Thursday, March 15, 2012

Train Cake

I can't believe I made my boys 2nd birthday cake.  Not the fact that I made it... the fact that it's their 2ND ONE!!  It's not suppose to go this fast is it ;) ... yeah, yeah I know the answer to that already. 

I normally take pictures during the entire process of the cake building but this time was different.  This cake was for my boys party so I already had the house decorated and half set up.  I didn't have very much space to put cake supplies and cake to take pictures.  So instead of taking pictures during the entire thing I only took finished product.  Oh and when I thought about taking pictures I decided not to because I thought the cake looked HORRIBLE... then it was finished and if I do say so myself think it was out of this world! 

Disclaimer... This is NOT an original idea.  I searched online for train cake pictures.  When I make cakes I normally get an idea from the client (invitation, decorations, ideas, etc.) and then search for other peoples creations.  After seeing a few I take (what I think are) the best parts from each and incorporate them into mine.  However, when I was searching for train cakes I came across this one and right away knew that I wanted to duplicate it!

These are the little accessories to the cake.  I LOVED how there were 2 engines.  How perfect was that.  One engine for M and one for G!

Normally when I make figurines I do it completely out of fondant or gum paste.  This time I decided to do the figures out of Rice Krispie Treats and then just cover them in fondant.  I didn't want to wait long for the block of fondant to dry and stiffen so I thought I would squish some treats to form cars.  It was SO easy!

The cake is made out of 2 10 inch rounds and 2 8 inch rounds.  I cut a hill (or spiral) down the cake to form the train track.

I piped brown buttercream to make the spiral look like a track.

I piped green grass around the edge of the track and edge of the bottom of each cake.  Then I piped some trees and made some fondant clouds.

I love the steam coming out of the train.

I definitely think there is an easier way to carve a spiral.  I think next time I ever have to make a spiral cake I will 'waste' more cake.  I don't love the seam of the two different sizes.  If I use larger circles I think I can avoid some of the dislikes I have.

Here's the cake the day of the party with it's candles all ready to be lit to sing to M and G.

G (left) and M (right) blowing out their 2 candles.  M actually blew out BOTH of his candles on his own.  G was blowing perfectly but the air was angled the wrong way so Mommy helped a little bit (I don't think he realized... I hope not anyway because they were having SO much fun blowing out the candles).


  1. Hi,
    I love your train cake and would like to do one for my son. Can I ask you a few questions regarding the construction of the cake?

    a) Did you use wooden dowels to support the cakes?
    b) usually a cake cardboard is required for each level, did you also place each cake on a cardboard between layers?
    c) And how did you manage to cover with fondant and carve a spiral out of the cake?

    Hope you can help me with the above questions. Thank you and have a nice day!

    Miss B

    1. Hi,
      Thank you! Oh geeze I made this cake over a year ago. I will do my best to try to explain what I much as I can remember

      I did use wooden dowels. I put them in both layers of the cake. I always go overboard on the dowels. I also used the cardboard.

      Ok, I'm going to try to do a step by step with as much as I can remember...

      1. fill your bottom cake and then carve. (I used parts of this tutorial to help me do the spiral.

      after I carved I put the dowels in

      2. put your top cake on a cardboard disk and fill. then place the top cake on the bottom cake. line it up and cut the next spiral.

      3. take the cakes apart.

      4. crumb coat the bottom cakes and the top cakes (stiffen in fridge)

      5. cover both tiers (separately with fondant)

      6. slap some butter cream on top of the fondant of the bottom cake and place the top cake (you could probably go without the cardboard...(I think I used cardboard but maybe I removed it when I was carving, I honestly don't remember)

      Now you can decorate it.

      I hope I answered your questions and didn't confuse you even more. If you have anymore questions I will do my best to answer :)

      I would love to see how yours turns out :)

    2. Hi Kristin,

      I really appreciate you taking the time to reply, it really means a lot to me.

      Actually I saw the tutorial page on cakecentral before chancing upon your website. But I couldn't visualize what the lady did with the cut-out portion of the spiral. It seemed that she didn't throw it away but transplant it further down the cake. But that is not my biggest concern, cos I can just do a simple steep slope that spirals down all the way.

      I do have some more questions to clarify though;

      1) when you say "fill" your bottom cake, what do you mean?

      2)when you cover both tiers separately with fondant, do you also take the spiral apart and cover it separately, then stick it back, or was the spiral part of the lower cake tier? Wouldn't it be difficult to cover with fondant since it was not a regular shaped thing?

      3)how long can the fondant cake last? do you put in the fridge? I need to figure out how long in advance I need to make the cake, since it is gonna take me a lot of work.

      4) what kind of buttercream frosting did you use?

      I have never done a fondant covered cake before, though I have made a fondant train topper with cargo trains on top of a cake crumbcoated with swiss meringue buttercream. Mine was a very modest train cake done last year.

