Nana Glen Mum

Thomas the Tank Engine Cake Tutorial – Part 1- How I did it. April 20, 2009

Thomas the Tank Engine (2)

Well, here I go.  Miss M turned 4 at the start of the month, and like any unconventional little girl, opted out of fairies and princesses for her birthday cake and insisted on Thomas the Tank Engine.   No great surprise since she lives, eats and breathes Thomas.  I have to buy her underwear in the boys’ section because sh

e insists on Thomas undies like her friends (boys) at preschool.  She wears Thomas pyjamas to bed and Thomas t-shirts to preschool.  Everyday she plays with her Thomas train track (talk about value for money mind you!!) and so on it goes, I’m sure you are getting the picture!  The surprise for me though came when she SAID NO TO CHOCOLATE CAKE!!!! and insisted on CARROT CAKE! I kid you not!  You could have knocked me down with a feather!  Anyway, here is how I went about it…

I had read that it is easier to carve your cake if you freeze it first.  I’m guessing it depends on the type of cake.  The carrot cake turned out hard as a rock (and I have very sharp knives) and was very difficult to cut.  My suggestion would be to cut the cake and then freeze it before icing to stop crumbs getting into the cake.  I’ll try that one myself next cake and let you know how it goes.  I have to make a Lightning McQueen this week for Miss M’s friend.

I baked the cake in a square slab pan and cut it into two equal rectangles.  I contemplated baking it in 2 loaf tins but decided against it as loaf tins tend to have sloping sides.  I then put one half to the side for later.Step 1 Top

Step 1

With the half I was working with, I cut it in half laterally to make it lower ie cut

the top half off the bottom half so it looked like this:

After that, I just pretty much broke Thomas down into a series of squares and a circle at the front at stuck them all together with buttercream.  Here comes a photo series of what I did.  I tried to get a couple of pictures of each stage from various angles.  Hope it’s not too boring or repetitive.

Step 2

From the half I had put to the side, I cut it in half lengthways ie front to back and placed on half on top, aligned at the back.

Step 2 Top Step 2 Side

Step 3

Using a circle cutter, I cut a round and placed it in front of the piece from Step 2.

Step 3 Top Step 3 Front Step 3 Side

Step 4

Using a circle cutter, I cut a second round and placed it in front of the piece from Step 3.

Step 4 Top Step 4 Angle Step 4 Front Step 4 Side

Step 5

From lower cake half, I cut a strip and placed it on top of the large block, again aligned at the back.

Step 5 Top Step 5 Angle Step 5 Front Step 5 Side

Step 6

From the higher remains, I cut another block, but lowered it slightly and placed it in front of the piece from Step 5.

Step 6 Top Step 6 Angle Step 6 Front Step 6 Side

Step 7

I put small squares beside the first round.

Step 7 Top Step 7 Angle Step 7 Front Step 7 Side

Step 8

I cut 2 1/4 circles and placed them in front of the squares from Step 7.

Guess what…all done!  Not to hard at all eh?  Now it’s your turn – be sure to send me photos!

Step 8 Top Step 8 Angle Step 8 Front Step 8 Side

I didn’t take photos of how I iced the cake.  As we live out in the country, I can’t buy fondant so I have had to make my Thomas the Tank Engine own.  I found an excellent recipe at Gingerbread House Heaven.  I used their Professional fondant recipe and had great results even though our relative humidity was excessive – we were actually flooded in for 3 days while I made the cake!  Luckily the water dropped and the roads opened in time for the party!  I did the blue first and worked my way forwards.  I made the wheels a few days earlier and dried them out completely so they were nice and hard, and then just stuck them on with a bit of left over buttercream.  I sat the entire cake on a foil lined biscuit tin lid to raise it slightly off thecake board so that the wheels looked about the right level.  As for the face, I had read another great tutorial over at Thomas the Tank Engine Tutorial

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and was going Thomas the Tank Engine (3) to try and sculpt the face myself, but wimped out because my sculpting skills are very very ordinary!  I got some oven bake polymer clay and made an imprint with one of Miss M’s toys.  She has a puzzle that has plastic pieces that make a front on view of Thomas.  I took the face piece, pushed it into the clay and baked the clay to make it hard.  When I was ready to make the face, I coloured it grey, then pushed Thomas the Tank Engine (4) a big piece over the mould and rolled it slightly with a rolling pin for even pressure.  When I pulled the fondant off the clay, I had a wonderful 3 dimensional face!  I used a round cutter (the same one I used for the circle pieces of cake so they were a perfect fit) to cut the face out, and then just added in the coloured details.  It actually turned out to be quite a simple exercise once I broke it all down.

So now you know how to cut up the cake and put it back together again, you’ll be ready to ice it.  Here is how I covered the cake in Part 2 of the tutorial.

