I do love a bit of a challenge so when I was asked to make a Thomas the tank engine birthday cake for my Godson’s last birthday I jumped at the chance.
How hard could it be….
Well not so hard if you do a bit of research on the net, apply some maths and have a bit of time on your hands. In the end you will end up with a Thomas cake and a bit of an obsession with Thomas the tank engine and the gang (Did you know that Thomas’ carriages have names?).
Anyway, I thought it would be a good idea to blog about it in order to help anyone else out that might want to make a similar cake.
I have broken the whole process into six steps, five of which I did each night in the lead up to the birthday party:
Step one- Thomas cake plan on paper and doing some Thomas research.
There are a lot of tutorials that came up with the basic Thomas shape and then carved in the detail.
As I’m not great at carving cakes into shapes when I found this more mathematical approach I used it as a basis for my plan: http://nanaglenmum.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/thomas-the-tank-engine-cake-how-i-did-it/
To get the length I used a roasting tin that was 40cm by 28cm and scaled the pieces accordingly. I then created a paper plan of each piece of cake I would need to build the Thomas cake.
This also helped me to work out how much cake I would need.
Step two- Baking the cake.
Once I worked out how much cake I needed, all that I was needed to do was bake the cake. My friend Linzi gave me the recipe below, the resulting cake is perfect for covering with fondant as it is firm, easy to carve and moist. NB the recipe is for double quantities of the corresponding size.
Working with such large quantities of cake mixture I used my Kitchen Aid as opposed to the electronic hand whisk that I usually would use for making cakes.
I made two rectangular cakes at 40cm by 28cm. This made more than enough cake, the extra cake was used to make the cake pops (I will be blogging about cake Pops later in the week).
When the cakes cooled, I wrapped them in cling film and placed them in the freezer.
Step three- Thomas’ face
As you need to do the Thomas’ face in advance so that it has enough time to dry, I made up a bit of grey fondant (use black food colouring and mix this with white fondant).
Remember that the face sits in the middle with around 2-3cm of space on either side for the arch detail. I used the pastry cutter one bigger than the one that I used for the cylindrical body of the cake.
Step four- Making the fondant colours
I always use white fondant and colour it myself, this way if you have any fondant left over you can use it for something else.
Also, white fondant is cheaper than premixed colored fondant and mixing it yourself means you have more control on the outcome of the colour.
Saying that I always buy black fondant, its just easier that way as I find when I mix it looks more grey than black.
Step five- Assemble the cake and crumb coat
Make up your buttercream, melt your jam, clear space in your fridge for the cake and assemble the following tools:
- Clean ruler (I have several that I only use for cooking
- Palette knife
- Normal knife (for the jam)
- Small knife
- Large knife
- Cake board
Make sure you have a lot of room, and take out the frozen cake as you need it. I put all the pieces in place roughly took a photo and then started to assemble sticking each element with a mix of jam and buttercream.
Once you have placed all the pieces cover the whole cake in buttercream and place in the fridge overnight.
Step six- Cover cake and add detail
For this step you need to constantly be looking at photos of Thomas, there are several variations, so make sure you stick to the one so that you don’t get confused.
Once you have covered the cake with fondant add the detail by using edible glue. This needs to be made up the day before as it will run otherwise, which is what happened to me.
The competed cake looked good, I was a bit disappointed with the run due to the glue but, I wont make that mistake for the next cake.
If you would like any advice on how to make a Thomas cake contact me at email@example.com.
Social tagging: birthday cake > cake > cooking for friends > DIY cakes > thomas > train