So, this was my inspiration:
Having relatively little experience with cake decorating (no, really), I was particularly won over by the words (on Pinterest) saying, 'EASIEST CAKE EVER!'
Yet, this is not what I ended up with. *Sigh* I don't seem to be capable of choosing the easier option. Story of my life. "Oh, but we're not really fussed on chocolate cake...shall we make a vanilla sponge? But then it would look weird to just break into a vanilla sponge, so it should be iced, really...ooh, if we add another tier to the cake, we could have a road spiraling up...but that might be weird so maybe just a road around the bottom...or if we have a third tier then there would be more space to put his name and age...but just black and white might look a bit stark - ooh we could have grass going around each tier!"
I don't know why I do this to myself.
So, I started by making a few simple sponge cakes - two for the bottom layer, two for the middle and two for the top, using passionfruit curd between each layer (so scrummy!). Knowing I had no experience with roll-out icing (other than little O's 1st birthday cake, which I kept very simple and yet it still stressed me out), I thought I'd go for angled layers, so that it has an intentionally wonky look to it, thus relieving the pressure of it needing to be perfect.
Before attempting the roll-out icing, I started by watching a couple of YouTube videos. ALL LIES. How do they make it fall and shrink to the sides so perfectly?! Mine did not do that: I had to sort of squash it and chop it and stick it back together. Anyway, once it was iced (I used a chopping board instead of a cake board: reusable, and this one had a handle - handy!), this is what it looked like:
For the road, I mixed a load of black food colouring into some roll-out icing, then rolled it into a big long snake, which I positioned around the cake. I have no idea what a pro would have done, but this worked for me.
I used a glass to roll out the road (the handle on my mini rolling pin would have meant it would have dented/scraped the cake).
Not perfect, but I was happy enough.
Next, I rolled out some white icing into a thin snake and chopped bits off, sticking them to the road. I rolled them flat using the glass.
I wanted to have my son's name on the cake, along with his age. I don't have any number cutters (this surprised me), but thankfully I wasn't needing to spell 'seventy eight', so I went with the word 'two' instead of the digit.
Problem: I couldn't get the icing letters out of the cutters without them looking badly mangled. (How do the pros do it?!)
So, I decided to do things a little differently...
In the fabric world, this would be called reverse applique. Is there a name for it in the icing world?
Rather than dusting the board with icing sugar, which would dry out the icing, I rolled it out onto cling film/food wrap. If you have a silicone mat, that would work too. It also made it super easy to flip over onto a pallet knife...
I then dabbed a bit of water onto the back and stuck it onto the cake.
Knowing the cake would be carried from room to room (keeping it out of sight of the birthday boy), I stuck cocktail sticks into the cake and put the traffic cones on top. That way, the cones might wobble but they wouldn't just fall off.
Before cutting a chunk out of the cake, I played about with positioning the construction vehicles. I picked the most dented bit of the bottom layer to cut into, filling it with 'dirt' (crushed Oreos and plain digestives. I'm sure I've only ever used our marble pestle and mortar for crushing confectionery).
While I had been working on the icing, my mum had skillfully been cutting the strips of grass out of bright green cardstock. On the top and middle tiers, the grass was attached by taping the ends together. As there needed to be a gap on the bottom tier, I fixed the grass in place with a cocktail stick either side of the dirt. This was then hidden beneath a pile of dirt.
As things look better in 3s, I added another traffic cone and a pile of 3 'logs' (chocolate cigar wafer things) on the middle tier.
The final finishing touch were the candles in the crane (held in place by pushing them into a black ball of icing). That was my mum's idea (thanks, mum).
Whose black elbow is this and what are they doing in my photo?! How rude.
The birthday boy loved it. Although, being 2, I'm sure he would have been just as happy with something FAR MORE SIMPLE.