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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Simple Step-By-Step Tutorial for Decorating a Cars Birthday Cake

First off, show of hands … who has the song “Step by Step” by NKTOB in their head because of this post title?

Even if you didn’t, I betcha do now.

Anyways …

Since posting about Mason’s Disney Cars birthday party, I’ve had a couple of emails asking for more details on the cake I decorated. 
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars birthday cake

Like I said in my last post, I’d already decided to do a write-up about that so you’re in luck! I took pictures and everything, y’all! Now lets all pretend this is one of those incredibly impressive DIY blogs instead of a minorly-popular humour thingy, and jump in to the how-to’s. And I promise you, its super easy. Seriously! I also apologize in advance for the initial lack of photos … I didn’t think about doing a tutorial on this until I was about to start cutting the cakes into each other. Ok, here we go …

If it isn’t immediately obvious, your first step is to bake a cake. Two, actually. I used Love & Olive Oil’s Chocolate Stout Cake recipe which gave me enough for exactly two 9 inch round cakes, but you can really use whatever you’d like, and whatever sized round pans you prefer (just make sure your recipe accommodates for larger or smaller sizes!). I like the stout cake because its chocolaty and quite dense (almost brownie-like), which makes it nice and sturdy for decorating.

Once you’ve baked your two round cakes and they’ve cooled, try your best to level the rounded part at the top a bit with a knife and then flip them over so the bottom is now the top. Nice and smooth, huh? Get down on eye level and make sure the two cakes are fairly close to the same height, because you’re about to put these suckers together and don’t want a weird hill marring your decorating-goddess-like skillz. Word! Oh, and I should add that I didn’t do a filling in the middle for these cakes as, to be honest, it was only for a bunch of kids. And I was already booting for them with the Guinness beer in the cake, so they shouldn’t have been complaining.

Now that the cakes are levelled, you need to cut a small section out of one of them so they nestle into each other like two puzzle pieces. I used the bottom of the cake pan as a template, and just cut a little ways into the cake to make a small semicircle.
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (2) 
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake (12)
And now they should fit snuggly into each other. Like so:
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (3)
At this point you want to make your choice of icing for the cakes. I went with Love & Olive Oil’s Vanilla Bean Buttercream because it’s yummers, and just added some extra icing sugar until I had a slightly stiffer consistency. The recipe as written made more than enough to decorate my two 9 inch rounds, btw. Again, you can use whatever recipe you’d like but just keep in mind that you want to be able to tint it a green colour so a paler icing (as opposed to a chocolate) is preferable.  Now slap a tiny bit of whatever icing you make between the two cakes to stick ‘em together, and lets move on.

Remove about 1 – 1.5 cups of icing (I’m just guessing here) and set it aside because its going to be the white. Using food colouring (I prefer Wilton’s gel colours), tint the remaining green and get ready to crumb coat!

Crumb coating a cake is simply putting a thin layer of icing all over it, and sticking it in the fridge for 15 minutes. What this does is slightly harden the icing, trapping all those nasty crumbs so they don’t mess up your actual decorating layer. Neat, hey? Don’t worry about it being perfect, or if bits of the cake are showing through. You’re going to put more icing on top later so it doesn’t really matter! Here’s what my cake looked like before I popped it in the fridge for 15 minutes:
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (4)   
Crumb coating done and cake is out of the fridge? Great! Now take more of your icing, and put your actual green decorating layer down on the tops and sides. One thing I wish I’d done was put a decently-heavy layer of icing on the section of the cake that would have the “3” on it (which we’ll do later in cookie crumbs), because once we cut the cake the people who got pieces of the road got kindof a bum deal, with very little icing to enjoy and mostly just dry cookie. If that makes sense. You do want to try and make the sides of the cake decently smooth at this point, but don’t knock yourself out for the top … we’ll be covering that up with even more icing later on.  

Now the “3”. I know this part looks complicated or like I used a template or maybe even that I'm some kindof Number 3-making savant but ... nope. Just cups and old I.D cards! Eyeball the placement, and lightly press them down.
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (5) 
Neat, hey?

That’s my old university I.D. masquerading as the top of the Number 3, btw. Ah, to be young and innocent once more ...   
   
Now carefully add a small amount of cookie crumbs onto the cake, placing them as close to the cups and I.D. cards as possible in small piles. I used a spoon to scoop them into place.
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (6)
This part isn’t hard but if you’re anal like me its slow-moving because you do not want any crumbs falling down the sides of your cake. Because then your entire world might collapse from the mere thought of having a cake that’s not totally perfect, and you will scream at the top of your lungs “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” as you hurl both yourself and your cake off the balcony in despair. *please note: my balcony is a foot off the ground*

Also keep in mind that you do not actually need too many cookie crumbs for this part … maybe 2 cups? Don’t do what I did, which was go crazy at Bulk Barn and purchase enough cookie crumbs to cover the entire top of my kitchen table:
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  
Those are my leftover crumbs.

