Thomas Cake – For a friend’s 3 year old son

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This is by far the most difficult and time consuming cake I have ever prepared. But I enjoyed it thoroughly. Few months ago, my friend asked me to bake/decorate a cake for her son’s 3rd birthday. I was very excited about it.

Now after it is all done, I have to write down some things that I learnt. Before this cake, I thought I knew a lot about cake decorating. But this was a whole new learning. After reading two great detailed tutorials, I knew I was going to use fondant for covering the cake. I have not used fondant to cover a cake in a long time. Although I learnt some basics in the Wilton’s classes a long ago, I could not remember anything from then.

Day 1 : The tutorials asked to use a 12×18 sheet pan. I did not have the pan. I checked out and it was $20. I did not want to buy this just for one cake. I already have too many cake pans that I hardly use. So I decided to go with 11×8 pan I had. That meant my baking time was increased by 3 times!. I thought I would cut it later to make it 6" width. But my friend called again and said the guest list had grown a bit!. So I decided to keep it as it is. I baked 3 chocolate cakes. The recipe makes a very soft great tasting cake, I followed it exactly (last time I made this cake, I tried making some adjustments and the cake was not as soft). After all the cakes were baked, I cut them horizontally (to spread the chocolate frosting later), wrapped in silver foil and froze them.

Day 2 : Took out the cake, brushed it with sugar syrup, spread a layer of chocolate frosting in between layers and built the train. Then covered the cake with store bought Wilton’s buttercream icing. I had underestimated the amount of icing needed. So I ran out of it in between. I had to make a batch at home. (Used 4 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup shortening, a little vanilla, mixed everything). I also prepared marshmallow fondant and colored them in blue, black, red, yellow and grey.

Although the tutorial had mentioned to make the face at least 7 days in advance, I waited till day 2 to make it. Main reason being, I had no idea what would be the size of face required. The tutorial makes it look very simple. It was much harder than that. I tried couple of times and gave up. I did not like the way it was looking. So I asked the help of resident artist. Did I mention V is a very good artist? I had full faith in his sculpting skills. I requested him to sculpt the face. And he did not disappoint me!. The face was THE best part of the cake. He got the cheeky Thomas smile too!.

Day 3 : Rolled the fondant and covered the cake. Here were the biggest hurdles. I thought covering with fondant was very easy. I was so wrong!. The fondant kept breaking – I was rolling it too thin I think. It was very time consuming to cut all the thin strips needed. I think all I need here is more practice. I am sure I can do a better job next time.

Other very important thing to keep in mind – when you are following a tutorial, figure out the mistakes in the tutorial. I blindly followed the tutorial instead of looking at Thomas toy (although I had it infront of me). I later realized there were too many small errors – like the shape of the red lines on the sides are different on Thomas toy. The Number 1 is inside the red lines – not in between the lines!. On top of that, I made my own mistakes, so they add up!

In all, the cake was a huge hit at the party. Everyone liked it. The taste and texture of the cake were too good. Unlike last time, this time I had taken enough time to properly brush the cake with sugar syrup. I did not rush anything, took enough time to cool the cake before icing. I have to improve a lot in getting a smooth finishing. I will work on my fondant skills soon. I was very happy I could do this for the little dude, nothing more satisfying than making a child happy :).

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36 thoughts on “Thomas Cake – For a friend’s 3 year old son”

  1. Wow!! This is marvellos. Hats off to you for this masterpiece. I’m sure the birthday boy was super delighted.

  2. Hi, I have always been reading your receipes and found them very intresting. Hats off to you for managing work and the lovely receipes and cooking. I really loved the way you have made this cake and will try it for my son who is crazy about Thomas since he was a baby, now he is five years old. Will keep u posted after I make the cake. Fantastic job.

  3. Ah, Shilpa! I liked in on FB, but I want to keep liking it here too!
    Well done, girl! you are so talented. I have liked all ur creations and am sure you will come up with more masterpieces.

  4. Gosh- you did a fantastic job! Lots of patience and hard work here. I always wonder whether fondant tastes good (obviously, it looks fantastic) and glad you mentioned that the taste was great too.

    I have to agree that V’s sculpting of the Thomas face is SPOT-ON!

    1. Nupur, Earlier I had tried store bought fondant which tasted so bad. Marshmellow fondant is not that bad. I flavored it with a bit of vanilla. So it tasted good. After I finished the cake, I saw the author of the tutorial had used ginger bread house heaven’s fondant. I am going to try it next time.
      Oh yes, the face was the best. V is a very good artist, I wish he got back to painting!

  5. Shilpa, Foudant is not very great tasting. When you cut the cake, do you remove it or just cut is as usual and the guests remove it , or we eat it as such.

    1. Saritha, it was not as bad as store bought fondant. I made it with marshmellow and added a bit of vanilla to it. Everyone ate the cake along with fondant

  6. WOOWWW!!!! that is one amazing looking cake, Shilpa!!! Atleast I can try baking the chocolate cake. The rest will be too much of a challenge for amateur bakers like me. But one day……..

  7. lovely looking cake….hats off to you for all the effort.I must say I visit a lot of food blogs but I’m hooked onto yours..keep up the good work.

  8. Thanks for the prompt reply. I am a regular follower of your site and I find most of your recipes really simple & tasty. 🙂
    I am trying to follow your tips & decorate a cake for the first time. I hope it turns out ok.

  9. This is unbelievably beautiful. Like thesis work in cake-baking.
    After all that work, how can anyone have the heart to drive a knife through such art?

  10. This one is Truly amazing Shilpa. How much patience and skills you have and that too with a little one at home and a job. Amazing. I can never, ever say “will try” on something like this, it is beyond me.

  11. Hi Shilpa,thomas cake looks awesome and for that matter all ur recipes are outstanding,i have been following your blog for a while and it is absolutely great.I have been so much motivated to start my own blog:) and hope to start one soon:)

  12. hey :)… i jus love ur recipes…. i tried making fondant but it jus never is good…. can u pls tel me how to make the fondant …. i stay in india so let me know the ingredients for it… 🙂

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