In this post I will show you how to make these Train Themed Birthday Party Cakes with step-by step instructions and photos. As mentioned in my prior posts, I organized a Train Themed Birthday Party for Eric’s first birthday. You can check out my other two posts from this series:
- Finger Foods, Snacks and Drinks
- Party Supplies and DIY Decorations
Train Themed Birthday Party Cakes – How to Make a Train Cake
Cake Boards for the Train Cars & Locomotive:
- wood plaques:
- 3 rectangles, size: 14 cm x 9.4 cm x 0.5 cm (5.5″ x 3.7″ x 0.2”)
- 1 square, size: 9.5 cm x 9.5 cm x 0.5 cm (3.7″ x 3.7″ x 0.2”)
- square wood blocks, size: 2 cm (0.75’’)
- a glue gun
- press’n seal wrap
You can buy these supplies at any local arts & crafts store. I bought them from Michaels in Canada.
For a 12’’ (30 cm) x 12’’ (30 cm) square pan:
- 12 large eggs
- 4 Tbsp oil
- 400 g sugar
- 400 g cake flour, sifted
- 4 Tbsp vanilla extract
Sugar Syrup to Moisten the Cake:
- 300 ml water
- 7 Tbsp sugar
- 3-4 Tbsp vanilla extract
Raspberry Cream Cheese Buttercream Filling:
- 375 g (1.5 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 550 g (5 cups) powdered sugar
- 500 g cream cheese, at room temperature
- 100 g (1/3 cup) seedless raspberry jam
- 2 Tbsp lukewarm water
- Red food colouring paste – I use Wilton (optional)
- 1.5 cup fresh raspberries (optional)
Ganache and Fondant for Covering the Cake:
- crumb coat the cake using unwhipped chocolate ganache / firm frosting made out of 600 g semisweet chocolate and 300 ml whipping cream; if you don’t know how to make chocolate ganache, check out my Chocolate Ganache Ratios post
- 450 g (1 lb) black fondant
- 1.8 kg (4 lbs) red fondant
- a bit of white fondant, coloured in purple using red and blue gel food colouring; this will be used to make the windows and the engine’s smokebox
- Upper Case Funky Alphabet and Number Tappit Cutters
- Clay/fondant extruder
- 2.5 cm (1’’) circle cutter
- 3.2 cm (1.25’’) circle cutter
- A small paint brush
- Other fondant tools: fondant smoother (or palm of your hands), fondant rolling pin, X-Acto knife or any other sharp knife with a thin blade, small 9-inch fondant rolling pin for making the smaller fondant decorations
Making the Cake Boards for the Train Cars & Locomotive
Use a glue gun to attach four square wood blocks to each wood plaque as seen in the picture below.
To create a barrier between the cake and the wood plaques, cover the boards with press’n seal wrap.
Making the Cake
Use the ingredients listed above and follow the step-by-step instructions in this other post to bake the cake.
Let the cake cool off and cut it into:
- 3 rectangles, size: 14 cm x 9.4 cm (5.5″ x 3.7″)
- 1 square, size: 9.5 cm x 9.5 cm x 0.5 cm (3.7″ x 3.7”)
Cut each of them horizontally in two using a serrated knife. From the remaining cake scraps you will build the top of the locomotive with the engine, driver’s compartment and smokebox.
Make your sugar syrup by boiling the water with the sugar and adding the vanilla extract at the end. Let it cool off.
Making the Filling
Make the raspberry cream cheese buttercream following the steps in this recipe.
Making the Ganache
Make this at least 4 hours before you are ready to assemble the cake as it needs to cool off and have a thick pouring consistency before covering the cakes.
Assembling the Train Cake
Spread some filling on your wooden cake board and place the first cake layer on top. Moisten it with sugar syrup and spread raspberry cream cheese buttercream filling on top. Add a layer of fresh raspberries and place the second cake layer on top.
Repeat the steps to fill each cake to make the three trains cars and locomotive.
For the locomotive, start building up the engine, driver’s compartment and smokebox using the remaining cake scraps. Use a serrated knife to carve it and give it the shape below.
Tip: If you feel like it’s not easy to carve as the cake layers break, place the locomotive, covered with plastic wrap, in the freezer for 1-2 hours. That should harden the filling and cake layers and should make it easier to carve without it falling apart.
Crumb coat the cakes with a thin layer of the ganache. Refrigerate them for 1-2 hours.
Covering the Train Cake with Fondant
Dust your working surface with some powdered sugar or cornstarch. Knead the red fondant until it has a workable consistency and it doesn’t feel and look dry.
Roll the red fondant in rectangles that are about 36 cm x 30 cm (14’’ x 12’’) for the bigger train cars and 30 cm x 30 cm (12’’ x 12’’) for the small train car. The fondant should be rolled ~3.5 mm ( 1/8 inches) thick.
Gently lift fondant over rolling pin and place it on the side of the cake. Start unrolling the fondant from the side of the cake and across the top to the other side.
Smooth the fondant with a fondant smoother (or the palm of your hand) starting from the top. Start to gently pull the fondant out and down around the sides of the cake using one hand and spread the excess fondant and smooth it out using a fondant smoother (or your other hand).
