My Train-Wreck attempt at a Birthday Cake

But it didn't cost $75!

Ever since our trip to Heritage Park, Little H has been completely obsessed with Thomas.  I mean, she always liked Thomas but that trip sealed the deal.

She really wanted a Thomas the Train cake for her birthday and had been eying the one in our local Calgary Co-op bakery where we grocery shop.  The day came for us to go in and order it and to our surprise, a Thomas the Train cake at Co-op is $75.  YES $75 !!

I refused to pay that for a cake for a three year old.  That’s extortion in my book!   I was pretty sure she’d be excited by any cake that was unveiled to her and I knew I could put something together that she would enjoy so I vowed to figure out how to make a Thomas birthday cake.

And then I realized I’m not that great at cake decorating.  Sure, the three year olds were impressed and yes, the adults commented that  it looked ‘great’ but it sure didn’t live up to the vision I had in my head when I started.

My printed letters were all wonky (I photo-shopped them out because I try not to use her name a lot here)  and I had jagged edges that I filled in with icing.  I didn’t have enough green icing to cover the bottom edge and I couldn’t fit the second train on.

BUT…little H loved that she got to help me bake it.  She poured in the eggs and the oil and helped to stir it.  And she also loved how it tasted.  I bet mine tasted better than that $75 one, hands down.

I’ll call it a win, even if it was a bit of a train wreck!  After candles, icing, the train and sprinkles I’m sure it only cost me around $35…maybe even less 🙂



  1. I know exactly what you mean. I made a seahorse cake for my son’s first birthday last year and it was a complete train wreck (no pun intended). You did much, much, much, much, better than I! Happy birthday to your Little H

    • A seahorse? I can see how that would be tricky!! Do you have a pic up…I’d love to see it, if only for selfish reasons 🙂

  2. I call it major win! It looks adorable, and you had fun baking it! She won’t be needed therapy in years to come because she had a Thomas cake made by her mother and it looked a little weird. Now you have time to practice for next year! 🙂

  3. I think that cake rocks and that was awesome you went the homemade route. I make every cake for birthdays and some come out better than others, but at least I try and they always taste great. LOL!

  4. I love that cake! You should see the horrid train cake I made my daughter when she turned 2. But the most important thing is that it is made with love. She saw Thomas and freaked out I bet!

  5. Looks good to me.

    I think a lot of times we have a vision of what we want it to look like, so we can’t see the quality of the results we do get.

    • It would be much easier if we could have ice cream cakes…especially in June. Alas, our little H is lactose intolerant and can’t eat ice cream 🙁 I wonder if any of the frozen yogurt places make cakes??

  6. If you google buttercream icing recipes they are super easy very tasty and very cheap and they make cake decorating much easier. I think you did a great job!!

    • I’ll have to remember that for next time…I used store bought Betty Crocker icing because I have no idea how to make my own!

  7. I think it looks fantastic! I LOVE homemade birthday cakes!!!!

    I bet Little H will remember it more since she got to help make it! That’s worth more than the money you invested in it…the time spent together creating something yummy!

    • I love having her help in the kitchen and she loves helping! It makes it about so much more than just the cake. It’s about spending time together and having fun.

  8. Wow, $75 is a lot for a child’s birthday cake. Your cake is awesome! Much better than what I would’ve made. My boys had a Thomas cake for their birthday. It was a big sheet cake and we paid less than $30 at our local grocery store. I was going to try and make one but I figured for that price it was worth letting them do.

    • see, that’s about what I expected to pay. That’s reasonable and yeah…at that price it’s worth it to save the time and just buy one!

  9. Um, that is AWE-some! You should see the total train wreck cakes I’ve paid money for. Your creation is ten times better AND you have the pride in knowing you made it just for your little one. I think it’s fabulous and you should be proud. Besides, if H loved it that is ALL that matters.

  10. Heather,

    I can totally relate. This year, Maddy wanted a “Prehistoric” Birthday. She is nutso about Sabertooths so I promised a Sabertooth cake. (What the hcek was I thinking?) I suck at all things creative and artsy.

    I made the cake in several rounds and squares, and used one of her drawings of a Sabertooth as the model. Ha! It turned out Awesome!!!!!! Totally surprised myself.

    By the way, yours looks great!


  11. $75?! Yikes! And I was complaining about the $35 for the cakes here. I’ll no longer complain. I think you did a fab job and as long as she’s happy that’s what matters.

  12. So I am way late to this party, lol. I googled Thomas cake since my soon to be 4 year old really wants one and I, like you, am not paying a rediculous amount of money for it.

    All in all, it was a great cake! I think that had you not run out of the greed it would have been perfect (from what I can see since you did photoshop the letters out). And I think this is what we are going to do. Only that I am not making the cake since I totally suck at anything but eating cake. We are going to buy a plain cake with his name on it and draw in the tracks and details ourselves then place some trains on them.

    Thanks for the inspiration!


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