Ever since the adorable Cars 2 Cakelet Pans hit Williams-Sonoma stores, we’ve been inundated with questions about how to make them come to life. On behalf of enthusiastic customers, I called food stylist Cathie Lopez, the artist behind the picture-perfect cakes in our catalog and website, for the details.
“The Cars 2 cakelets were super fun to decorate!” Lopez exclaims, and although cake decorating requires detailed work, her method ensures an easy, enjoyable project. “If you’re baking one pan, you could probably decorate them in 3 to 4 hours, and that’s if you’re taking your time,” she says – which includes 1 1/2 hours of drying time for the base coat.
1. Make a basic royal icing (recipe below) to cover the cooled cakes. In different bowls, mix food gels and pastes into the white icing to create a few vibrant colors. Place the baked cakes on a wire rack over a baking sheet.
2. Put the icing in a pastry bag with a large (#3) tip to apply the base color: starting at the top, pipe icing onto the cakelet, allowing it to drip down and cover the sides, which will create a solid foundation. Let the base coat dry for 1 1/2 hours before beginning the next step. If you are using multiple colors, try disposable pastry bags, using one for each color. This will make cleanup easier too.
“Once it dries, it hardens, so you can pick up and handle the cake while you’re decorating,” Lopez explains. “Since you have a bright color down as the base, you can either just add a few details or go totally over the top.”
3. For the details, simply add more confectioners’ sugar to the royal icing to make it thicker so it will hold its shape. Attach a #2 tip and refill the pastry bag. Pipe details such as fenders, windows, hoods, numbers and other decorations. The piping will stick to the base coat. If you make a mistake, carefully wipe it off with a paper napkin (start with a dry one, then if some icing remains try using a slightly damp napkin).
4. After piping, let icing dry for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The cakelets can be lightly covered with plastic and will stay fresh for 3 to 4 days. Store in a cool place.
The Cars 2 pans are made for family fun, so here are Lopez’s tips for involving kids in the project:
- Use fondant. I used fondant for the wheels. Kids can roll it out and use a circle cutter to make shapes to decorate the cars.
- Use candy. You can use candies such as Necco Wafers and sticks of gum. Make round circles with the opposite end of the pastry tip – you don’t have to have a special cutter. For the eyes, you can use candy pearls. Stick them in place with icing.
- Have everything ready. If kids will be decorating the cars, it’s easiest to have the base coat of icing already on and dried, and multiple colors of icing for piping prepared and in pastry bags, ready to go.
Lopez’s favorite car? “The little VW mint green hippie bus,” she laughs. “That was really fun to do!”
Basic Royal Icing
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
6 Tbs. warm water, or as needed
3 Tbs. meringue powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a large bowl using a handheld mixer, mix together all of the ingredients until smooth and thick, yet pourable. If necessary, add more warm water, 1 Tbs. at a time, to achieve the correct consistency. Makes enough icing for 1 pan of cakelets.
Store icing in bowls or jars with a piece of plastic touching and covering the entire surface of the icing to prevent it from forming a crust. The icing will keep for 3 to 4 days.