      Thanks again for answering my queries =)

  2. Fill... I just meant your filling... whether it be buttercream or whatever you want..

    I left the spiral together. So if you look at the picture I attached the bottom level is actually 4 cakes. I filled each layer with my buttercream and then put it together to be 4 high. Then I cut the spiral. After cutting the spiral I dirty iced or crumb coat whatever you want to call it :)

    I then did the same with the top layer (which was also 4 cakes).

    Then I took the top layer (top 4) off the bottom and covered in fondant. You will cover it as if it was a regular shape cake and gently smooth it down with your hands and fingers to make it smooth over the slope. You just want to make sure you have more than enough fondant that way you cover the entire thing. It's not as hard as it seems. The fondant is pliable enough that going over the slope isn't very difficult. What's nice about this cake too, is if your fondant cracks or rips it's normally at the top edge of the cake and you can just put grass there to cover any imperfections.

    I DON'T put my covered (in fondant) cake in the fridge!! It can begin to taste like whatever is in the fridge and I don't know how to regulate the temperature enough to make sure the colors don't run or fade. I just do these for fun and normally always do the decorating the night before the cake is needed.

    I always make the cakes early. You can make them and cover them in plastic wrap and or a ziplock bag and put in the fridge until you are ready for them. (They are also easier to cut when cold). You can make the buttercream in advance if you want. I like to make it right when I'm going to put it on the cake though otherwise you have to cream it again to get it soft and spreadable and I feel like that takes just as long as if I was doing all of it right then and there.

    I use the ( I think) Wiltons buttercream recipe but I alter it a bit.
    Yields 3 cups
    1/2 tsp clear vanilla extract
    1/2 tsp butter flavor
    2 tbls milk
    1/2 cup veg. shortening
    1/2 cup butter
    1 tbls meringue powder
    1lb (appx 4 cups) powdered sugar
    sift sugar and powder into large bowl set aside
    cream shortening, butter, flavorings and milk
    gradually add the dry

    I also make my own mini marshmallow fondant. (you might already have a recipe..but...)
    16oz white mini marshmallows
    2-5 tbls water (I normally go with 3 1/2)
    2lbs powdered sugar (I normally sift this)
    shortening to grease your countertop and hands
    place mm in a large microwave safe bowl. add 3 1/2 tbls water. microwave for 30 seconds stir and continue 30 seconds and stir until it is melted. add powdered sugar. I mix it in the bowl until the bowl overflows or I can't use a spoon to mix it anymore. Then I dump it on a greased counter with the remainder of the sugar and knead until the right consistency. Make sure your hands are well greased. I keep the shortening close and reapply to the counter and my hands.

    Your train is awesome!

    *I can't figure out how to post the picture here ...

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You really inspire me to do this train cake! I am initially not quite convinced that I will be able to pull this off, but with your detailed step-by-step instructions, I am gonna give it a go this weekend!

      I have not done my own marshmallow fondant before, and I usually buy ready-made roll fondant from the cake supplies store. I was thinking hard how much I would need for such a big cake, but if I can do it my own, then I don't have to buy the fondants in huge quantities.

      Is the marshmallow recipe more than enough for the cake of this size? Can I make the fondant in advance and keep it covered and kept in a cool place (not the fridge)?

    2. I've never purchased store bought fondant. I've heard that the mini marshmallow fondant tastes better. I personally don't eat the fondant.

      No it definitely is not enough fondant. I think I made 3 batches. Yes, you can make the fondant ahead of time. I normally make it then lightly coat it shortening and wrap with plastic wrap and or zip lock bag then put it in the FRIDGE. (I just don't put my completely decorated cake in...I'm not sure if you can, but I've heard it has to be regulated ... I don't know)

      You can dye it ahead of time too. I like to dye it and let it sit in the fridge over night, it deepens the color. If you do color it and put it in the fridge make sure you coat it well with shortening otherwise it will dry out.

      I'm sure it will turn out great.

    3. Kristin, Thanks for your prompt reply!
      I will go buy the marshmallow and other stuffs tomorrow and start work on the fondant. Will keep you updated :)

    4. Hi Kristin,
      If I run out of icing sugar, can i use castor sugar and grind it in food processor to form powdered sugar, is it the same?

      I can't find to seem to find plain white marshmallows here, they are all coloured (pink and white). Do you have another fondant recipe that doesn't require marshmallows?

      Sorry for bugging you all the time...

  4. Hi Kristin,

    Just to update you on my train cake. This is it.
    I used ready-made marshmallow fondant and buttercream. I didn't get to do the winding slope as I was short of time, and too overwhelmed by the technicalities. In fact I had problems draping the fondant, it tore at a few places, had to use stick cookies to disguise the imperfections.

    But this is truly a learning experience, I really must thank you for sharing your experience with me! The winding slope will probably be a project for next year!