Recipes and Cooking Ideas for Homemakers and Amateur Cooks

Lightning McQueen Cake… Happy Birthday, Regan!

Posted on April 25, 2011
Filed Under Birthday cakes

I’m really glad I have friends who have boys. And that they let me make birthday cakes for them. Otherwise, when would I get a chance to make boy cakes, what with having only girls? I know girls love Lightning McQueen and Thomas the Tank Engine too, but when it comes to birthday cakes, a zoomin’ car or train isn’t the first thing they’d usually pick… although, while I was making this cake, Lexi said, “Mom, I know I’m not a boy, but I WOULD really love a Lightning McQueen cake next time.” I’ll bet she’ll change her mind before December 7. :)

This Lightning McQueen cake was for my friend Joe’s son, Regan. Regan turned the big 5 this past week. Here he is. Cute little guy!


And a brave little guy. He’s all smiles… on the picture, anyway.

This is the first time that I’ve ever written a Kitchen Scrapbook post that I felt like just closing my laptop and crying.

There was pain behind the smiles at the party and there is pain woven throughout this post. There was a mama-shaped hole the size of Texas at this birthday party. Regan suddenly lost his dear mama this past January. It just breaks my heart. And no 5-yr-old should have to celebrate a birthday without a mama. Thus, a little extra love was built into this cake because that thought was in the front of my mind the entire time I was making it. Deb was a dear friend and I feel very honored to have had the privilege of making a birthday cake for her son.


1-2-3 BLOW, Regan!!!!!

I didn’t ask Regan what type of cake he wanted… I was just going to do something in the cowboy/horse dept because that’s a significant part of his surroundings. But… Lexi is in 2nd grade with Regan’s older brother Riley, and she came home from school one day and said, “Riley said Regan wants a race car cake.” So, I asked Joe and he said Regan would love that, either Lightning McQueen or Dale Earnhardt Jr. By the way, did you know that Dale Earnhardt Jr and I have the same birthday? He’s 2 years older, though. Brett Favre and I have the same birthday, too… only he’s 7 years older. Anyway, that’s my claim to fame… being in the October 10 Birthday Club with them… we get together every year on our birthday and split the time in 3rds, talking about Nascar, NFL, and birthday cakes. I could be wrong on some of these details. But even though Dale Jr and I have the same birthday, we decided on Lightning McQueen because Missy was going to get party decor to go with whatever the cake is and there’s anything and everything you could ever want for a Lightning McQueen party.




I didn’t take progress pictures of making this cake because it’s made pretty much the same as the Lightning McQueen I made a couple years ago (I’ll post a link at the end of this post).

I did do something different with this one for the spoiler because the spoiler of the other one had issues and had to be propped up with toothpicks… and toothpicks propping stuff up sort of takes away from the coolness of a 3-D cake. With this one, I cut a slit in the cake and put a graham cracker in it, then covered the whole works with fondant. Here it is before it’s covered with fondant…
I think the graham cracker eventually took on the moisture from the cake and broke because at first, it was solidly in place, but after a couple hours, I could easily wiggle it. It didn’t matter though because by that time, the fondant had dried enough to hold it firmly at the proper angle.

In case you wonder what something is or how it’s done, I’ll just make a list here, hopefully answering some questions before you need to ask them. ????


Cake board – flat cardboard box, covered with wrapping paper and a strip of tin foil for the cake to go on.
Flags – wooden skewer with white fondant square, I took a paintbrush and painted little black squares on it (my ‘paint’ was food coloring paste)
Birthday wish – piped on with red frosting, the moisture from the frosting soaked into the wrapping paper a bit… it worked fine, but you wouldn’t want to do it too far in advance because it gets worse and worse and looks like dark shadowing around the writing.
Base under racetrack – 2 white sheet cakes with a layer of melted-chocolate-chips-mixed-with-peanut-butter between… because just plain ol’ white cake is booooooooooooooooooring (that’s a fact, but you can consider it an opinion if you prefer to ???? ). The cakes are covered with a layer of white frosting. Here is a cut view…
Checkered squares around base – I love this look, but I’d do it different next time. How I did it was very time-consuming. I cut a bunch of little fondant squares, then fit them all in on all 4 sides of the cake. Next time, I’d put a black strip the entire way around the cake and then cut little white squares and put them on, spaced appropriately to get the checkered look. Or I’d put a white strip all the way around and paint black squares on like I did the flags.
Race track – black fondant with piped frosting accents, graham cracker crumbs for dirt in the middle
Car – chocolate cake carved into a car shape and covered in frosting, then in fondant. I was afraid the weight of the car would make it sink down into the frosting of the base, so I cut a piece of cardboard roughly the footprint of the car, covered it in tin foil, put the car on it, and then set it on top of the base where I had spaced and poked 5 skewers down thro’ and cut them off about even with the top of the cake.
Details on car – it’s all fondant with frosting accents except the Rusteze logo and the eyes. The brown circle on the logo is… ahhhhhh… FUDGE! and the writing is peanut butter. The eyes are painted on with a paintbrush and blue and black food coloring paste.
And you’ve gotta notice the candles! I was so tickled to find them! They fit in SO perfectly!!! :)

