My son is a big train fan and so initially I started enquiring all the stores nearby if they had one for his 2nd birthday. What I realised was that they would just offer me a rectangular cake with a train toy on it. So then I decided to bake a cake myself to make it more personalized and special. My first place to check for cool birthday cakes was obviously "coolest birthday cakes.com" ! :) After going through many ideas n tips given by the cool moms (thank you) on this website I constructed my own train.
I used plain yellow cake mix and ready made frosting for the entire cake. I worked with a 9 X 11 inch pan and baked 3 cakes in it. And then cut and layered them to form the engine and the 2 train cars.The cyclindrical shape was achieved by heavily buttering a tin can (as someone had suggested, my other idea was to use a cupcake mold to bake a few and fuse them together but the can idea worked real well) Luckily my cake came out easily from the can -I didnt have to open the other end with a can opener!
To be able to fit the huge cake in my fridge I built the engine on one cardboard tray (covered with foil) and each train car on a separate tray. So I had these 3 trays which I could easily carry to the birthday venue(a park). And I used a 4th tray to write a message and all these 4 trays formed a rectangle when placed together.
For decorating-I used chocolate & cream cheese frosting and added food colors to get all the colors I wanted. I used oreos and M&M's and licorice to join the engine and train cars, icing for some grass and the message. The front of the engine had a picture of my son (ditto like Thomas train -except it was my son's train!) and had has name written. My son loves sesame street characters and Maisy the mouse. So I printed some pictures (2 sided),stuck them on toothpicks and placed them on the cake.
He was thrilled to see a train cake along with his favorite characters on it! I think all the effort paid off to see him so happy and all his friends were so excited to eat a big train cake! :)