My favorite part of the cake was the smoke stack. The top is a whole cupcake, and the base of a second cupcake is glued underneath. I frosted it together and draped it with black fondant.
Unfortunately, gray frosting isn't that all appealing, but I figure a true Thomas fan wouldn't mind. To make the cake more visually appealing for grownups, when I have to use weird frosting flavors, I typically pipe untinted vanilla frosting between the layers.
The design was super-straightforward, and yet this cake took hours to finish (as my friend, who kept me company, drinking wine and listening to music into the wee hours, can attest!). It was a good reminder that simple designs require that everything is executed well - there's nowhere to hide any errors!
The recipes are my favorite usual chocolate cake and vanilla bakery frosting:
Happy birthday to this cutie Thomas fan!