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So last weekend we had (another!) family birthday, this time, my nephew L’s 4th birthday. It seems I have spent a bit of time lately baking cakes for family (see Dad’s chocolate raspberry layer cake and H’s butterfly cake) but I was still very excited to make L’s cake.

I think the absolutely key feature of a fire engine cake is that the frosting is red enough. After doing some internet based research I saw that it can take quite a bit of colouring to get to fire engine red, and while there is nothing wrong with a pink cake for a little boy, a pink fire engine doesn’t seem right. I headed to Cake Deco in Port Philip arcade in the city and purchased some Wilton’s ‘Red red’ gel food colouring. To be honest, the stuff looked a little freaky (almost blood like) but it certainly did the job. I ended up making way too much icing (I have rectified this in the recipe below) and as a result, used the entire jar of food colouring, supplemented by some more red food colouring that I had in the cupboard. After all of this, the frosting still didn’t look really red, but overnight the colour developed and in the end I was very pleased with the result.


Saskia came over on the Friday night to help me decorate the cake, which took a couple of hours. A tip for others, perhaps decorate first, then wines and gossiping later. I’m not sure how much that bottle of red assisted the decorating process!


We didn’t use a template for the cake – Saskia (with her wonderful spacial awareness!) cut into the three cakes I had made and rearranged them to form the truck. The recipe below includes some diagrams to follow to create a similar cake.

L really loved his cake and as a bonus, didn’t need a prompt as to what it was supposed to be. Here is a picture of the birthday boy sneaking some lollies for himself..


Happy birthday L!

Fire engine cake

Butter cake

Note: this is for one quantity – you will need three quantities for the cake. Bake two square cakes and one loaf cake.

125g butter
½ tsp vanilla
½ cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups self-raising flour
½ cup milk

  • Pre-heat oven to 190 C.
  • Beat butter with vanilla until light and creamy.
  • Add sugar, beat until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  • Stir in half the flour and half the milk. Stir until combined.
  • Add remaining milk and flour.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes.
  • Allow to cool completely.

To make the firetruck:

1. Cut the loaf cake in half (pieces A & B), then trim the square cakes into rectangles (D & F), where the shortest side is the same width as piece A and B:

2. Rearrange the pieces and trim C & E to the width of D & F:

3. Stack A & B, D & F and E & C on top of each other. Trim the excess from E & C to build some extra height on top of A & B and form lights for the top of the truck:

From the side, it should look like this:


Vienna cream

Note: this is for one quantity – you will need two quantities for the cake

125g butter
1 ½ cups icing sugar
2 tbs milk
Strong red food colouring (and a fair bit of it)

  • Have butter and milk at room temperature.
  • Place butter into a mixer and beat until it is as white as possible.
  • Gradually add about half the sifted icing sugar, beating constantly, add milk gradually, then the remainder of the sifted icing sugar.
  • Mixture should be smooth and easy to spread with a spatula.
  • Set aside about 1/5 of the icing – this will be used for the windscreen.
  • Add the red colouring incrementally to the remainder of the icing until you reach the desired shade. As noted above, it took a lot of colouring to make the cake red enough!

To decorate

4 round chocolate biscuits for the wheels
4 mint lifesavers for the hubs
4 chocolate covered liquorice logs (2 to make the ladder and 2 for the bumper bars)
Chocolate bullets (rungs for the ladder)
Pretzels for the windscreen
Mixed lollies for lights
Liquorice straps for mudgards
Liquorice allsorts and smarties for other decorations

  • Spread the red frosting over all of the cake, except for the windscreen area. Use a flat knife to smooth the frosting out.
  • Spread some of the white frosting over the front of the cake to make a windscreen.
  • Use pretzels to define the windscreen.
  • Cover some cut off pieces of cake with white frosting and cover with lollies to make lights for the top of the cake.
  • Use a liquorice log for the bumper bar and decorate with mixed lollies and liquorice.


  • Unwind the liquorice strap. Lay two pieces across the body of the truck.
  • Stick the lifesavers to the biscuits with frosting to make wheels and attach to the truck.
  • Cut pieces of liquorice straps to form mud guards.
  • Make a control panel from smarties and lengths of liquorice.


  • Make a ladder from the liquorice log and bullets.
  • Decorate with liquorice allsorts and smarties.





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2 Responses to “Kid friendly cooking: fire engine cake”

  1. That is so imaginative. Your cake looks too good to eat.

  2. I don’t mind having this as my birthday cake please! Gorgeous. Very creative.

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