This week was special as it was my baby's birthday! He turned 3!! He is no longer a baby!:( Since he now understands the concept of the birthday song, I wanted to make it special for him. He actually had 3 celebrations at three different times!I made three different types of cakes for each one of them. He had a party a few days earlier for which I made this train cake. He had a celebration at school for which I made mini-cupcakes without icing on them as the school won't allow anything sugary!! That's good, right?? I am all for promoting healthy eating and healthy living.He also had cake cutting at home on the evening of his birthday, for which I made a small number cake for him. He had a ball at all three celebrations!!
Coming back to this train cake, I have never made a 3-D object cake apart from the Princess cake and the Tinkerbell cake that is! I felt a little more adventurous and decided to make a cake of something that he likes. It was only fair that I go to as much trouble for him as I did with the Princess cake for his sister! Now I could not decide whether to make a car cake, a fire truck or a train???Those are all his favorite toys! I decided to ask him. His prompt response was "Shawn"! Shawn is an educational train created by coilbook. My son just loves watching Shawn!! He could watch Shawn all day long! While most children would want Thomas, my son wanted Shawn! This was reiterated by his sister. I looked up online for ideas. There were plenty of Thomas cakes out there, but no Shawn!!:( I then looked up general train cake ideas, and improvised from there. The one that helped me the most is the Betty Crocker site that had this train cake.
For convenience, I used boxed cake mixes instead of making the cake batter from scratch. I didn't want to figure out everything for fear that something may go wrong! Since I had no idea how big the cake was going to be, i didn't have any cake board ready before hand. In my mind, I knew how the cake was going to look. I knew there would be a train track, there would be an engine car and a few cars. I didn't know how many cars I would be making as I didn't know how much of the cake loaf would be needed for the engine! I made the face of the engine using a tomato paste can. That was an adventure by itself! Once I had the engine figured out,I had enough of the loaf left to make 4 cars. But I needed the cake board first! Since the cake was long and heavy, the board too had to be big and sturdy! I made the base for the cake by wrapping up a wire rack with aluminum foil! As per the size of my cake board, I decided to make only 3 train cars as that was all that would fit on the cake board. The end result was good. My baby identifying the train by crying out "Shawn" , "Shawn" when I placed the train on the table and him ( the naughty one) not touching it or messing it up was testimony for my work!! He wouldn't even let me cut it to serve the guests!!!
I am going to share this cake with my wonderful friends at Fiesta Friday!This week there are two new co-hosts: Michelle@Giraffes Can Bake, whose easy recipes are an inspiration for even a novice baker like me to bake; and MB @ Bourbon and Brown Sugar, whose recipes I love.
Servings: 12-16 people
Chocolate cake mix: 1 box
Yellow cake mix: 1 box
Eggs: 6 large
Oil:1/2 cup+ 1/2 cup
Water: 1 cup + 1 cup
Vanilla Buttercream frosting: 3 cups.
Chocolate buttercream frosting: 3-4 cups.
Ready-to-roll fondant: 2 colors ( I used red and green).
Oreo cookies: 13 nos
Pretzel sticks: 1 cup
M & Ms: 2 small packets
Chocolate animal crackers: 1 cup
Mott's fruit bites: 2 packets
Reese's peanut butter cups: 2 nos
Malt balls: 2 nos
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease two 9x5 loaf pans and a 6 oz tomato paste can with its outer paper covering removed and the can greased.
Prepare the chocolate cake batter as per the instructions on the box. Pour a little batter into the prepared can until 2/3 rds full and the rest into one of the loaf pans.
Prepare the yellow cake batter a per the instructions on the box. Pour the batter into the other loaf pan.
Place the loaf pans on the center rack of the oven and bake or 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.
Place the tomato cake also on the center rack towards the last 10 mins of the loaf cake time. It takes around 10 mins to bake the cake in it.Again, test for doneness using the toothpick .I kept checking several times to make sure that it does not get burnt as I was not sure how much time it would take.
When done, take the cakes out of the oven and let them cool down in the pan for 10 mins before taking the cake out.
Then, take the cake out and let it cool down on the cooling rack until completely cooled.
With a serrated knife or a cake leveler, take the domes off the cakes and level the cakes. Make sure to take the dome off the cylinder cake too that was baked in the can.
Making the engine car:
Cut 2/3 rds the length of the chocolate loaf cake half way through it's thickness. Keep that piece aside.
Place the cylindrical cake on the cut portion of the loaf cake as shown in the picture. Use some icing to keep them together like glue. Take a piece of the dome and glue it to the back of the loaf cake to make the roof of the engine car.
Frost the engine cake using chocolate butter cream frosting. Keep it in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
The other train cars:
Cut the yellow loaf cake into three equal parts.
Frost it with vanilla buttercream. I did one with chocolate buttercream.
Now place the cars in the fridge too for 2-3 hours.
Assembling the train and the track:
In the mean time get the cake board ready. You could either cover a piece of wood or sturdy cardboard with foil. I didn't have either so I used my cooling rack! I covered it with foil and kept ready.
I then added red and blue gel colors to my remaining chocolate frosting and changed it to blackish grey color. I filled a piping bag and attached Wilton Tip# 5 and piped out the train track over the cake board.
I then rolled out red fondant and covered both the engine and one car with it.
I rolled out the green fondant and covered the other two cars with it.
I attached open face Oreo cookie to the front of the engine to make the face. Using Witon Tip # 3 I piped out the face of Shawn, made the roof and windows of the engine car and the sidings of the other cars.
Everything on the cake was edible. I attached all the parts to the train using icing as glue.
I placed Oreo cookies for the wheels of the train, Reese's peanut butter cups for the smoke stack, malt balls for the headlights.
I used pretzel sticks to make the car sidings.
I made one car animal car using chocolate animal crackers, one car colorful rock car using peanut M & Ms and the last car was the fruit car filled with Mott's fruit bites. Using fondant, I made number 3 and stuck it to the back of the last car.
I rolled out some fondant to make the lawn and royal icing flowers to provide some accent. I piped "Happy 3rd Birthday Amogh" with the remaining greyish black icing.
Voila! Shawn was ready to chug down the track!
I am truly happy that I did it! I think I came pretty close to the original Shawn!
It was not as hard as I thought it would be. Of course, it would have been nicer if I could have had more time to make it in a leisurely fashion!! I could also have done a neater job!
Do try it if you get a chance!
Cooking make easy:
In a pinch, you could use store bought frosting for crumb coating the cake like I did. I used a combination of store-bought and home-made. I had home-made buttercream frosting while I used the store-bought chocolate frosting as I didn't have enough time to make it.
If you are using it to frost the cake entirely make sure you whip it well adding a teaspoon of cornstarch and icing sugar alternately until you get the required medium consistency. This can be checked by inserting the spatula into the middle of the frosting. If the spatula stays upright, then the frosting is of the right consistency. If it falls to one side, then the frosting is too thin!
The best cake for shaping is the pound cake as it is more sturdy.You could also just bring a store-bought pound cake and then shape it!
Tip for healthy living:
Being that it is for kids, I have made everything on the cake edible and tried to make it as healthy as possible . That is why I didn't layer the cars and fill it with icing. I also filled the cars with healthy fare like animal crackers an fruit bites! Avoid giving little children too much sugar. It apparently makes them hyperactive.
Food for thought:
Bring ideas in and entertain them royally, for one of them may be the king. Mark Van Doren