The ideal birthday cake for that little boy in the family. Henry is one of Thomas the Tank Engine's friends. A delicious combination of buttery madeira cake and chocolate mud cake iced with plastic icing and trimmed with licorice and confectionery, this birthday cake is sure to delight the children and the adults!


  • For the engine:

  • 1 Madiera cake (baked in a 20 cm round loaf tin)

  • 1 Madiera cake (baked in a 20 cm X10 cm rectangle tin)

  • 1 chocolate mud cake (baked in a large rectangle loaf tin)

  • For the tender (coal car):

  • 1 madiera cake (baked in a large rectangular loaf tin)

  • For decorating:

  • cake board covered with bright paper (10mm MDF board 40 cm X 45 cm)

  • strawberry jam (for sticking the plastic icing to cake)

  • uncooked spaghetti (4 sticks - to secure face & round tank)

  • 1 X 500 g white plastic icing (available from cake decorating suppliers)

  • 250 g modelling paste (available from cake decorating suppliers)

  • licorice (2 X 1 metre long straps available in supermarkets)

  • licorice pieces (chopped into little pieces to represent the coal)

  • small sugar coated chocolate lollies (red for wheels and yellow for lights)

  • royal icing

  • green food colour in paste or gel form

  • red food colour in paste or gel form

  • black food colour in paste or gel form

  • You will also need an icing bag and no 4 nozzle


  • 1.

    To make the cake:

  • 2.

    Assemble the cake at least 24 hours before the party to allow everyting to dry.

  • 3.

    Everything you use must be edible. Model Henry's face in grey coloured sugar modelling paste with little pieces of black for his eyebrows and eyeballs. Prepare the face a couple of days in advance so it sets. You can buy black modelling paste already made or use colour paste/gel to colour. Insert two sticks of spaghetti 6 cms long into the back of the face which will then hold the face into the cake. Glue with a little royal icing on the tip before inserting into the back of the face. (Henry's face is easily found on the web with a google search)

  • 4.

    Colour the rest of the modelling paste green to make the wheels. You will need 12. Roll out the paste and cut with a 6 cm round cutter. Make an indent with a 3 cm cutter in each. Leave these to dry on some baking paper. They will set quite hard and be easy to use the next day. you will also need a little black steam stack and a small green dome for the top of the engine. Use black modelling paste for the curved roof and windows. For the roof, cut to size and lay on a jar or vase to get the curved shape.

  • 5.

    Prepare board by covering with birthday paper. Set aside.

  • 6.

    Mix and bake cakes and allow to cool. You can bake ahead of assembly time and freeze. Wrap well in plastic wrap and then in alfoil for freezing. Allow to thaw to room temperature before cake assembly and icing.

  • 7.

    Colour the plastic icing green by kneading green food colour through until even. To avoid sticking sprinkle pure icing sugar on the bench while kneading. Use paste colours rather than the liquid food colours. If you have a toy Henry engine, you can mix to match the colour. ( I used green, a very small amount of blue and just a couple of dots of black to get the desired colour.) Make sure you store this in an airtight container while doing other things.

  • 8.

    Colour the royal icing the same as the cake and keep covered until use.

  • 9.

    Warm the jam so that it is easily brushed over the cake surface. Roll out the plastic icing to 4mm thickness and, following the picture, cover each section of the engine and tender. Stick the iced cake to the board using royal icing. Start with the engine base (1 of the madeira rectangles). Glue this to the board with royal icing. Cover with green plastic icing and trim away excess. Next cover the the round part of the engine with the green plastic icing. This is where you use the round loaf. Use 3 sticks of spaghetti to hold the green plastic icing covered log from rolling. Use a section of the mud cake to make the back upright part of the engine. Cover with icing and glue on to other engine parts with green royal icing.

  • 10.

    Cover the tender (the coal car in the same way) and place on the cake board.

  • 11.

    Decorate the cake as shown in the pictures. Cut a number cut from modelling paste for the year. (Henry's number is 3 but you can use 'cook's license' and use whatever number you like)

  • 12.

    Use the green royal icing for the assembly - to glue the licorice trim, the wheels and the lolly centres. Use the small licorice pieces for the coal on top of the tender. Finally, use some red coloured royal icing to pipe lines on the engine and tender.

  • 13.

    Assemble on the hight before it is due to be served at the birthday party.


Specialist cake decorating shops sell the things you'll need to make the cake. You need to use firm cakes as the plastic icing can be too heavy for sponges. Use buttercake, white chocolate mud cake, carrot cake, orange poppyseed cake or fruit cake as alternatives. Do not store cakes iced with plastic icing in the fridge. The cake icing will become wet and sticky. Keep the cake at room temperature for the best results.

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