Anyways, once your crumbs are in place you can begin gently patting and smoothing them down onto the cake. I tried to keep the edges slightly clear of crumbs because I knew I’d be putting more icing there later.
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (7)
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (8) You’ll notice that I had a few wayward crumbs near the middle of my “3” but again, I didn’t stress too much because they were about to be covered up with more icing.

Now carefully remove the cups and I.D. cards and voila! You’re left with a slightly-ragged looking Number 3! You can now fill an icing bag with the remaining green icing and start piping it onto the cake with whichever tip you’d prefer. I used a grass tip for the, you guessed it, grass (Wilton #233).
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (9)
Because I used a pure buttercream (all butter, no shortening), my icing had a tendency to start looking melted after about 5 minutes of work due to the heat of my hands warming the bag. If this happens to you, just pop the bag into the fridge for 2-3 minutes and then get back at ‘er! Since you also need to outline the “3” with the white icing you set aside, you could actually alternate between the bag of green icing and the bag of white icing, chilling one in the fridge while you do a bit of piping with the other. With that being said, I used a star tip to outline the “3” in white (a Wilton #18).
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (10)
Try to keep the bulk of the white icing touching other icing as opposed to the cookie crumb road. If you don’t, you’ll find that the icing often lifts up when you’re trying to pull the bag away as it just takes the cookie crumbs with it (which is why I tried to keep a bit of an icing border around the outside of the “3” when I was patting the cookie crumbs down).

Pipe a little grass around the bottom, and you’re almost done!
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (11)
For the lines on the road I used the remaining white icing with a plain circle tip (Wilton #12). Would I do that again? No. I really struggled with getting the icing to adhere to the cookie crumbs without lifting up as I pulled the bag away, and it made for some slightly-awkward looking lines (a couple may-or-may-not resemble male genitalia). Next time I’d look for some sort of white or yellow candy that I could press in there instead … it would’ve been so.much.easier.

Once you’re done the lines,place your cars and you’re good to go!
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (13)  
I did the decorating the day before the party, and the day of I added two small checkered flags to the middle (purchased from Oriental Trading Company), as well as two homemade Start and Finish signs.
TheDomesticProject - Simple step by step instructions for decorating a Cars cake  (14)
See? Tedious, but not so hard right? And now I send you on your way, you gorgeous little cake-decorating-mama you! Good luck, and if anyone actually uses this tutorial I’d love to see pictures of the finished product!
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61 comments:

  1. Love it. You did a great job. If Belle wasn't such a fairy princess and rainbows kind of gal, I would use this for her third bday. Oh well, maybe there's hope for O. Although, Bellle will probably play some Jedi Mind trick on him so he wants a princess themed bday!

    Glad to see you blogging again btw!

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. cakes huntsville al

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  2. Came out beautifully Andra! Great job!

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  3. It looks amazing! I am hoping to do something similar with cookie crumbs and construction toys for H's birthday in December!

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  4. Amazing job!! Guess that cake decorating class did pay off in the end!! You are very creative!

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  5. This looks great! I'm definitely stealing the idea for my son's Cars themed 3rd birthday party! I'm just curious how many people you think this cake fed?

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    1. Hi! I didn't actually count, but I would estimate 25? Maybe even 30? They were smaller pieces, but we had about that many people at the party, and as far as I know even got a piece. Hope this helps!

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  6. Wow, I just absolutely LOVE this! You did a fabulous job and thank you for this awesome tutorial! I will be trying to make this in a few days for my Godson's 3rd bday...I'm a complete amateur, but I'm being optimistic because you make it look so easy! :) I'll try to link to a pic when it's all over...hopefully it works out lol.

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    1. Thanks so much! And good luck on your cake ... if you're able to link a pic or make a post about it, I'd love to see it! :)

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  7. Hi! I made this for my son's birthday party yesterday and it turned out great!! Thanks so much for sharing!!

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  8. Did you leave it in the fridge overnight? It's hot here at the moment and wondered if the icing might melt overnight....and also do the cookie crumbs go soggy?

    Fingers covered in green colouring. Half way there.

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    1. SO JEALOUS that it's hot where you are right now. I can use my garage as a huge walk-in freezer at the moment.

      For the cake ... yup, go ahead and put 'er in the fridge. That's what I did (and always do) with cakes. Just make sure to take it out about 2 hours before its going to be eaten to allow time for the icing to soften, otherwise it'll be like biting into a solid block of butter. Unless, you know, you like that kind of thing. Oh, and FYI ... if ever you needed to, you could actually FREEZE the cake, fully-iced as well. You can only do it once (don't thaw and then refreeze), but I've done that tons of times for up to a month ahead and haven't noticed any change in taste or texture.

