I made this Thomas the Train cake for my nephew who was turning 5. I printed pictures from the internet, as well as used my nephew's toy, for my model. I got ideas from different sites to put together the final creation.
The Face: I would suggest that you make the face first several days before you need it, since it's made of fondant and will need time to dry out. This was my first time working with fondant. I used white Wilton fondant. Add a small amount of black food coloring to a toothpick and work it into a handful of fondant. Putting Crisco on your fingers will make it easier to work with the fondant.
Keep working the food coloring into the fondant until you are happy with the color. Add only a dot at a time. If you add too much, add more white fondant. Once the fondant is the color that you want, dust your work area with powdered sugar or corn starch or use wax/parchment paper to keep the fondant from sticking. Flatten the fondant into a circle about 3 inches or smaller in diameter.
Make the nose. With a flat tool I used a citrus peeler (orange and plastic), just below the center of the circle, create a small groove. Lift carefully with a finger to form a small hole. Insert a small ball of fondant into the hole; then close the hole. Smooth the nose down with a bit of Crisco.
Keep the fondant moist with Crisco as you are working it, so that it does not crack. Don't use too much or it will become glossy. Use your fingertip (clip nails first) to make indentions for the eyes. Take a small amount of white fondant and pinch at the ends. Flatten to make Thomas' mouth. Brush a drop of water on the back of the mouth, and then put it in place. Lift the fondant at the corner of each side of the mouth to form a hole.
Insert a small ball of fondant into each of the holes. Smooth the open cheeks over the inserted balls. Gently use your index fingers to pull and rub the fondant down.
Using white fondant, shape two circles that will fit in the indentions that you made for the eyes. Make a ball that you want the size of the eyes to be, and then flatten it out. Add water to the back of the eye and then place in the indention. Color some fondant black and repeat the process for the pupils of the yes. The process is similar for the eyebrows. Pinch them to achieve their shape.
The Cake: Bake the cake ahead of time so you can freeze it. Let it cool completely before freezing. Wrap it with wax paper and plastic to prevent freezer burn. Freeze the cake for a couple of hours or until frozen. I used one box of cake mix and split the batter into an 8x8 pan and a soup can. I lined the soup can with wax paper and filled it about 2/3 full of batter. I cut the square cake in half to make the base. One half was turned long ways, the other was turned sideways.
Frost Thomas with a crumb coat of butter cream frosting. Don't worry about how it looks. The goal is to catch the crumbs. Let it crust for about 7 minutes. I piped the frosting filling the spaces and then use a spatula dipped in hot water (shake) to smooth over the piped frosting.
I used Oreo cookies for the wheels. I removed the center and piped blue icing on them. The smokestack is a large pretzel stick cut to the appropriate length and covered with black frosting.
When you are ready, put a spoonful of piping gel (or frosting) and spread it on the back of the face to hold it in place. The black frosting is dark chocolate frosting with coca added to it. The red is gel frosting.
Since my nephew was turning 5, I made the number 5 out of white fondant with yellow food coloring added and put the yellow 5 on the engine.
This Homemade Thomas The Train Cake was a lot of work, but seeing how happy my nephew was made it worth it.