I feel like my blog has been one big party this summer! We’ll get back to “regular meals” by the end of the week, I promise. But first, I have to share the story of The Great Train Cake.
The bar for first birthday cakes was set pretty high back with these Monkey Cakes of 2010. But of course we had to do something different for my youngest nephew. I am not sure who came up with the idea for a train cake first, but the project was planned with many Google searches, Pinterest surfing, sketches, and long lists on legal sized paper. But all the details aside, we had a lot of fun. Hop aboard for the full story, or scroll to the bottom just to see an adorable
baby toddler eating cake.
My Mom used Smitten Kitchen’s Best Yellow Layer Cake recipe, and multiplied it by 1.5 to yield a 13″x9″ cake and a 9″x5″ loaf pan. She baked another 13″x9″ cake using Hershey’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe. She used one half of Smitten Kitchen’s Two Layer Banana Cake recipe to yield another 9″x5″ loaf pan. You might be thinking that 1) that’s a lot of math; 2) that’s a lot of baking; and 3) why did they need 3 different types of cake? My Dad helped a bit with the math, my Mom did the baking over the course of 2 days and stored the layers in the freezer, and yes, we’re a little crazy and wanted some variety in the flavors.
First, we started with a cake board. It’s important to have a sturdy surface, especially since the cake must be stored in the refrigerator. We placed the 13″x9″ cakes side by side to form the base layer. The majority of the cake was frosted with Smitten Kitchen’s Vanilla Buttercream Frosting, but we used canned chocolate frosting for the engine. We colored the vanilla frosting in small bowls as we went along.
We coated the top and sides of the base layer with the vanilla frosting, and then piped on chocolate icing for the train tracks. The loaf pan of banana cake was cut to form an engine, using this Betty Crocker video as a guide. The loaf pan of vanilla cake was cut into thirds, to form 3 train cars. You’ll notice that only 2 of those train cars fit on the cake; sadly, one car had to be left behind in the station.
My Mom’s kitchen looked like a scene out of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. We had a lot of different ideas on what to use for wheels and other train decor. In the end, we used generic chocolate sandwich cookies for wheels. We used Twizzlers to outline the top of the train car. Other candy we used includes M&M’s, Junior Mints, and peach rings.
It was a hot August night, and the frosting was melting, so we put it in the refrigerator at this point. It just fit. The next day, we did some touch-up work with frosting, and added a “1”.
Finally, it was time to bring out the cake and serve it. We all sang “Happy Birthday” and he got some help blowing out the candle. Note that my sister removed the pieces of candy which could be a choking hazard before placing the engine in front of him.
All he wanted to do was stick his fingers in the frosting, which he decided he liked. I am not sure he even got to any cake!
The cake project was a lot of fun, and we’ll remember it for a long time!