How to make a Thomas the Tank Engine novelty birthday cake

Updated April 17, 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine is popular with many youngsters. If your child is a fan, then a Thomas birthday cake can be a highlight of his birthday party. You can simply decorate any cake with a little Thomas the Tank Engine toy, or ice it in the traditional blue colour, but to really make your child's day, you should try your hand at a three-dimensional novelty cake in the shape of Thomas, complete with his smiling face on the front. This is quite challenging so take plenty of photos of the finished product and the cutting of the cake.

Find a good picture of Thomas the Tank Engine, either from one of your children’s books or from the Internet, as you will use this for a reference for colours and shapes.

Make or buy your favourite slab cake and a Swiss roll. These are the basic building blocks with slab cake being used as the base and the cabin, with the Swiss roll sitting on top of the base to form the engine part of Thomas. Wrap the cakes in wax paper and then plastic wrap to freeze them as this makes it easier to sculpt them. Wrap tightly to prevent freezer burn and freeze for a couple of hours.

Cut the slab and arrange your three basic pieces on the cake board. You may only need half to three-quarter of the length of the Swiss roll, depending on how big a final cake you want. Keep the offcuts. Use offcuts to make the smokestack on top of the Swiss roll and the smaller whistle behind it.

Frost the entire cake with buttercream icing to hold all the crumbs together before you apply your coloured topping. Mix your coloured icing and use a piping bag to place it. After you have filled an area, smooth a spatula over the piped icing. Do the blue areas first and then the black, using your picture as a reference. Pipe the red areas and add a number “1” on the side in yellow.

Colour in your Thomas face if it is not already in colour, and use buttercream to stick it to the front of the engine. Pipe some railway tracks on the cake board in front of the engine.


You can make the face out of fondant, but this is very time consuming and should be made a day earlier.


It can take several hours to decorate the cake and get it right, so give yourself plenty of time to avoid tears.

Things You'll Need

  • Slab cake
  • Swiss roll
  • Wax paper
  • Cling wrap
  • Buttercream icing
  • Cake decorating spatulas
  • Food colours in blue, black, red and yellow
  • Piping bags and tips
  • Prepared cake board
  • Printed Thomas the Tank Engine face
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