How to Bake a Cake With a Minivan

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend turned 24 and I wanted to bake him a cake.

Oh, no, I didn't bake this gorgeous cake. His name's not even Bailey.

My boyfriend is the Nerd King of the Super-Nerds, and I wanted to commemorate his birthday by presenting him with an edible celebration of his nerdiness. Last year, I managed to cobble together cake, Oreo crumbs and green icing into a Minecraft cube cake, and I really wanted to top myself. 

That's when I made the mistake of going on Pinterest. 

This thing is made out of cake. Somebody actually ate this.

Also cake.

Getting a live, genetically engineered dragon would still be less impressive than this cake.

Screw you, laws of physics, I have a cake to make.

I spent two hours on Pinterest, scrolling through confections that made all my childhood birthday cakes look like loveless, cake-shaped turds. I'm not totally delusional; I know that if I attempted any of the cakes above, I'd end up with a bowl of trans fat, icing and sadness. I'd never even tried using fondant before, so I knew I would need to start with a relatively simple cake. 

So this cake was definitely out.

Eventually, I found the cute little Rubik's Cube cake at the beginning of the blog. It was perfect. It was simple, adorable, and I was at least 87% sure that I could saw cake into a square shape without disarticulating one or all of my fingers. Making this cake was going to be easy!

Pictured: me, baking.

The first obstacle I came up against was the fondant itself. Regular fondant, as most of you are well aware, tastes like sugary butthole, and I wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of covering a cake with it. Then I found a few people on Pinterest (of course) mentioning marshmallow fondant, a slightly better-tasting version of fondant made by kneading icing sugar into a bowl of melted marshmallows. Since this is the sort of recipe that measures icing sugar in kilograms, I knew right from the start that something was bound to go wrong.

This. This is what went wrong.

I was exactly two and a half minutes into the cake-making progress when I dumped sugar all over the floor like the small child that I am. In an ordinary house, spilled icing sugar is a problem that can be solved with a vacuum cleaner, but since I live with two very fast and very slobbery dogs, this little mishap turned into a wrestling match with a 90lb Newfoundland puppy who could not understand why I was preventing her from lapping up this miraculous energy source and leaving behind a sticky paste of dog drool and enthusiasm.

Eventually, my dishcloth and I won the battle to clean up the kitchen floor, and a beautiful ball of chocolate marshmallow fondant took shape.


Since my first ball of fondant came out looking like a slippery horse turd, I was inspired to continue on and create four more balls of coloured fondant that would make up the squares of the Rubik's cube. Those came out slightly better. And thankfully, none of the fondant tasted like sugar death. 

Slightly more genuine hooray!

Since fondant is the belligerent child prodigy of frosting, it required a minimum of an hour setting in the fridge before it could work its decorative magic. While that was happening, I figured it was time to deal with the main part of the equation - the cake itself. I had been dumb enough to buy a light, fluffy boxed cake mix for this adventure instead of pound cake, and I was clever enough to have my mother bake it the night before and stick it in the freezer for easy frosting. As I soon learned, however, no amount of cleverness can quite overcome a staggering lack of skill.


Despite my best efforts to be gentle, one of the four cakes I'd baked imploded into a mess of chocolate, crumbs and deep-seated shame when I tried to move it. Luckily, I only needed three cakes, so my baking assistant and I ate the reject cake with our hands like animals as we moved on to the rest of the process.

The next step was to flatten off the tops of the remaining cakes, shove the excess cake into our greasy little mouths, stack the flattened cakes, cut them into a cube, and slather them with sweet, sweet, buttery frosting. In the only bout of luck I would have throughout the entire cake-baking process, I made a gorgeous buttercream frosting. It was everything buttercream frosting should be - light, fluffy, rich, and filled with enough real butter to give a giraffe coronary problems. My remaining cakes were beginning to implode from the stress of thawing out while performing the cake equivalent of a human pyramid - a smarter person than me would have recognized this as a bad sign and returned the cakes to the freezer, but I bravely decided to forge ahead with frosting them, converting my beautiful white buttercream into a greyish paste of icing and cake crumbs.