Now… I KNOW you’re itching to make your own Lightning McQueen birthday cake for that sweet little guy in your life ???? , so here is the post with step by step directions with progress pictures: Lightning McQueen step-by-step

And for those of you who are thinking “Oh, I could never do that!”, this post is for you: Pictures of Lightning McQueen cakes that readers have made and emailed to me. So proud of them for taking on the challenge! And a couple of them said, “It was easier than I thought it would be.” ????

Have fun being 5, Regan!


29 Responses to “Lightning McQueen Cake… Happy Birthday, Regan!”

  1. Shannon on April 25th, 2011 7:26 am

    Another beautiful job Kay! I can only imagine how it felt to make this and think about Debra! Cheers to you for doing this for him!

  2. joe on April 25th, 2011 7:41 am

    Kay….words fail me…I wish I cud interpret my tears…

  3. Katie Mast on April 25th, 2011 8:57 am

    Thank you, Thank you for so lovingly making a cake for this sweet guy. I cried reading it. So glad you could make this birthday boy cheerful inspite of him not having his mommy there. We all miss her, but thanks for doing your part. It is very well done. Wish i was closer to help out as well.

  4. amber on April 25th, 2011 9:08 am

    absolutely AMAZING, lady!! you rock!

  5. esther on April 25th, 2011 10:02 am

    Such a kind thing to do Kay, for a 5 yr old who cannot control the circumstances of his life. At one time, our family was at the mercy of friends and family for this kind of thing. My brother had his 8th birthday 2 days after mom’s funeral. He had a cake, I don’t remember who made it. But someone took the time and cared.

  6. Mom on April 25th, 2011 11:15 am

    Ditto sentiments that were already expressed above. Proud to be “mom” to a talented, but even more so, a caring, big-hearted lady.

  7. Mom on April 25th, 2011 11:30 am

    Oh, and I forgot to mention the famous part, too, besides being talented and caring – the October 10 birthday club!

  8. lisa on April 25th, 2011 2:49 pm

    this post made me get teary…jase’s next birthday is his 5th and to think of him celebrating it without me…wow. i am really crying. your kind, gentle heart has always inspired me, so that you would do this does not surprise me. but it makes me even more proud to call you a friend.

    i hope regan always holds some cherished memories of this birthday party in his heart! i wish hope and healing for him and his family!

    p.s. just LOVED your mom’s comments!

  9. Renita on April 25th, 2011 3:23 pm

    Why am I always amazed at your bday cakes? They always get better! No joke! God bless you for helping a hurting family. The birthday club-my brother’s bday is Oct. 10th but he’s a few yrs older. :) And NOT famous. :)

  10. Liz on April 25th, 2011 4:15 pm

    Way to go Kay! That is so awesome that could do this for Joe, Regan, and the rest of the family.
    And way to share a birthdy with some popular people. I just didn’t know I had such a famous SIL! :)

  11. Jana on April 25th, 2011 6:40 pm

    Wow, cool cake! Looks like you had way too much fun! :)

  12. Rita on April 25th, 2011 7:09 pm

    Kay…..thank-you, thank-you, thank-you!!! I’m Deb’s sister and am so thankful that Joe and the kids are surrounded by such loving and supportive friends. You did such an awesome job on that cake. My son was in awe! So thanks again for taking the time to be Jesus’ hands in this way.
    ~RIta Miller

  13. Ruthie on April 26th, 2011 6:07 am

    What a touching post…and amazing cake! Now I know I can’t take any credit for your talents and big heartedness(I have to leave that to your Mom)but, don’t you think I should have a little credit for teaching my son how to choose a wife? =)
    I quickly serched to see if I’m in any famous birthday club, but all I could find was Henery VIII’s first wife. She was a bit older than me, so we never did get together.

  14. Cindy on April 26th, 2011 6:10 am

    wow. you are so amazing! you have a way of making it sound like anyone could do this…but i ain’t fallin for that. :) that is one cool cake.

    i can see all of the love in it for a little boy having a birthday without his mom…i am so sorry for their loss…and yours.

  15. Marylou on April 26th, 2011 7:38 am

    The cake is amazing and I’m sure he loved it. I have a friend whose 6-year-old absolutely LOVES Lightning McQueen. He would go bonkers over this cake!

  16. Rachel H. on April 26th, 2011 7:48 am

    Kay, this is just precious of you. Beautiful cake and beautiful words.

