Creating a Thomas the Tank Engine cake for a young friend’s birthday party was my latest cake challenge. Fortunately, I found a lot of help on the internet, and it seems that Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cakes are a popular choice for the young man about town. I used a chocolate fudge cake recipe with vanilla butter cream frosting. Here’s how it turned out:
So here’s how Thomas was made. The cake is the chocolate fudge cake that I use for, well, pretty much everything – and the recipe is here. I used one and a half times the recipe, baking two square cakes in 11×11 inch tins. There is a fair bit of carving involved with Thomas, and a layer of crumbing frosting is essential. This layer is to prevent lots of crumbs spoiling the fondant finishing. You can see the evolution of the shape of the cake in the photos below – two square cakes, cut in half and sandwiched together with layers of yummy vanilla butter cream frosting.
Luckily you can see I had a Thomas toy to model for me! Carving the rounded front end is really the only slightly difficult part, as you can see the rest of the carving are just straight cuts. Here’s how the front turned out, and how Thomas looks after being crumbed.
After this was done, things got serious. I has coloured the fondant I was using already with gel colourings, but the nerves kicked in, so I went browsing for some online assistance. I found this amazing Thomas the Tank Engine cake tutorial (why, oh why didn’t I do this before carving) which outlines both how to construct the cake, and how to make Thomas’ face. Thanks to Wendy for this and you can find her tutorial here. The tutorial is particularly good on how to make the face, and a good tip too to freeze the cake to make it easier to carve, something I didn’t do. Gradually I built up the layers of fondant, and slowly the whole thing started to look right.
I think he looks a bit creepy with no face, so I put the face on next and finished with all the red and yellow bits. You might notice that he isn’t quite anatomically correct, but enough so that I could live with it.
OK – an aside – I am in the process of ordering some cake modelling tools, so I promise in future that some of those sloppy joins will disappear! But I am certainly getting better with the fondant. Perhaps I could have taken a little more care with the carving – he certainly has a lean, maybe he’s just taking a sharp corner?