Birthday Cupcake Tractor

You may remember from last year that I made a 6-0 cake for my dad for his birthday decorated with candy melt cars (A Cake to Love Whether You Are 6 or 60) Of course, I had to find a way to one-up myself. So this year, after seeing some cool inspo on Pinterest, I decided to make my dad, John, a John Deere tractor out of mini cupcakes.

A couple things you should know about my dad — in his retirement, he has become obsessed with tractors. A few people in my neighborhood have recently purchased small vintage tractors and they all get together to fix them up together. Hence, a tractor made out of cupcakes was perfect to bring to my dad’s birthday lunch at which some of these neighbors would be present.

Here’s an overview of how I made it!

Usually I would bake the cupcakes the night before and ice them the morning of. Unfortunately, I was crunched for time and had to to everything the morning of. Therefore, I tried using Cake Mate cans of icing I picked up at Stop and Shop to save time. It also only took one box of Betty Crocker cake mix, not two to make the 45 miniature cupcakes I used to build the tractor.

After following the directions on the box to make the cupcakes, I took them out of the pan to let them cool.

While they cooled, I prepared the “tray” I would use to transport the cupcakes on. Fortunately, my parents only live around the block, so I reasoned the best way to get the cupcakes there without anything happening to them would be by walking and carrying them on a flat and sturdy tray. However, since I didn’t have one big enough, I had to improvise.

I cut out two pieces of cardboard and sandwiches the baking pan I used between them to create the sturdy tray I was looking for. I used duct tape to secure the cardboard.

Next I wrapped the entire tray in aluminum foil to ensure I had a smooth, clean surface and used my Cricut to cut out the words “Happy Birthday Farmer John” on black vinyl. I started arranging the cupcakes on my tray and then adhered the letters in the upper right hand corner.

To create the silhouette of the tractor, I simply googled images of a “John Deere Tractor” and then played around with the placement of the cupcakes until I was satisfied with how it turned out. I made sure that the rear wheel was larger than the front one — a detail I felt my dad would appreciate.

Once I had the cupcakes in place and the vinyl adhered, I marked all of my cupcakes with which color they would be and began icing!

After icing, I very carefully pierced the side of one of the cupcakes with a knife and inserted 3 yellow birthday candles to serve as the exhaust pipe of the tractor.

And just like that, my dad’s 61st birthday tractor cake was ready to go!

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