This was my first birthday cake request for a three-year old boy who loves trains, really loves trains, and dinosaurs, snakes, spiders, and also something of the regular favourites for kids, Peppa pig. So, these became the building blocks for his cake.
The cake was going to be covered in fondant because I thought it would give a better, cleaner and neat finish. Then I wasn’t sure which cake to use for the base. As fondant is heavy, it is usually used on a denser cake type, but since I personally prefer the sponge cake, less rich, would probably pair well with buttercream and fondant. There is a risk that it may not hold because it is a very soft and fluffy cake providing little structural support. On the other hand, the train engine and carriages are small, so maybe it will just work. And it did after all 🙂
Here is the planning. I felt like I was back in some geometry class at high school. Didn’t expect so much maths in baking 😉
I made fondant dinosaurs, ducks, Peppa pig and George a couple of days ahead to allow them to dry well.
Then I made three batches of my regular sponge recipes, coloured two of them orange (orange extract) and green (pandan extract). Then I cut the cake layers to match the pre-planned sizes for the engine and three carriages. I ended up with lots of little pieces. This can be done the night before. Just wrap all the pieces well and refrigerate to prevent drying. I used chocolate buttercream between the layers to glue them together as well as for crumb coat. After I got all the engine and carriages into shape and covered in buttercream, I refrigerated them till they firm up before I covered them in fondant with different colours.
This is actually where the fun began – the assembly. I felt a sense of relief when I finally started to lay the train tracks on the cake board, and put the engines and the carriages on them – it was about 1am by that time. Then what was left was the small details especially on the engine itself, such as the window, the stripes, etc… The wheels, especially took me almost 1 hour to do, and there were only 18 wheels in total, but that needed 36 circles in red and yellow, 72 little green strips to create the effects and a pink dot in the centre of each wheel making it looking more complete and realistic.
Then next day, I finished up with adding “soil/pebbles” on the track (which I made from blended yellow macaron shells left over from making Candy Cat macarons), added the blue pond with m&m “pebbles” around the pond and glue the ducks on. I glued on the dinousaurs on the first carriage, Peppa and George on the last and Peppa Pig and Candy Cat macarons, filled with chocolate ganache and passionfruit buttercream respectively, on the middle carriage. I was told he loves macarons and Peppa pig, so I made him Peppa Pig macaron 🙂 Also, he loves snakes. I added the snake to the board at the last minute – I think my snake looks more like a worm ^.^
Spending every night for a week to finish this cake makes the week seem to goes on forever, but when I looked at the finished cake, suddenly those nights didn’t seem long at all. Most important of all, the birthday boy loved it and so did his family and friends! The best comment I got for the cake was ” cakes that look this good don’t normally taste this good”. I am officially over the moon!!!