Anyway, I hope you have found this helpful, and if you actually know what you are doing, I would love to hear about how I can improve my cake decorating – especially getting my fondant nice and even – it always has lots of lumps and bumps.


First Foodie Blog April 13, 2009

Filed under: Cakes — nanaglenmum @ 2:57 am
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Wow!  What an Easter.  My poor old stomach is still digesting from yesterday!   But man, was it worth it.  We had an unbelievable sumptuous feast – 4 courses of sheer delight.  I’m waiting on some photos from my brother (you can check out his foodie blog at and then I’ll do up a post on the meal.  In the meantime, I thought I would share some of the details of my youngest daughter’s birthday last week.  Miss M turned 4 at the start of the month, and as is the way in our family, it was celebrated with lots and lots of cake.  On her actual birthday we had some friends around for dinner and had her favourite meal – spaghetti bolognaise.  Yummy and easy for a crowd.  We were flooded in (second time in 2 months) for a couple of days, so I had plenty of time to bake and play in the kitchen.  I had been looking on the Wilton site a few days earlier and had seen their really cool Easter checkerboard cake and thought I’d like to give it a go.  They use a pretty nifty cake pan which obviously I didn’t own, and being flooded in had no chance of getting.  I had a look at the pan they used and thought I could do a "make-do" version.  What I did was bake 3 separate round cakes, all in the same side pan, each cake a different colour.  When they had cooled, I got out my round cutters and cut 2 circles out of each with gave me one inner and two rings of each colour.  I then separated them and alternated them, then stacked the new tri-colour cakes one on top of each other with whipped cream between the layers and buttercream on top.





Checkerboard Cake (2) I had used a really light sponge cake recipe, which in retrospect I would not use for this type of Checkerboard Cake cake again as being so delicate, it doesn’t stand up too well to being cut and handled.  When it was cut, the cake pushed into the cream and other layers below it a bit making the slices look a little messy, but the effect was certainly visible, and everyone thought it looked really cool.  Also, the colour of the baked cakes were MUCH MUCH more vivid than the uncooked batter.  Here was I wondering if you were going to be able to differentiate between the layers and I actually ended up with a technicolour cake…much to the delight of 4 year old Miss M and the other 5 kids!  Needless to say, it was delicious.  Here is the recipe for each layer of the sponge:

Sponge Cake Recipe:

2 eggs at room temperature

1/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar

2 tablespoons cornflour

2 tablespoons plain flour

2 tablespoons self-raising flour

Colouring if desired

Beat eggs in a small bowl until thick and creamy.  The longer you beat the eggs at this stage, the lighter the cake will turn out.  You will need to do this with electric beaters for around 7 minutes.  While this is happening, sift the dry ingredients together 3 times (from as high above the bowl as you can manage without getting it all over the bench) into a separate bowl.

Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time making sure it is dissolved between additions.  Add colouring if desired.

Now, with a large metal spoon and as gently as you can, CAREFULLY fold the sifted dry ingredients into the eggs (I usually sift them into the mixture for an extra final aeration).  Spread the mix into a greased 20cm round tin that has been lined with baking paper.  Cook it for around 20 minutes at 190C/375F until it has slightly shrunk in from the edges and a toothpick comes out clean.  IMMEDIATELY turn the cake onto a wire rack to cool.

When you have made all three cakes, each in a different colour, cut the rings and interchange them so that one layer goes colour 1, colour 2, colour 3 from the centre out, the next goes colour 2, colour 3, colour 1, and the final layer goes colour 3, colour 1, colour 2.  Stack the layers and sandwich them with fresh whipped cream.

On the outside, I used a pale green buttercream and some fondant daisies and butterflies.  As I didn’t have either daisy nor butterfly cutters, I had to improvise.  I used a tear drop shaped aspic cutter for the daisy petals and hand rolled small Butterfly Cake balls of yellow fondant for the centres which Butterfly Cake (2) I flattened slightly.  for the butterfly wings, I used a heart cutter and cut off the pointy bottom.

For the fondant shapes, I used the recipe for “Professional Fondant” on Gingerbread House Heaven.  I had already made up a big stack of it for the Thomas the Tank Engine cake which was still uncoloured.  The Vienna Cream was just my ol’ faithful which my mum gave me years ago.  Here it is if you want it:

Mum’s Vienna Cream:

125g/4oz butter, softened

1 1/2 cups icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons/40ml milk

Colouring if desired

Beat butter until it is as white as you can get it.  Add half the icing sugar, beat it in, add the milk, beat it in, add the rest of the sugar and beat it in.  Add colouring as desired

There you go, all finished!  How easy is that!

I guess that’s pretty much it for this post, I will do the next one on the party.  She chose a Thomas the Tank Engine theme (she LOOOOOVES Thomas), so I new I had my work cut out for me! Thanks for reading and pop back soon for the mammoth undertaking that was a 3D Thomas cake!