How to Make a Car Cake

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks

The 3D car is a wildly popular sculpted cake design for groom’s cakes, birthday cakes and father’s day cakes. Unfortunately, it is an especially time consuming shape to create. I have spent many late nights working on car cakes, realizing that I should either charge more for this type of design or figure out an easier way to do it.

This tutorial demonstrates an easier way to sculpt a 3D car cake. The trick is to minimize the carving, which makes all the subsequent stages easier. This particular groom’s cake was customized for a police officer and Mets/Giants fan but of course you can style your car cake however you like.

Step by Step Instructions

Items Needed for Car Cake

1. Begin with the rectangular ¼ sheet cake. Carve the two narrow edges so that they are rounded.

2. Proceed in the same manner with the 6” x 6” cake, carving the edges off two mirroring sides until the top is arched. Carve the flat half-moon sides slightly so that they taper in towards the top.

3. Roughly crumb coat both cakes with vanilla buttercream and set them in the refrigerator to set. Once the crumb coat is firm, apply a second, thicker coat of buttercream. This second coat should be thick enough that the cake below does not show.

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks

I covered this cake in white modeling chocolate using a technique called the ‘paneling method,’ which is described in the following book:

Cake Decorating with Modeling Chocolate
Cake Decorating with Modeling Chocolate

A buttercream frosting surface is just fine however. Fondant would work as well.

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks
4. Trim and insert four ½ cm thick wooden dowels into the bottom tier within ¾” of the intended perimeter of the top tier (the top tier should sit towards the back of the bottom tier, not in the center). Follow this link to read my tutorial on how to use wood dowels in stacked cakes.

5. Combine equal parts light blue, gray, and white modeling chocolate and marble them.

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks
Roll out the marbled modeling chocolate panels to a thinness of 1/16”, allow to set, and trim into four pieces – two rectangular windshields and two half moon side windows. Be sure to cut the side windows so that the grain of the marble runs horizontally. This will lend the effect of reflections zooming by in the window, adding motion to the car.  Trim the windows to fit ¼” from the edges of the cake so that enough white background remains to frame.

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks
6. Using the clay extruder fitted with a 1/5 cm round die, create long strings of dark modeling chocolate. Allow them to set for 5-10 minutes or until they are easier to handle (do not leave them exposed to the air for too long or they will become brittle and break when bent). Starting at the bottom corner of each window, edge the seam with the chocolate string. The string should adhere with nothing more than a gentle press of the fingers as its being applied.  When the ends meet, trim the excess with a craft utility knife.

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks
7. Create the wheels by cutting two 2 ¼” circles and two 2 ½” circles out of a cake top, cake scrap, or extra slab of chocolate cake. Cut them so that they are angled in one direction. Truncate each one slightly so that when standing, they don’t roll. This way, they will be most stable when applied vertically to the sides of the cake.

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks
8. Dip the tops of the wheels in chocolate glaze. Be careful not to touch the dipped surfaces with a fingertip or it will leave an impression in the chocolate. Set them in the refrigerator to harden for at least one hour.

I used this Recipe for Chocolate Glaze
Chocolate Glaze Recipe

9. Cut radiator parts out of dark modeling chocolate using a craft utility knife. Create headlights and rear brake lights by stacking red, orange, yellow and white modeling chocolate shapes.

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks

Cut out words using letter colors. Create license plates out of white and dark modeling chocolate. Customize them with chocolate writing.

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks
10. Add the tires to the sides of the cakes. Pipe white chocolate trim to create a dripping effect here and there to remind people that it’s a cake. Pipe a buttercream frosting border around the edges of the wheels and around the base of the cake to seal seams.

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks
You can find my recipe and technique for frosting cakes here
Smooth Buttercream Cake Frosting
Smooth Buttercream Frosting Recipes 3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks
The cans in the back are made of modeling chocolate and the strings are also made of modeling chocolate that was passed through the 1/16 cm diameter round die of a clay extruder gun.

3D Car Cake Sculpting Tricks

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How to Make a Car Cake — 5 Comments

  1. That’s the sweetest car cake ever! And it looks so easy to make too especially with your tutorial…I love the window effect! 😀

  2. I love the tutorial. I bought your book and love it! Can you tell me what mold you used for the letters? I would like to buy it. Thanks.