      Can't wait to hear how it turns out!

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    2. Oh, and for the cookie crumbs ... nope, didn't notice any sogginess. I'm not sure if that would be different in a high-humidity climate, however ... its always quite dry where we are.

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  9. I just made this for my son's Mario Kart party!
    The best thing I did was make the 'lines' for the inside of the 3 on wax paper and freeze them.
    Then I used a butter knife to peel them off the paper and place them on the track!
    Thank you so much for this tutorial, the cake was a HUGE hit! :)
    http://s1042.photobucket.com/user/limepiranha/library/3rd%20Birthday?sort=3&page=1

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  10. Your tutorial made one little boy in South Africa VERY happy on Friday! Carlo turned 3 on 17 May 2013 and begged for a McQueen cake - thanks so much for sharing! You can view my version here...

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10201246024219357&l=9115bfc8d2
    and
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10201246022939325&l=a984655319

    Thanks a lot!
    Ilse

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  11. I am really shocked by the info of this website and i am glad i experienced a seem over the weblog. thank you so a lot for sharing this sort of wonderful data.
    auto tinting
    car window tint/tinting

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  12. I finished my daughter's birthday cake about an hour ago and I love it. I usually use fondant anytime I make a cake because it just looks so much smoother and neater. And because I really suck with an icing bag! But none the less I gave your tutorial a try and of course made it my own. It has the same concept withthe cookie crumbs, but considering I only own 3 icing tips I had to work with what I had. Mine is deffinstly not as neat and tidy as yours. The cookie crumbs get everywhere! Thanks again for your tutorial and I wish I knew how to share a picture with you of my finished product.

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  13. I am definitely going to be doing this for my son's birthday this year! Thank you so much for the tutorial :)

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  14. Thank you so much im going to attempt this for my sons 3rd bday in a few weeks. Can I ask are the cookie crumbs brown or black not sure what to use might have to crush cookies myself but dont know what biscuits to use

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  15. This is awesome. I am doing it for my sons third birthday tomorrow. Thanks for the in depth tutorial for the non-artistic folks like me to follow.

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  16. You are the best ! we did it for my friend's son birthday, The best tutorial ever!! Here is the pic of how it came out: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10203280878276697&set=a.10202004726253694.1073741833.1051922390&type=1&theater

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  17. Ditto to what Lisa said! I pinned this long ago for my son's 3rd birthday, but didn't read the instruction. I was stressing last week of how to make black icing, so I clicked and was so happy to find out it was cookie crumbs! Thanks for the in depth tutorial. My last cake I made was for his 2nd birthday. My isn't as perfect with you, but I think it is pretty neat and he was happy with it. http://missamericamisterbelgium.blogspot.be/2014/07/happy-3rd-birthday.html

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  18. I'm making this for a woman's son's 1st birthday. I love your tutorial !! Truly gorgeous for being homemade. I've been looking for a frosting recipe WITHOUT shortening (since I'm kind of a health nut) and glad to see I found one ! I think I'm going to do a 2-layer cake, but I may do your idea... need to see. ;] Thank you for this ! It's a life saver ! :D

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  19. Love this!!! It is exactly what I needed. My question is what kind of cookies are they?? Oreos? I have never seen bagged cookie crumbs. Making this Friday please help!!!

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  20. Thanks for this fantastic tutorial. I made this for my son's birthday this past weekend and it was a huge hit! I'm a complete newbie at decorating, but this was easy and didn't take long at all. I was originally worried that my green icing was too minty coloured, but I noticed it darkened to a nice grass green with time. I was also worried I wouldn't have enough icing but that was no problem either. I ended up making 2 types of stout cakes. The one you used which was quite heavy and nigella lawson's guinness cake which is more moist and not as dense. I've made the 2nd one several times and it's still by far our favorite but it was fun to try something new.

    Thanks again for this great tutorial.

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  21. Thank-you so much for such a wonderful tutorial, I'll be giving this a go in a few weeks for my Cars mad nephew :)

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  22. Thank you very much for the tutorial.

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  23. thanks for the tutorial! just did this for my 3 year old's birthday. tip on the road lines -- I used the oreo filling from the oreos! twist the oreo open, scrap with a knife and you get a nice half-dollar size of cream. then, trim with a knife to desired "road line size". :)

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  24. I love it!! My son wants a Cars theme for his 3rd Birthday party this year. I think I will attempt this cake but do the checkered flag cake inside. Thanks for the tutorial!! awesome job!

