Step-by-step instructions for How to Make Fireman's Helmet Cake. This cake was 100% edible and was made as a groom's cake. I'm sharing all the details for how to recreate this fire helmet cake for the hero in your life.
Originally posted October 9, 2011. Updated January 16, 2021.
Let me start by saying that at the time (in 2011), this was by far the most challenging cake I'd ever attempted in my short time of cake making. The bride-to-be requested A Fireman's Helmet Cake for her groom.
But not just any fireman's helmet. She wanted details. Lots of details... and she wanted it as "real" as I could get it. Well, that made me a little LOT nervous! However, I wanted to write a blog post about it while it was all still fresh on my mind. So here goes...
Before I get too far, I'll tell you that this entire cake and all the decorations were edible. The only exception was the inside of the flashlight - it was a cardboard tube. I don't have a lot of tricks to make this easier, but I'm sharing as many details as I can.
Firefighter's Helmet Cake Details:
- The firefighter's helmet cake was all red velvet cake (see my recipe here).
- It was filled and frosted with vanilla buttercream.
- The cake was covered and decorated with Satin Ice black fondant, Satin Ice Dark Chocolate brown fondant, and homemade marshmallow fondant (for the white, yellow, and silver decorations).
- I used some Satin Ice Gum Paste and tylose for pieces I needed to dry hard. For example, the bracket holding the flashlight was made with gum paste.
Black and Brown Fondant
I know you might be wondering about me using the store-bought fondant, since I almost always make my own.
But after several very unsuccessful attempts at making pure black and chocolate/brown fondant, I changed direction. I knew I'd need a lot of black fondant for this cake design so I opted to buy it. And I have to say, I was very pleased with it!
So, about those instructions, I mentioned in the title, here is a run-down of how I did it!
This was my first time and I'm sure somebody out there has a better way of doing this! I certainly learned a few things from this cake - but maybe it'll help somebody!!
Instructions for making a Fireman's Helmet Cake
Because the bride and groom wanted the flashlight hanging on the helmet, the yellow fabric hanging from under the back, and wanted it as "real" looking as possible, the first thing I realized was that I needed to elevate the helmet.
I did this by baking a 13.5 x 9.8 inch oval cake to use as the base of the cake and helmet. This 2- inch cake was sort of the bottom tier if you will.
The "Fabric" on the Cake
For the back, I deliberately let the yellow hang and fold onto itself so that it looked (hopefully) like the fabric hanging from the real helmet I had as a model.
I cut off the excess with a pizza cutter and after I took these pictures, I even went back and used a tiny wheel (from this set) to add "stitching" or stitch marks to the edges to make it look as if it were sewn.
Here's a picture I took later, but it's terrible lighting...
Making the Brim of the Fireman's Helmet Cake
Anyway. For the brim of the hat, I started by carving a piece of Styrofoam to use as a "mold" for the brim. My husband was a huge help with this... I couldn't have done it without him!! I then wrapped that in plastic wrap and dusted it generously with corn starch.
I allowed this to try and harden for just under a week, maybe 4-5 days.
What size cakes do you need for a firefighter helmet cake?
When I started working, I ended up carving off about an inch of the soccer ball round cake and probably more than an inch off of one of the 10" rounds.
It was still about half an inch taller than the real helmet. I also carved some off the sides to give it a slightly oval shape instead of perfectly round.
Making Straps and Buckles
I also used a long strip of black fondant for the edge of the helmet, then used the nylon strap again to texture the edging on the brim after I got it attached. For the buckles, I just hand-cut them to match as best I could and let them dry for a couple of days.
When I got around to assembly, I looped the (still soft) brown straps through the holes, folded them under, and "glued" them so that they'd look like the real straps.
When it was done, the buckles were actually moveable on the straps because they were separate pieces... it was pretty neat (although not much moving was done... I was way too nervous to be playing with them!!).
Making Silver Buckles and Brackets on a Cake
After they dried, for the silver ones, I mixed Wilton Silver Pearl dust with some vodka and painted it on. The vodka all evaporated away leaving a silver finish!
I used the same method on the stickers on the helmet, except I used Wilton White Pearl dust to imitate the reflective white finish on those (although it was hard to see in the pictures).
For the flashlight, I used a 1" cardboard tube and wrapped it in the fondant. I added the button on the end and used the Silver Pearl dust for the "light". To get those sharp edges on the flashlight holder, I took a huge thick ball of fondant, slightly flattened it (to about 1" thick) and used a big knife to cut away the fondant at angles to leave those "corners".
Also, I left the flashlight and the bracket/holder separate to dry until it was time to assemble the cake. Then I slid the flashlight into the bracket holder. I had to use a little shortening to get it to slide in easily because the bracket shrank a little when it dried.
For the final assembly, I first put the oval cake on the board then covered it as described. I inserted some cut bubble tea straws for support.
Next, I spread some buttercream on that and laid a 9-inch cardboard round on that with more buttercream on top, then the large flat dried piece of cut-out fondant on it (with the brim/edges hanging over).
Then I put the 10-inch round cakes and the ball cake on top of that (already filled, assembled, and carved). I also used bubble tea straws in the 10-inch rounds for support underneath the ball cake.
After all that, I put a generous layer of buttercream over the entire ball.
The Ridge of the Fireman's Helmet
To get the "ridge" on the top of the helmet, I shaped a piece of fondant into a long rectangle and cut the edges to give them sharp corners and to give it the length needed.
I then laid it on the cake and used my fingers to smooth down (taper) the ends to match the helmet. Once that was shaped as I wanted, I rolled out and covered the entire helmet with black fondant (including the brims). I had it big enough that it went a little over the edges of the brim.
After that, I cut long strips of black fondant (about twice as wide as I needed it) and I folded it over the edges (under and over) to create the edge and then I textured those.
When all of that was done.... I added the details.... the stickers, the brackets, the straps, and the flashlight.
The Stickers on the Helmet Cake
Speaking of... here are a couple of notes on the stickers. The shield or sticker on the front of the helmet is probably one thing I was most disappointed with. First, I had to draw/write all those details on and it was hard. I am not good at writing with any kind of edible medium.
If I had it to do again, I'd get custom edible images made. This way the stickers would be sharp and realistic.
For the stickers on the side, the letters were larger, so I used these Wilton letter cutters, but I cut the tops and bottoms to make them more square!
Then there's the front badge. I traced and cut it directly from the real helmet. But somehow when gluing it on (with sugar glue), it got distorted.
I'm thinking when I was smoothing it down trying to make sure all the edges were secure, I "stretched" the fondant. This made the right side distorted and also smeared the border.
Unfortunately, I'm so focused when working on something like this, that I didn't step back and look at the "big picture" until it was too late. The badge was stuck in place and trying to move it would've made a big mess! Oh well...
So, that's that. I really wish I had taken pictures throughout the process so that I could show you how I did it! But either way, there you go - A Fireman's Helmet Cake!!
Any questions about this cake? Leave them in the comments and if you make one like it, I’d love to see the pics!!