Percy the #6 Engine

This past weekend, we celebrated BB’s 6th birthday. Since he has a summer birthday, we have always hosted party in our back yard and provide a slew of water related activities for the kids to enjoy. I won’t lie, its a lot of work and I tried everything to get him to choose something different this year. He had to have it.

This year it was about 100 degrees, but we had 3 pools, a bouncy water slide, and water guns. The kids had a BLAST. The parents…melted. It was great.

I’m not big on throwing “themed” parties, but I do enjoy making a special cake for the kids parties. So every year BB chooses a cake design and I make it for him. Starting from age 3 he chose:

IMG_8635
Age 3: Henry, the #3 Engine
Gordon the Tank Engine
Age 4: Gordon, the #4 Engine
Age 5: James, #5 Engine
Age 5: James, #5 Engine

You see where this is going. When the time came to select this year’s cake, you can imagine my (lack of) surprise when he announced that I would be making PERCY the #6 Engine.

Now, don’t get me wrong, those Wilton cake pan trains are a lot of work, and there’s some creativity involved, but I was getting tired of making the same darn cake every year. I’d seen plenty of custom train cakes and, “how hard could it be?”. So off to the internet I went, in search of an alternative idea.  I found a few different tutorials and blog posts from others about their experiences and picked up a few tips and tricks. I got to work on the “design”.

I really wanted to get the proportions right, because nothing kills a cool looking cake like wonky proportions. I drew up the design using sketch up and added a few dimensions to use for reference. It seemed straight forward enough: (4) 2″ layers, each 9×13.

IMG_2207

Somehow it never occurred to me that my 9×13 pan would yield something smaller. Once I baked the cakes, I discovered that each layer was actually shorter by about an inch, and thinner by at least 1/2 inch.

Duh.

But too late now, so I do like Tim Gunn and Make it Work!

The cake stack. Piled up, frozen, and ready to be carved!
The cake stack. Piled up, frozen, and ready to be carved!

 

I used a sharp knife to carve out the boiler and the cab. Somewhere in here I started to wonder, "why the hell did I think this was a good idea!"
I used a sharp knife to carve out the boiler and the cab. Somewhere in here I started to wonder, “why the hell did I think this was a good idea!” The cab has a definite lean to one side, but hey- we’ll say he’s making a fast turn…

 

Got the crumb coat on, and feeling better!
Got the crumb coat on, and feeling better!

 

Let the decorating begin! I started with the green frosting.
Let the decorating begin! I started with the green frosting, then black. For the field areas I just used a spatula to spread the icing (mostly) smooth. I used a piping bag for all the details.

 

Next I got the details on. Stripes, windows, whistle, number.
Next I got the details on. Stripes, windows, whistle, number.

 

Next  needed a face. I used a tutorial I found here to make several different faces out of royal icing.  These were made a few days ahead of time (I sized them based on my drawing) I liked some of the smoother ones better, but BB chose one with big cheeks.
Next needed a face. I used a tutorial I found here to make several different faces out of royal icing. These were made a few days ahead of time (I sized them based on my drawing) I liked some of the smoother  ones (not shown) better, but BB chose one with big cheeks.
Finally, I "glued" the face on with some frosting, and added some eyes. The funnel is a pretzel rod that I just covered in frosting.
Finally, I “glued” the face on with some frosting, and added some eyes. The funnel is a pretzel rod that I just covered in frosting.

 

Here he is candled up and ready to go. BB decided that the candles should stick out of his sides, so he's a "transofrmer percy".
Here he is candled up and ready to go. BB decided that the candles should stick out of his sides, so he’s a “transformer percy”.
Here you can see his fast turn lean...
Here you can see his fast turn lean…

Even with all the planning, the proportions got wacky. The front buffer is huge, the wheels are almost all chopped off, and the rods are too skinny. Not to mention the whole thing leans to the side. But what the heck. Its a birthday cake and he loved it!

Percy CakeHAPPY BIRTHDAY, BB!

Percy Train Cake

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