3D Lightning McQueen Cars Cake Tutorial

lightning mcqueen cars cake

To make this Lightning McQueen Cars Cake you will need:

cake pans 11″ x 15″ (I had two so I could bake two sheet tins at a time)
chocolate cake x 3

Template for cutting the cake and fondant pieces

2 x my  chocolate buttercream recipe
3 x   ganache recipe cooled in the fridge

750g (26.46 ounces) Black fondant I used Bakels Black Pettinice
1 kg (2.2 pounds) Red (will be just enough if you are new to decorating you may want to get a bit extra) I used Satin Ice RED
150g (5.29 ounces) White for eyes and windscreen (get 500g (17.64 ounces) and split it up leave some white & colour some yellow/grey/brown)
250g (8.82 ounces) Yellow for side logo
50g (1.76 ounces) Grey for windows (mix a small amount of black fondant with some white)
50g (1.76 ounces) Brown for rusteze symbol

Powdered food colour in red, orange and yellow
silver luster dust
metal piping tip for cutting out eyes – you can use something else round in a similar size
Drinking straws for cutting circles.
circle cutter
thick card to cut for cake board
Platter or cake board to put cake on (see cutting templates for indication of cake size)
Oreos or other flat cream filled circle shaped biscuits x 8

Step 1. Do ahead of time for you lightning mcqueen cars cake Allow approximately 6 hours to make these well, I like to make extras of things so I can choose the best one.

Print and cut out cake cutting templates

Cut cake board out of thick card and cover with alfoil or tape to waterproof

Make the fondant details for the car that can be made ahead, see video for instructions:

silver dots x 4
eyes x 2, I made four so that I could choose the best two
rusteze symbol for bonnet x 1
’95′ x 3 (for each side of the cake and the top)
brake lights
Back of the car with details
Side windows
Back windows

disney cars cake tutorial


Step 2: Making the Cake & Frosting
Bake your chocolate cake x 3 this will make six sheet cakes of which you need five.  In the trays this cake takes 15 minutes to bake (swap top tray to bottom and bottom to top half way through cooking).  My cake tray is 26cm (10.24 inches) x 39cm (15.35 inches)
Make you frosting: double quantity of my chocolate buttercream
and triple quantity of  ganache. Cool the ganache in the fridge until firm and then whip into the buttercream.   I had plenty left over to use with the cake scraps to make cake pops, or you can put the excess in a ziploc bag and freeze it.

Step 3: Assembling Carving your lightning mcqueen car cake
Watch the video to see this demonstrated.
Set up your cake board to sit 1cm (0.39 inches) above the platter in the middle and 1 1/2cm (0.79 inches) at the front 3cm (1.18 inches) at the back
Using your car template cut out 4 of the layers and assemble with ganache between on top of the cake board. Cut your 5th sheet cake in half and stack on top in the centre. Use your side of car template to check that the cake is high enough in all places and then carve using the side template as your guide.

Place the top of car template 1 on top lined up with the base of the windscreen and cut around to the level of the front bonnet. then put the smaller roof template in place and trim across to meet the outline that you just made.
Trim down the centre of the bonnet and the centre of the back of the car.
Cut out the wheels holes deep enough until you reach the cake board.

Cover the whole cake in frosting smoothing as best as you can and the refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Step 4. Decorating your car cake

Make your wheels using fondant and oreos, see video for instructions.

Take the cake out of the fridge and use paper towel to smooth. Put the white in place for the teeth, cover with some non-stick baking paper in the shape of the smile. Cover in red fondant, cut out the smile and then add your pre-made details.
Make and add front windscreen and the side lightning flashes. Clean the cake board and lastly add your wheels.

Step 5. Photo Time
Smile, you did it! Take a photo and upload in the comments section below. Photo Tips: It is hard to get a good photo of the cake at the party so take a photo with the birthday boy or girl before any of the guests arrive.  Pay attention to what is in the background of your picture.


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About Ann

Hi I'm Ann, food scientist, dietitian, wife, mum to 3 boys. Join me each week for desserts, chocolate and cakes.
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385 Responses to 3D Lightning McQueen Cars Cake Tutorial

  1. Alicia ford says:

    I think I have your tutorial memorized now and the sound of your voice. I made this cake for a client and my cake board wasn’t strong enough and my cake was too soft and moist, after carving and covering in fondant it was not keeping it’s shape. I rebaked and reshaped and made my board twice as thick and that helped. I was using a vanilla strawberry cake recipe and realized my chocolate recipe (or yours too) probably would have been a better carving choice because my vanilla seems to not be as strong as my chocolate for some reason. Thank you for the wonderful tutorial and guidance. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel and try to think of one all by myself. It’s been 5 years since I last shaped lightning and I was so much happier with this one! Thank you!