Having a hideous layer of buttercream frosting on your cake is a lot like having an aggressive venereal disease; as long as you look good on the outside and don't smell weird, no one will even notice until you're inside them. With that healthy life philosophy in mind, I went back to my fondant. By this time, it had been removed from the fridge and returned to roughly room temperature. Just as the recipe promised, it was soft, sweet and pliable. Once I'd rolled it into thin sheets, cut it, and draped it over the cake, no one would ever have to know that the first few steps in this cake-making process had not been so smooth. 

Only problem is, it turns out rolling fondant is really fucking hard. 

Rolling this stuff will burn almost as many calories as you'll get from eating it.

Since I live in modern, urban, 21st century Canada, it is no longer necessary for my family to own a solid wooden rolling pin for fending off bears and coyotes when they come to eat the children. As you can see in the photo, we instead own a sleek black plastic rolling pin that mostly acts as an accessory in our all-black kitchen. Until this cake adventure, the most strenuous thing it had ever been used for was rolling out pizza crusts. As we soon discovered, this was a big problem - rolling this fondant required an incredible amount of force, and as soon as anyone leaned on the rolling pin with too much pressure, the handles would creak and make ominous 'I'm going to shatter and lodge tiny bits of black plastic in your eyeballs' noises. Clearly, the rolling pin was out.

Undeterred, we went through every kitchen implement in my home, frantically dragging it across or smacking it into the fondant in a futile attempt to flatten it. Most failed. Some failed spectacularly, tearing the fondant or embedding tiny pieces of torn wax paper in it. None were successful.

The meat tenderizer was a mistake.

That's when we decided to get creative. 

The baking crew at this point consisted of my best friend, Emily - who weighs roughly as much as a wet pair of socks-  myself, and my hulking, fridge-sized beast of a football playing brother, James. When we realized that even James, who can pick up a small car by himself, was not able to flatten this fondant, we knew it was out of mortal hands. We needed something bigger to shift this fondant.

And that something happened to be sitting right in our driveway. 

This. This is that something.

My parents drive a Honda Odyssey minivan, which was probably the heaviest car we were going to have access to without renting a U-Haul truck. Since my parents were out walking the dogs while this was going on, and were in no position to protect the van from any ill-conceived confectionery experiments, we got two pieces of plywood and went outside to set a new record for culinary stupidity.

We brought the mostly-flattened sheets inside, wondering how we were going to get them just the slightest bit thinner that they needed to be to fit on a cake. It was at this point in the evening that someone realized the answer was probably somewhere online. Sure enough, the brave, fondant-making folks of the Internet advised us to fold our fondant into the microwave, nuke it, and roll it out again. It did the trick, and we were finally ready. With all the care, precision, and plucky determination of young surgeons performing their first brain surgery, Emily and I draped the first sheet of fondant over the cake, flawlessly creating a professional-looking cake with crisp, sharp corners. 

Martha Stewart would be so proud.

I lied. Our fondant actually turned into lumpy, saggy, wrinkled slipcover with a big tear in the side that we hastily patched up with butter and a half-joking attempt to look for a stapler. Once that was in place, we set to cutting out little squares of fondant from the remaining colours, taking no care at all to actually plan or count out the number of squares we would need. 

Fun fact: this is already way, way more than we needed for the cake, and we just kept on going.

Those squares were glued to the sides of the cake with more buttercream, ensuring that everyone who wished to celebrate Peter's birthday would be subjected to a layer of fondant, buttercream frosting, more fondant, a thick layer of buttercream/crumb paste, cake, buttercream, more cake, more buttercream, and finally, cake. The order, of course, doesn't matter too much, since it was all bound to come rocketing into the guests' toilets in any order it damn well pleased when the excess of sugar and chocolate made them hurl that night. Nevertheless, it was finished. Behold!

This is a good time for one of those sad noises they use on kids' cartoon shows.

In the end, the cake looked exactly nothing like the picture. It was sad, misshapen, and hardly recognizable as a Rubik's cube. Its only saving grace was the fact that it looked slightly better from a distance. 

See? Perfect.

Glaring imperfections aside, Peter was thrilled with the cake. He realized right away what it was supposed to be, and he was thrilled that we'd spent so much time, sugar and gasoline into making it happen. It will be a long time before fondant darkens my pantry door again, but I wasn't too disappointed with how things turned out.

And best of all, that cake was goddamn delicious.


  1. Hilarious and funnily enough I was doing the same thing for my daughters 18th. I sympathise.

    1. I'm relieved to hear that I'm not the only one with fondant issues!


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