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How to make a train cake

What you'll need

For assembly
10 cups basic butter icing (see recipe below)
Blue, yellow and red food colouring
1 Swiss roll
3 batches basic sponge cake batter, baked in 28cm loaf tins (see instructions below)

2 squares guava fruit roll, for windows
3 Kit Kat chocolates, snapped into fingers for the train tracks
4 Oreo biscuits, for the big front wheels
8 small chocolate biscuits, for the wheels on the carriages
Colourful wrapped sweets, for cargo on the yellow carriage
1 ice cream cone with the bottom trimmed off
4-5 marshmallows, sliced, to make the steam
2 wafer roll biscuits, for the steam vents on the red caboose
2 cups (500ml) desiccated coconut mixed with ½ tsp (3ml) green powdered colouring, for the grass
Plastic farm animals (optional)

Tools of the trade:
Piping bag and nozzles
Palette knife
Spring-form loose-bottomed pan
Plastic spatula
Electric hand beater

Basic sponge cake recipe

Ingredients and Method

Makes a 21cm round cake

2 3/4 cups (340g) self-raising flour
1 ½ cups (290g) castor sugar
1 cup (250g) butter
5 large eggs
3 Tbsp (45ml) milk

1. Preheat oven to 150°C.
2. Grease and line a 21cm round spring-form cake tin.   
3. Sieve flour into a large mixing bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and mix with an electric beater on a slow speed until well blended. Increase the speed to high and mix for 2 more minutes. The batter should be thick and smooth.   
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
5. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool before removing from tin.

Basic butter icing recipe

Ingredients and Method

Makes about 5 cups of icing 

1½ cups (375g) butter, softened
1 Tbsp (15ml) vanilla essence
4 cups (750g) icing sugar, sifted
2-3 Tbsp (30-45ml) warm water

Beat butter and vanilla with electric mixer until creamy.
Add icing sugar gradually, mixing in a little water if it becomes dry. Once the icing is thick and fluffy it is ready to be coloured and used.

To make the front blue section of train

1. Make the train engine by taking a quarter of the Swiss roll and a quarter of a loaf cake and securing them to a board with a little icing – the loaf cake should be placed upright.
2. Smooth over a thin layer of blue icing and leave to dry, then ice with remaining blue icing.
3. Trim the remaining loaf cakes into squares to make carriages.
4. Secure the carriages to board with a little icing, then ice as you did for the engine, using red icing for one carriage and yellow for the other.  
5. Place Kit Kats on board alongside train to form tracks.
6. Attach the biscuit wheels to the train with small blobs of icing.
7. Stuff sliced marshmallows into the ice cream cone and press cone into the Swiss roll to form the chimney.
8. Top the yellow carriage with sweets, and insert two wafer biscuits vertically into the top of the red carriage.
9. Wipe down the board and decorate it with desiccated coconut and plastic farm animals.


  • Apply a thin layer of icing to your cake and let it set. This ‘crumb layer’ or ‘dirty icing’ will trap crumbs and prevent them from getting into the next layer of icing.
  • Heat a palette knife or large butter knife in a cup of boiling water, dry the knife and use to smooth icing over cake.
  • Place a blob of icing under cake to secure it to a board or platter - when it dries it will stick the cake to the board.

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