  2. Irina says:

    Thanks a lot!!! It’s the best tutorial I’ve ever seen:)
    Here is my mcqueen:)

  3. Aida says:

    My first time making this car cake. Your tutorial was very easy. Thank you!

  4. Sharon says:

    Hi Ann, finally completed my first 3d cake. Thank you so much for your tutorial! It was really easy to follow. :)

  5. Pauline says:

    Hey Ann,

    I used your tutorial to make the birthday cake for my boyfriend of his car. It was my first attempt at making a fondant cake and he loved it! Thank you very much for sharing your tutorial.

  6. Robeena says:

    Hi Ann, I made this cake for my friend’s son. I loved your tutorial. Thank you very much. There are some colour differences in my cake.

  7. Pingback: Bolo Relâmpago McQueen 3D - Loucas Por Bolos

  8. Ellie says:

    Hi! I would have never attempted this cake without your tutorial! I made it a bit smaller and placed it on top of a round base cake. Thank you so much :)

  9. Sue says:

    I have made the numbers ok but when I dusted the powder colours onto chocolate brown fondant for the Rusteze name the colours have now disappeared into the fondant that I have done. Help and advice please or suggestions.

  10. Christina Kapola says:

    I used your tutorial except from the moth and the wheels. I hope yoy like it!

  11. Kirstie Ashdown-Plimmer says:

    Hi Ann, LOVE this cake and am really looking foward to making it for my wee man next month. I purchased the templates today but when I went to print them out the lightening bolts for the sides are not in colour as your tutorial shows. The other logos etc are all in colour but I am disappointed to find the lightening bolts were not. I want to print them out onto rice paper so need them in color. Do you by any chance have the coloured templates you could please please email me. Thanks so much for your time and your fab videos. Really easy for us novices to attempt.

  12. Nadine says:

    Well I really tried. This was my first 3D cake.

    I didn’t use your chocolate cake recipe, and instead used one that I normally make. It is a very moist cake so it was harder to get it to the shape I wanted (mental note for next time). The extra pieces of cake that I cut off and the frosting came in handy :p

    I made the numbers, headlights, logo and so on days ahead and the wheels as well so it made the assembly go reasonably smooth.

    In person he looks like half McQueen, half Tow mater:p

    But in the end all that mattered was if my nephew liked it. He was so excited when I drove up to his house because he knew I was making it (I had to talk him down from previously wanting a cake with a fair AND mickey mouse on it…I still have no idea where he got that idea from). He was so happy when he saw it, that any of the flaws didn’t matter to him.

    I love your website and youtube page. I look forward to what you will post on Friday!!

  13. Rora says:

    Hi Ann – Is it possible to make this cake one month in advance? What is the best way to store it? In an airtight container in the freezer? If so, how long would it need to defrost for before serving? Or could it be stored in the fridge without drying out? thanks

  14. Donna says:

    Hi, I am making this for my son’s birthday but can’t find an 11″x15″ cake tin. Can I use smaller ones with the recipe and how deep does it need to be, will a Swiss roll tin do the job?
    Also, I have made some of the bits to go on it but when I did the rusteze sign, the powdered colour has faded and seems to have soaked into the brown icing. Is this because I used ready to roll icing instead of flower paste? Do I need to let it dry our first?

  15. Donna says:

    I am making this cake for my son’s birthday but I can’t find 11 x1 5″ cake tins anywhere. Can I do it with any other sizes? And does it need to be deep or will a Swiss roll type tin do? Also, when I put the powdered colour on the brown sugarpaste it ends up faxing and I can hardly see it, do I need to wait until it had dried before applying?

  16. Ashwini says:

    Hi ann,
    I am planning to make this cake for my little guy’s birthday next month. How many serving does 11″-15″ inch pans serve? And if I buy the templets can I resize it according to my serving capacity? As in can I make a bigger or smaller cake?

    Please help thanks

    • Ann Ann says:

      yes you can resize it to make the cake bigger or smaller using a different printing setting

      • ashwini says:

        hi ann, Thanks a ton for the wonderful idea n printable instructions it was easy to follow and i came up with this. Its not exactly the reddish red coz i made the fondant at home but its okay since it was my sons party. Everybody loved it my son loved it what more can i ask.

  17. Peta Dallas says:

    Had to make this for a little man who turned 3
    Your tutorial was fantastic lots of pause and rewind lol
    Thank you

  18. connie thompkins says:

    Hi Ann,
    Just purchased templates for lightning mcqueen and thomas the train, did not get a link to download and have paid, previous post states download are automatic. I’ve checked my emails several times and nothings there.
    Please advise.

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