My girlfriend’s daughter was turning 3, and loves Thomas the tank engine, so I volunteered to make the Thomas Cake. It went from a small project, to “how on earth am I going to store and transport this thing” and my personal favourite comment from the hubby “How are you going to top this for our daughter’s birthday in 3 weeks?” but where there’s a will, there’s a way. And seeing the little girl’s big eyes and happy smiles was worth all 3 days and nights spent on it.

I did a lot of research online, especially for Thomas’ face, and used the little girl’s toy as a model. The cake is all vanilla. The engine is a cake mould borrowed from another friend. The 2 cars are layered loaf pans. I was worried it would be too little cake but we were eating it for days.

I started with the face. It’s made from homemade fondant and lots of patience. Then onto the cars. I iced and layered them with coloured buttercream, then raised them up on Oreos, with Oreos for wheels. The black icing is chocolate buttercream tinted with black gel food colouring, but still tasted pretty gross. But the kids didn’t mind one bit. I tinted more buttercream blue to match the Thomas toy, iced it and also raised this cake on some Oreos to make it look right. More Oreos for wheels with the blue piped on top. The only things not homemade in this cake are the liquorice and candies on the cars and the red on Thomas, as I was given a tube of red icing. Oh yeah, and the Oreos and candle. Thankfully the face was still fairly soft when I was attaching it to the cake, as I had to curve it slightly. It still cracked, but a wet paintbrush fixed that.

The board is a shelf stolen from my laundry room, washed, covered with foil and black electrical tape to frame it and then painted with watered down green buttercream. Yes, they gave me back my shelf! The tracks are more fondant, the railroad ties are chocolate piped into logs. The writing is more blue buttercream icing. The girlfriend showed me how to tint coconut with green food colouring to make grass, which was sprinkled on at her house after transportation.

Next time I would ice the underside of the cars, and use a more moist cake recipe as it was a bit dry. But it had a great buttery flavour. (I used a recipe from the Wilton website, as it’s a Wilton train mold). But really, I’m never making a shaped cake this big again. I have 2 girls, and they will be getting princess cakes until they cry for something different!