Sunday, December 2, 2012


We never watched a lot of Thomas at our house, but he is certainly a staple with many toddlers. For a cute little 3-year-old guy's birthday, I was asked to make this sweet, simple cake. The family requested a minimal amount of fondant, so I kept it to just a few accents, using it to create a little depth while following the elemental gray, turquoise, black, and red colors of the tank engine. It was easy to cut long strips of black and red for the edges, but I was surprised how difficult it was to apply it evenly, without it stretching or breaking. (I hid the seams in the back.) I piped extra frosting for the cheeks, nose, and eye sockets, then smoothed it out the best I could to make the face seamless.

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!

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