is level.
  • Insert four rods in a square shape on the bottom tier, just inside the location of the edge of the top cake.  I found this edge by slightly pressing the cake board and top tier onto the icing.
  • Place fifth rod in center of the cake for extra support.
  • Place top tier on the bottom tier and make sure it seems stable.
  • Finish piping border along the bottom of both cakes. I actually didn't use it on bottom tier, but you could add it there.

I know, that's a lot of work!  But that is the hardest part of all the tutorials, and definitely worth it!!  The next cake is MUCH easier.  

I wanted my nephew to have a smash cake just for him.  It also needed to have dairy free icing so I altered my buttercream recipe.  I used all shortening (instead of 1/2 shortening, 1/2 butter).  I replaced milk with a mixture of non-dairy creamer powder and water.

Lightning McQueen smash cake -

  • Bake a 6 in round cake that is about 1 in tall. Once cooled, place on cake board.
  • Tint buttercream red using coloring gels and small amount of liquid food coloring, if needed.  I was having trouble getting it to tint with just gel, and had to use some food coloring drops as well.  
  • Ice the cake with the red buttercream.
  • Cut out a shape for the mouth and eyes with white fondant rolled paper thin.
  • If icing hasn't fully hardened, place the fondant on the icing and it should stick.  If not, use gum glue to attach them.
  • Cut out two circles from black fondant and place on the eye shape to complete the eye look.
  • Roll out small balls of black and white fondant to create the border for the cake.
  • Put some gum glue on each piece with a paintbrush and attach to the bottom edge of cake.  This creates a cute border and pulls in the checkerboard details from other cake and decor.
Party favors - 

  • Bake cupcakes and let completely cool. I used mainly shiny foil wrappers to not draw attention away from toppers, and add to the car feel.
  • You can pipe, or just ice a small amount of icing to the top of the cupcake.  
  • Attach characters to the top of the cupcake.  Again these faces are all shown in my previous tutorial.  I created the traffic cone with a black fondant rectangle and three colored circles.  These are again attached with gum glue.
  • Place party favors in bag or box with see-through top for a cute touch!  I found these boxes on Amazon and they were the perfect size for the favors.  My sister added some Cars stickers to the sides of the boxes to finish out the look.

As you can see, a LOT of work went into the decor and treats for the party.  But, it was well worth it to see the birthday boy enjoy his day!!  Hope you found some ideas to make your next Cars party extra special! Feel free to share this post with friends on Pinterest, Facebook, or however you like! 


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