Ambulance Cake

I made this ambulance cake for a 7-year-old’s birthday party.  His parents volunteer with the local ambulance service.  This cake is based on an actual ambulance in the fleet.  I took some artistic license with the scale and some of the details.

To start, I made a base out of foam board.  A base made out of wood would have been sturdier, but for a throw-away base, the foam board works well enough.  I covered it with cake foil to make it food safe.  After all, who wants bits of plastic foam in their cake?  I used actual measurements from the ambulance and adjusted them a bit to make the cake wider and to evenly match up with the pans I have so there would be as little cake waste as possible.  I just eyeballed the wheel locations because I forgot to measure that.  I elevated the cake board by cutting some foam board pieces just smaller than the board.  They were taped together and wrapped in black posterboard to make it less visible.  The board has to be elevated to allow for the wheels to look like they are holding the ambulance up.  The problem with this setup is that it makes the cake a bit unstable.  It’s especially true for a top-heavy one like this.  Here is a picture of the board with the cab part before I carved it.

Before Carving

The biggest carving for this cake was the cab since the rest is just a box.  I pretty-much eyeballed it all.  After carving it, I coated it thinly with buttercream.  This crumb coat works as a way to smooth up the rough edges before the fondant goes on.  It also gives the fondant something to stick to.  It doesn’t stick so well to dry cake.  (Not that my cake is dry)

Carved Cab

To cover this, I did it in phases.  First I covered the cab in black fondant.  This takes care of the wheel wells and the windows.  Then I covered it with white fondant and cut out the windows exposing the black fondant beneath it.  I did all of this without the box part on the cake board.  The box part was four layers of cake.  I was worried about that many layers, so I put a piece of cake board in between the second and third layers supported on wodden dowels.  It did reduce the sagging, but it didn’t help as much with the shifting.  Or maybe it did and the shifting could have been worse.  Anyway, I covered the box in fondant after putting it on the cake board.  The black fondant in the wheel wells was added after the white fondant was on.

Fondant Covered

I left it this way overnight.  During the night, the cake settled and shifted a bit.  But only just a bit.  Decorating the cake was a mix of painting, food coloring markers, and squares of colored fondant.  To make the paint, I mixed some powdered food coloring with lemon extract.  The lemon extract is 83% alcohol.  As I paint, the alcohol evaporates leaving only the color behind.

To make the wheels, I make some thin Rice Krispy treats, cut them round, and covered them in black fondant.  Then I painted silver hubs.  They are held on with toothpicks.  The side-view mirrors are gum paste molded over tiny biscuit sticks.  I was going to use bamboo skewers, but I found these biscuit sticks in the japanese food section at Wegman’s.  They are thicker than bamboo skewers and tastier.  This allowed me to use one less non-edible item.  It bothers me whenever I have to put something non-edible in or on my cakes.

Here is a photo of the final cake.  I think most of the shifting may have been from all the moving around I did.  The foam board base has some give to it and it’s not like the foam board was 100% stable anyway.  It was sitting on that narrower riser.  I really must figure some way around that.

Ambulance Cake

I did a spin-around view of it that doesn’t looks so bad.  You really should view this so you can see the other side and the back:

http://www.tracyprobst.com/Cake/Ambulance

17 Comments so far

  1. Bernadette on December 20th, 2009

    ugh, shifting is the worst! I hate when that happens, and there isnt really any way around it. The cake looks great though, I loved how you carved the cab :).

  2. Tracy on December 21st, 2009

    Thanks, Bernadette. I feel a little better now.

  3. Nancy on February 4th, 2010

    I really like your cake, I am going to try and make one for my cousin’s graduation. Thanks for the great ideas!!

    Nanc

  4. Tracey Flemming on July 7th, 2010

    Thanks for the ideas, Tracy. My father is a paramedic and I’m hoping to make an ambulance cake for him this November. You helped a lot.

  5. Anne on August 27th, 2010

    Where can you get Fondant at?

  6. Tracy on August 27th, 2010

    Anne, I buy Satin Ice brand fondant from http://www.fondantsource.com.

  7. Alexandra on October 1st, 2010

    Hi Tracy! I’m so happy to find a *recent* post on an ambulance cake. I’m an ambitious baker and have not worked with fondant, but would like to try soon and eventually work my way up to this cake. Do you have any tips for someone starting out in terms of brands, supplies, techniques (if any–I do see your post on Satin Ice)? Is it better to get rolled fondant or dry? And, finally, approximately how much fondant did you use for this cake? Thank you very much in advance…I am inspired!

  8. Prettiestinpink on November 15th, 2010

    Amazing Cake!!! I’m gonna be doing an ambulance cake this week. I was wondering if you would tell me. What size pans did you use to bake the cake and how many cakes did you bake? I like the idea of minimal cake waste!

  9. Tracy on November 17th, 2010

    I honestly don’t remember what size pans or how many cakes I made. At the time, I just worked out the ratio based on the measurements and then decided what size pans to use. If I were to guess, I would guess that I used a 12×12 or 14×14 pan.

  10. Rosa on August 29th, 2012

    Congratulationice Looks so nice,And i know you should be proud.Can to e mail me on what not to do if i try to make this cake.

  11. Melissa Wilds on October 2nd, 2012

    Tracy,
    I was wondering if you happened to have a template for your star of life emblem & would you share it? I will be makaing this cake for a grooms cake next week.Thank you for your help.

  12. Tracy on October 3rd, 2012

    Melissa,
    I just kind of eyeballed it and hand painted the details like that. So, no templates, just a bunch of pictures of the real ambulance as a guide.

  13. Melissa on December 4th, 2012

    Thanks so much – I am an amatuer – so I am going to use or steps to try my hand at this one next week. :)

  14. Tina on January 16th, 2013

    Tracy, I love this cake especially the way you did the windows on the cab. I know this is an older post but I just wanted to offer some advice about the settling because I’ve definitely had it happen to me in the past. Once you torte, fill and carve your cake, wrap it tightly is saran wrap and let it sit overnight in the fridge or on the cabinet depending upon your filling. This will take care of all shifting and settling and then you can apply your fondant the next day with much better results. Also if you don’t have time to wait for it to settle overnight, place a cake board on top of the wrapped cake and lay a weight (book, ceramic tile or what have you) on top of the cake board for about 3 hours. This will also take care of the settling before the fondant is applied. Like I said I know this is an old post so you may have already worked this issue out but if not I hope this is helpful…

  15. Anna benadie on March 28th, 2017

    Hi were can I get a template for the ambulance please

  16. Tracy on April 1st, 2017

    Hi Anna, I don’t have any templates for this cake. I did, however, get to visit the garage at the local ambulance service where I took detailed pictures and measurements. From there, I drew out each side on a piece of paper. It took a few tries. When I made it to scale, it was far, far too narrow. So I took a bit of artistic license and made it wider than actual scale. Wider=more cake. :-)

    If you ask nicely, I’m sure your local ambulance service will let you visit an ambulance up close to take pictures and measurements.

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