Keep turning the cake and repeating these steps until the sides are smooth and without any ruffles formed towards the bottom. It’s better if you use a fondant smoother since the pressure of your hands could leave marks and the warmth from your hands might make the fondant sticky.
Use your fondant smoother to get rid of any wrinkles and air bubbles as well. If you see any air bubbles, insert a pin on an angle, release the air and smooth the area again.
Trim the edges at the bottom using an X-Acto knife, a pizza cutter or any other sharp knife you have.
To cover the locomotive with fondant you can either roll a bigger piece of red fondant than for your bigger train car or you can make 3 panels – 2 for the sides and 1 for the front. Use the same steps above to cover the locomotive with fondant, smooth our the fondant and cut the excess.
Then, roll black fondant to create a panel for the top & back and one for the front of the locomotive. Cover the cake with some plastic foil while you work on the black panels. This will prevent your red fondant from drying out in case you need to cut more of it, straighten your edges etc. when you place the black fondant on.
You can use a string or measuring tape to measure your cake sides and see exactly the size of the panels you need to make. The edges, even if they are imperfect, will be covered with a black fondant border so they won’t be visible.
Cover the smokebox with purple fondant.
Making the Fondant Decorations
Use a clay/fondant extruder, fitted with the round disc, to make thin ropes out of black fondant. Extruders work best with soft fondant so make sure you knead it well before.
You will use these to make some edges on the locomotive as well as to decorate the smokehouse and front of the locomotive.
Brush a bit of water where you want to place the fondant ropes to ensure they stick to the cake properly.
Roll purple fondant to make the locomotive windows.
Roll black fondant and cut thin strips to make the extra decorations & edges for the train cars.
Attach all the fondant decorations to the cakes using some water.
Use the Upper Case & Number Tappit Cutters to make the letters of your kid’s name (e.g. ERIC) and age (1) out of black fondant.
Roll out black fondant about 6 mm (1/4’’) thick to make the wheels. Cut circles using the 3.2 cm (1.25’’) circle cutter. Then, use the smaller 2.5 cm (1’’) circle cutterto mark a circle on each wheel as seen in the picture.
Place your cake on a cake board. Then, brush some water on each square wood block and attach the wheels.
Train Themed Birthday Party Cakes – How to Make a Train Smash Cake
I made a 5’’ Smash Cake using the same vanilla cake and raspberry cream cheese buttercream recipes. You just need to reduce the ingredients – e.g. make the cake out of 4 eggs, use about 300 g of cream cheese buttercream and some fresh raspberries for the filling. Also, use about 150-200 g unwhipped chocolate ganache / firm frosting to crumb coat the cake.
You can also watch this video tutorial to see how to stack and cover a cake with ganache and achieve perfect straight edges.
Then, cover the cake with purple fondant.
To achieve the wood look on the cake you need a tree bark fondant impression mat. After you covered the cake with fondant, gently press the tree bark fondant impression mat onto the fondant to give it the wood effect.
Attach all the fondant decorations to the cakes using some water.
I hope you found this Train Themed Birthday Party Cakes post useful. Leave a comment below if you have any questions.
This post contains Amazon.com affiliate links.
Also create train tracks by trimming chocolate wafer fingers to fit into the spaces between each cake and attaching them to the board with a small bit of royal icing. For the train's engine, stick a miniature chocolate biscuit to a larger one, then attach this to the nose of the tank with some royal icing.How do you use a train cake pan? ›
Prepare pan using Cake Release or shortening and flour. Pour batter into the prepared pan, overfilling front of pan. Assemble and tie the pan together with twine. Bake and cool according to package directions.What to use for train tracks on a cake? ›
Adding Train Tracks to the Cake
As I shopped at the grocery store, I considered a number of different items to use as the railroad ties, including pretzel sticks and KitKats, but when I found the Handi-Snacks Oreo Cookie Sticks, I knew they would be perfect because they were nice and wide, but also quite flat.
Breads, cakes, cookies, and nearly all baked goods require a leavening agent. These are the key ingredients that make a cake rise. There are two types of leavening agents, chemical (baking soda and baking powder) and biological (yeast).
Securely Stacking Your Cakes with a Central Dowel
Hands down the most secure and sturdy method to stack your tiers is by first dowelling each individual tier (except the top one of course). These tiers are then built around a central dowel construction which holds all the tiers in place.
Railroad tracks are very solid chunks of steel. So what kind of steel are railroad tracks made of? Railroad track steel is typically 1084 or equivalent hot rolled steel. This is a medium carbon steel with 0.7% to 0.8% carbon and 0.7% to 1% manganese.Do you spray the pan for cake? ›
Some bakers report that cooking sprays leave residue that builds up and stains their pans over time. If your recipe specifically calls for misting the cake pan, then do so, but otherwise spraying a pan cannot replace greasing and flouring.What is the difference between a cake pan and a tube pan? ›
Confused about cake pans? Here is the lowdown: A tube pan is any type of round baking pan that has a hollow tube in its center. The tube conducts heat, which helps large, deep cakes bake faster, and it also helps the cake release more easily from the pan after it has been baked.How to do a cake walk for kids? ›
As the music plays, everyone walks around the circle, stepping from one numbered circle to another (or walking in between them). As soon as the music stops, everyone stands on the number he or she is closest to. Then draw a number, read it out, and the person standing on that number gets a cake! Hooray!