This Great Cake Contest entry was submitted by imruffsdad from Fremont, California: This was a cake for my youngest daughters 2nd birthday. At the time, wheels on the bus was her favorite song.
The Book I: Prepare a 1/2 sheet cake of your favorite type. The "cover" can be a little heavy so a denser cake might work better. I made one from scratch which generally turns out more dense then a mix. Carrot cake or pound cake would work out well too.
The Book II: I split and filled the chocolate cake with raspberry filling. Your favorite jam from the store will work or there are many places on line in which to order. I then crumb coated with a light layer of butter cream frosting (store bought is fine here as well) and put it in the refrigerator while I worked on the cover.
Book III: I used Modeling Chocolate for the book cover. There are many recipes for this two ingredient delight, chocolate and corn syrup. I used 1/2 milk chocolate and 1/2 semi sweet because most recipes call for semi but that tends to be to rich for kids. Another quick tip, buy a BUNCH of Tootsie Rolls and microwave them 30 seconds at a time until they are pliable. Roll out the modeling chocolate to the size of the book cake plus about an inch.
I used this plastic shelf lining that I got at the home store. It had a fish net pattern with holes that went all the way through it. Once I had the size I needed I put this on top and rolled the impression into it to give a leather like texture. Lay this cover over the crumb coat and then pipe on any writing to complete.
Book IV: For the sides of the book I used white fondant rolled out into a log 1 1/2 inch strip and then I rolled a pizza cutter back an forth to get the look of "pages". I brushed this with a little powdered cinnamon to get an older look to the edges and the book was done.
The Bus I: The bus was my first attempt with fondant and it looked like it had a couple of fender benders so I guess it was a good idea to do a vehicle for my first try. You basically stack the cakes into the appropriate shape, fill the layers if you want, and then crumb coat and freeze again.
The Bus II: You can buy pre-colored fondant at cake supplies or online, or just use white and dye it yellow like I did. The big secrets that no one tells you about fondant are 1) roll it thick your first time out. Mine was a 1/4 inch. 2) Fondant, in particular thick fondant, is VERY forgiving. For odder shapes like the bus role out a huge piece and have a friend help you lift it in place.
Trim the excess leaving about 2 inches all around to play with. Start at a corner and lift the bottom of the fondant with one hand and smooth and stretch over the corners with the other. Move from that corner around the cake and then trim the excess close.
The Bus III: I used my home printer to print the kids pictures and more fondant for the door and siding. Some cookies for the wheels and I was good to go. One regret? I wanted it shiny so I oiled it with veg oil at the end. I didn't like the way it looked and wouldn't do that again.
Ok, that was a little long but I wanted to be somewhat detailed because in the details is a sense of comfort that you can do this. Give it a shot.