  17. Judi on April 26th, 2011 11:51 am

    You make the most amazing cakes!! And yes, Ryan’s loss put a tear in my eye too. *hugs* for Ryan

  18. Judi on April 26th, 2011 11:52 am

    make that Regan :)

  19. Kay on April 26th, 2011 3:44 pm

    JOE (INSERT MIDDLE NAME HERE)!!!!!!!! ;), go away!!!! That’ll be enough out of you! I’m just glad YOU’re not in our little birthday club or we’d be doing good to get 5% of the talking time!

  20. Kay on April 26th, 2011 2:25 pm

    Ok, you guys! I feel like I need to step in and add my own comment.
    I love your comments, and wow, it melts my heart to see that the sadness of a 5-yr-old celebrating without a mom makes you cry too, even those of you who don’t know the family.

    I just want to clarify something… some of the comments have a “helping them” twist to them, as though this was a sacrifice or noble thing on my part. I’m not sure how to explain what I’m trying to say, but it’s bumped up a level. It was simply a casual conversation with Joe about Regan’s birthday… “What about the cake?” “Not sure yet.” “Can I make it?”(thinking yay!! a boy cake!) “Do you want to?” “Yeah! I LOVE making cakes!” and that’s as far as my thoughts went.

    Once I got to making the cake then, it hit me what I was actually doing and I felt very honored to be making this cake, so it was more a thing of me being in awe that I actually got the honors to do it!!!! So, yeah, please skip the lofty comments… they make me uncomfortable. Plus, it was 100% FUN FUN FUN to make this cake!!! :) The condolences and feeling the pain right along with us are very appreciated, though! And I’m glad to hear that the cake passes inspection. :) And of course I’m very comfortable talking about my birthday buddies, Brett and Dale Jr!

  21. joe on April 26th, 2011 3:36 pm

    And just to clarify the muddy water some more…..I did talk to “junebug” this afternoon and he confirmed what most of us thot all along….I merely mentioned that “kay” seemed fine with splitting the conversation pie in thirds, and he abrubtly rolled his eyes and said and I quote “that girl can talk better then she bakes cake!”

  22. verna on April 26th, 2011 8:19 pm

    Kay, just so you know I have had occassion to insert middle name , too… Did figure out that JOSEPH in a very loud high pitched voice works , pretty well..for future reference.
    Bless, you for making Regan’s day and as a result his dad’s too.

  23. Shikha on June 24th, 2011 4:12 pm

    Wow .. I am so happy I found you .. From a very long time I was searching to how to make this cake. I have a birthday cake to bake for my nephew next week, he is turning 5 and love this mcqeen car.. When my brother asked me if I could bake one for him I said yes but was so tensed how will I do it..
    Thank you so much for sharing this, Love your website and now I am a big fan of you.. you are an inspiration… with kids around you handle it so well :)

  24. Kay on June 24th, 2011 5:02 pm

    Shikha, thanks for the comment. Same to you about being an inspiration… I was just on your website from your link here… I’ve GOTTA try that rose-shaped cake, it’s beautiful!! I saw your other amazing cakes and alot of other creativity going on over there and I know you’ll ROCK Lightning McQueen! I’d love to see a picture when you’re done! :)

  25. Shikha on June 24th, 2011 6:14 pm

    Thank you Kay, thats so sweet of you to say.. :) I shall try my best to get it as wonderful as yours.. I Was just showing this to my hubby and he was like so cool .. :) I will surely send you the pic once I finish the cake.. :) takecare

  26. Shikha on June 29th, 2011 11:24 pm

    Hi Kay,
    need some info, I just finished my cake, I was wondering can we place it in fridge, I am afraid for the fondant car.. The base is butter cream but the car is fondant.. What did you do ? Please advise thank you :)

  27. Kay on June 29th, 2011 11:41 pm

    Great! You did it! Can’t wait to see it! :)
    Almost all of my cakes do not go in the fridge because *ahem* till I finish them, it’s usually only hours till party time (that’s not on purpose, that’s just how I roll and I know it’s crazy because what if something would go wrong?! This particular cake was finished about 8 hours before the party. The closest one was the school bus cake with 45 min till party time! Anyway, why am I saying all this?!) Is the party tomorrow? Just let it sit out on the counter. If the party is later this weekend, go ahead and put it in the fridge.
    The puppy cake I featured recently, I did 4 days before the party and I had it in the fridge and then got it out a few hours before the party and set it on a table in an air conditioned room. Allegedly, if you get a fondant cake out of the fridge and set it out when there’s alot of humidity in the air, it’ll sweat. I’ve never tried it.
    Whatever you do, don’t put it in the freezer. ???? I did that with a winter wraps cake and the fondant got wet and shiny and the colors started running as it thawed!

  28. Shikha on July 6th, 2011 2:26 pm

    Thank you kay for the lovely info, I have just emailed you my cake pics, :) I had so much fun making it. I love your cakes its amazing.. thank you again for the help..
    takecare :)