I did this recently--it's hard for me to believe, but my youngest baby just turned four. Four!!! He's not such a little boy anymore! Superheroes are big around here, as you've probably guessed, and so Kal wanted a Batman birthday party this year. We bought Batman favors and played Batman games, and I also made a Batman cake.
Until my kids were born, I wasn't very creative with cakes. I made the occasional layer cake, but mostly I just baked cakes in a 9x13 pan, left them in there, and slathered a thick layer of frosting on the top. However, when Zax turned one, that just didn't seem like enough. I wanted to make a special cake that reflected his birthday celebration--and I never looked back. As the years have gone by, my cakes have gotten increasingly intricate and detailed. It's a masochistic hobby, or so I tend to call it, because I'm usually up until 3:00am the night before the party making it. Egg-free cakes fall apart so easily that they require a lot of special handling. But I enjoy doing it. It's time that I spend listening to showtunes and making special memories for my kids, and it's totally worth it to see their faces light up when they see their special cakes.
This was Kal's Batmobile cake for his 4th birthday party
After posting this picture on Instagram, I had several people ask me to do a tutorial on decorating cakes, and so that's what I'm doing today! I'm walking you through how to make a Batmobile cake, but the principles can be applied to any shapes you wish--within reason. It's only cake, after all! Please bear in mind that I have had no official training, just online instructions, youtube videos, and a lot of creative sculpting--but I have learned some pretty good tricks!
How to make a Batmobile Birthday Cake
First, of course, you have to bake your cake(s). And you'll want to make sure they stay together until you're ready to cut them, so line your baking pans with parchment paper that you've cut to the right shape and size--this will enable you to get them out of the pan without sticking or, hopefully, breaking. If you're doing this egg-free (or anything-free) it will probably behave differently than a normal cake, but do your best. Preferably, you want a cake that can hold it's form. Wacky cakes are good for sculpting (and yield decent results, even with gluten free flour) because they come out very dense and moist, which helps them hold together--but use whatever cake you're most comfortable with.
Allow your cake to cool completely and then wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer. Repeat until you have all the cake you'll need. (If you don't let it cool first, you'll end up with a moist, gummy layer sticking to the plastic wrap--trust me, I've made this mistake.)
You'll also need frosting. Depending on the type, you can make this in advance, but you will want it to be easy to spread when it's decorating time, so if it's the type that hardens up in the fridge like my Cream Cheese Frosting, you either need to make it fresh or allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour or two before decorating. If it's the sort that hardens up even at room temperature like my Chocolate Buttercream Frosting, it's preferable to make it fresh, but you can heat it up in the microwave if you want to make and store it beforehand.
You'll need a surface for your cake to sit on as well. I've used large platters, but eventually I took several layers of large, hardy cardboard and taped it all together. I completely coated it in packing tape (so the moisture wouldn't seep through into the cardboard) and I use this as my cake plate most of the time now. I wrap it in foil before every cake because it provides a nicer-looking surface.
Once your cake is frozen and your kids are out of the way, it's time to begin!
If your cake is starting to get soft, pop it back into the freezer. ANY time your cake gets soft or starts to crumble (or the frosting starts to smear) you need to pop it back into the freezer for several minutes. Refreeze any useable cake scraps too, if you aren't finished sculpting. You need a large freezer to do this with anything big. I usually have to rearrange our deep freeze before getting started so there's enough flat space for me to place my cake tray into.
For the batmobile, I used my Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. It doesn't have to be real butter, this recipe works well with Earth Balance--but I used real butter this time since nobody in attendance had a dairy allergy. Note that the crumb coat doesn't even need to be the same color frosting as your final coat will be--however it's good to have similar shades so nothing bleeds through.
Even though you should expect crumbs, beware. As soon as you start to get larger crumbs or big pieces try to break off, it's time to put the cake back in the freezer for several minutes. With all the details (and tiny crevices) at the back of this batmobile, I think it took me three tries to get the crumb coat finished. Once you're finished with the crumb coat, put the cake back in the freezer.
Any time I'm waiting for my cake to refreeze, I make more frosting or do dishes--anything that I'd have to do anyway that can occupy me while waiting for the cake.
Cream Cheese Frosting and separated it into two bowls to mix up gray and yellow frosting (the gray came out blacker than I'd intended, too much food coloring). I used the gray to outline and fill in the windshield and also to outline the engine exhaust thingies on the hood. Then I carefully drew the bat from the Bat Symbol on the center of the hood. This wasn't on our toy, but I wanted to have it somewhere and it wasn't going to work on the doors.
Remember that any time your frosting starts to smear, put it back--you guessed it--in the freezer. The chocolate frosting gets harder so I didn't have to do this much this time around, but on cakes that I've frosted exclusively with Cream Cheese Frosting, I've had to freeze them several times to keep a firm work surface.
I used yellow to pipe headlights and to make an oval around the Bat Symbol. Finally, I used more gray to outline and complete the Bat Symbol.
Lastly, I used gray frosting to attach Oreo cookies for wheels, and used more gray to make hubcaps. I used leftover frosting to write a Happy Birthday message on the tray in front of the car. Once you're finished, your cake should wait for your party in the freezer or at least the fridge, to prevent sagging or bleeding of colors before the party. I take it out at the beginning of the party so people can see it and so it can thaw.
Linking up at Allergy Free Wednesdays, Gluten Free Fridays, and Corn-free Everyday
What sort of allergy-friendly birthday cakes have you made? Please share! And if you're worried about your allergic child at birthday parties, note that Allergy Superheroes is now open! We've got super Superhero products to help remind the party host and other adults that your child has dietary restrictions while keeping it cool! www.allergysuperheroes.com