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  25. I loved looking at this cake so much that I finally decided to make it myself, for my son's 3rd birthday. It came out really nice, even with my being less than talented in the kitchen. Here is the link to my version:
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10205559921310977&set=pcb.10205559921990994&type=1&theater

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  26. Thank you for posting these directions. I found them so easy! Thank you for the inspiration. I have created a construction site theme with this. I loved making it! Here are two pictures of my cake:
    https://goo.gl/goKcmz
    https://goo.gl/AfFtTV

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  27. Oh I love this! I cannot wait to do this for my son's birthday, he will go crazy! :)

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  28. That cup and card trick is brilliant! I love it! I may be using this for our son's party. Thanks!

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  29. Good Morning!
    My name is annette and I came across your blog Decorating cars birthday cake. I must say it was an awesome tutorial for a beginners decorator! I have a question regading the cookie crumbs. Did you use butter to make it stick and get that smooth finish? what else can be used to make a number 3 besides cookie crumbs?
    Thank You

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  30. Hi Annette, I am thinking of using a brown or black sugar sheet. They are sold wherever cake decorating items are or dark brown icing could be used as well.

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  31. Thank you for sharing...I made one for my son's birthday and it turned out great!!!!
    www.mrsodaniels.blogspot.com

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  32. I'm looking for a cake for my son's 8th birthday and like that this is easily modified for that number as well! I also like that it's cookie crumbs for the road--I was thinking it was black icing and didn't like that idea. I'm thinking Good and Plenty candies would work for the road dashes.

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  33. Thank you for the tutorial! I used Duff's black fondant for the road - and without the lines so it looked more like a race track. I also made a two-layer cake and it was still easy with your instructions!


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  34. me gustaria saber cuanto pesa o un aproximado...

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  35. me gustaria saber cuanto pesa o un aproximado...

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  36. Wow, I love how you replicated the grass! Amazing work and an easy-to-follow tutorial.

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  37. Thank you for the great tutorial! Such a fun cake to make for my little guy. He was speechless.

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  38. Super cute, I think I may attempt this! The picture makes the cake look tall...you said you used 9" pans, how deep were they...2" or 3". Thanks for the post!

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  39. me gusta tu torta es facil y hermosa

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  40. This was SUCH a great tutorial, thank you for the post. I made this for my son's third birthday today and it was a huge hit. I made a marble cake with chocolate ganache filling and used Ermine buttercream for frosting. I realised after I'd coloured the remainder frosting grey that I had no green left for the circles of the cups! So I used sprinkles to cover up my idiocy ;-) The fondant Lightning McQueen and chequered flag with my son's name, were made by my husband as I was hopelessly out of time! I got lucky with that man :-) Thank you once again for this fab tutorial. I'd have nevrr attempted it had you not broken it down in such easy-to-follow steps. Made it so much less intimidating.

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  41. I can't seem to be able to upload a picture though...

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  42. I can't seem to be able to upload a picture though...

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  43. This was SUCH a great tutorial, thank you for the post. I made this for my son's third birthday today and it was a huge hit. I made a marble cake with chocolate ganache filling and used Ermine buttercream for frosting. I realised after I'd coloured the remainder frosting grey that I had no green left for the circles of the cups! So I used sprinkles to cover up my idiocy ;-) The fondant Lightning McQueen and chequered flag with my son's name, were made by my husband as I was hopelessly out of time! I got lucky with that man :-) Thank you once again for this fab tutorial. I'd have nevrr attempted it had you not broken it down in such easy-to-follow steps. Made it so much less intimidating.

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  44. Thanks. Used this tutorial in large part this weekend.

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  45. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B54ytFxPx8FMQ1BJOEVhNG1EMm8/view?usp=drivesdk

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  46. Thank you so much for the step by step tips for the best cake in the word (according to my 3 year old little boy) . I have attached a photo above and added my little ones favourite 'Blaze and the Monster Machines' figures on top, he along with all the family were so impressed and I really enjoyed doing it!! Thanks again!!

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  47. So stinking easy...great instructions. I did a two layer cake with no issues, 1/2 chocolate 1/2 yellow... I froze ribbons of white icing for the center lines as recommended by another person and it worked amazingly well. So grateful you added leaving the icing around the edge of the road...cookie crumbs Are definitely not meant to be iced. Thank you!

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  48. The Cake was Superb!!! I found this cake is not only attractive but also it is very tasty. Now often at each occasion I bake this cake for my lovely kids.
    Online Cake Delivery in Noida
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  49. Hi..this is a lovely cake.. I just wanted to ask .how much weight was this cake ?

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  50. Fantastic blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Many thanks! california cakes redlands

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  51. Hi Andra,

    Your cake looked amazing! I want to try it for my son's 3rd bday. I'm not a baker at all so I want to know
    - do you bake the cake the night before?
    - how did you make the start and finish flags?
    Sorry if my questions are a bit silly!

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