Friday, January 6, 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine cake - Part One - The party cake

Widget had a birthday. It was his second birthday, and like his brother Sprog at age two he is a big fan of Thomas the Tank Engine. For Sprog's second birthday I made the first of my fancy cakes, a Thomas the Tank Engine.

It took two baked cakes to assemble. I didn't want to do the same thing again, and it took a lot of prep time, although much of that time was due to it being the first time I had done a fancy cake. It was a tall cake and awkward to cut.

This time I again did a Thomas the tank engine, but with his carriages Annie and Clarabel. A total of three cakes. Given that Widget's birthday is in December, and so many people have other commitments we invited a lot of kids, not everyone could come, but including bigger brothers and sisters there were still 20 under-5's and assorted adults at the party. We needed the extra cake!

For the cakes I used packet mixes from Bin Inn. Annie and Clarabel were chocolate cakes, baked in 22cm square tin, sliced in two and stacked on top of each other to create a basic rectangular carriage shape.  For Thomas I used a Buttercake recipe and added blue colouring so Thomas was blue inside and out. I cut the blue cake in half, using one half for the base of Thomas, then cut pieces from the other half to mould his shape. Two smaller rectangles, a circle, a half circle, and an edge bit as the buffer. I stacked them together to check the shape was right. All the cakes, Thomas, Annie, and Clarabel were wrapped in baking paper and frozen, both so I could make them ahead of time, but also to make the crumb coating easier.

 The night before the party I pulled all the cakes out of the freezer, using blue buttercream, or chocolate buttercream I crumbcoated all the cakes. I did a thick layer of chocolate buttercream between the two halves each of Annie and of Clarabel. This was followed by a top coat of chocolate buttercream smoothed carefully. The roof was a rectangle of black coloured chocolate fondant. To finish I put a strip of thin flat licorice around the base of each of the carriages, and stuck on a face I had made from fondant.

The faces for Annie and Clarabel all fondant. Squares of grey, with a pointed nose pressed on. The eyes and pupils were each small balls of white cut in half then gently pressed onto the grey, then even smaller balls of black cut in half and pressed into the white.

At the same time I made a fondant face for Thomas using instructions found on YouTube. which made a big difference to the look of the cake and gave me great pointers used for making the carriage faces too.

The basic shape for Thomas was made from the cake blocks, stuck together with buttercream icing. This was smoothed over using a top layer of blue buttercream. Thomas has a red base plate. In my original cake for Sprog I covered this completely with red fondant then plonked the blue on top. This time I saved a lot of effort by simply wrapping the base plate in red fondant. The roof and windows were all cut from fondant. For the coal store I used whatever was lying around, mostly a couple of skewers and fondant shaping tools to create an impression on the black fondant to look more like coal. To finish him up I added a chimney, fondant over a bit of skewer, and the face, along with Letters of Widget's initial instead of the number 1 or 2 (Thomas' number, or Widget's birthday respectively)

The final touch was cutting train track from licorice, and linking the engine and carriages together.  The cake was a hit, and was all gone by the end of the night.