Checkerboard Unicorn Cake Tutorial

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One of our best friends’ daughters was turning six recently.¬† I asked her what she wanted on her cake… and she said a unicorn.¬† So this is what we created for her birthday party.¬† It’s really simple.¬† Really simple!¬† But pretty effective.¬† Here is a step by step tutorial so you can recreate the cake.¬† It has a checkerboard effect when cut (which is not time consuming or difficult, though it appears both ūüėČ ).¬† The most difficult thing is the unicorn, and if this troubles you – just buy one and stick it on top!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cakes

You will need to bake two cakes.  They need to be firm cakes in order to not crumb up too much when you cut them into pieces.

The cakes will need to contrast with each other.¬† I have baked a plain vanilla cake twice – but in the second batter, I added red food colouring until the cake was suitably pink.¬† I have done this before with a chocolate cake and a vanilla cake which also worked really well.¬† The key is that the cakes need to be the same size, so if you’re using different recipes, make sure they fill the tins to the same level and cook any leftovers to eat separately.¬† You’ll lose some of the effect if the cakes are different sizes.¬† I used two tins for each cake, so ended up with four cakes.¬† You could also bake two cakes, and cut them in half.

Once you have your four cakes, that have been cooled, you need some circle cutters.  They will need to be sharp Рso you could cut the top and bottom out of a small tin (i.e. from tomato paste) and a large tin (i.e. from a large can of fruit).  I have circle cutters, so these are what you can see in the picture.  Cut every cake out the same way Рusing the small cutter and the large cutter.  Each cake will be in three pieces.

Interlace one colour next to the other.  So in the pictures you can see that some cakes go pink-white-pink, and others go white-pink-white.

 

icing

Next, mix up 2x buttercream icing and fill a piping bag (or a ziploc bag).  Snip off the end to leave about a 5mm gap so that the icing will flow out easily.  Pipe around the largest circle, and insert the next circle of cake.  Pipe around the top to fill in any gap.  Repeat with the inner circle.  Do this for all four cakes.

cake stackNow you’re ready to stack them.¬† Make sure you’ve got a nice firm surface.¬† If you don’t have a cake stand, you can use a cake board, or even a baking tray or piece of board covered in tinfoil.¬† You’re going to need to ensure you use contrasting layers.¬† So if the first layer is pink-vanilla-pink, the next must be vanilla-pink-vanilla.¬† Spread a layer of icing on the cake, and then repeat the steps above (as in picture below).¬† Do this until you have a tall stack of four cakes.

 

crumbThe next stage is called the crumb coat – a coat of icing that ‘catches’ any crumbs.¬† Using a palette knife or other flat knife, spread icing from the top of the cake down and around the sides.¬† It doesn’t have to be perfect as it will be hidden!¬† Try not to make it super sloping on top though.

 

icing this

Make another 2x buttercream icing.¬† Tint this lot of icing any colour you like – I tinted mine a pale peach colour. You will need a cake decorating nozzle that is shaped for rose petals – I’ve used a Wilton 104 with an icing syringe.¬† You can use another ziploc bag or piping bag with the nozzle if preferred.¬† Hold the piping bag or syringe at a 45 degree angle from the cake, fat side of the nozzle to the cake.¬† Squeeze the icing and move the bag or syringe back and forward approximately every 1 cm to create the effect on the sides of the cake.¬† Repeat as many times as required until it is all piped.¬† Then do this on the top of the cake, work towards the centre and make the size of the piping smaller as you go.¬† You do not have to be perfect about this, as you will end up smoothing a circle with a palette knife (see the last picture in this block).¬† Smooth the buttercream in the circle or create a linear pattern, ready for the unicorn to sit on.

We then cut out small flowers of fondant to place around the circle made by the palette knife.  You could use silver balls, or just leave the buttercream circle.

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Here is the cut cake.

 

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To start the pink unicorn you will need:

  • white fondant
  • red (or pink) coloring
  • a knife and clean work space (covered in baking paper)
  • some cornflour (stops the fondant sticking to your hands –¬† don’t use too much)

 

 

 

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Cut off a chunk of fondant, approximately a 1/4 of the block in size. Work in a small amount of coloring (a toothpick dot size if using red).

 

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Roll the pink fondant into a ball and divide (approximately two thirds) into the segments as pictured.

 

 

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Take a small amount of white fondant and a small amount of the pink fondant (from what’s left of the ball), and work together. This lighter pink will be used for the unicorn’s mane.

 

 

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Get some toothpicks. Shape the larger of the segments into a blunt cone and insert half a toothpick into the top.

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Shape two of the four leg segments into blunt cones and flatten the ends (gently press them down onto your work space).

 

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Attach the two shaped legs to the front of the unicorn’s body as pictured. You may need to brush a small amount of water to the back of the legs to get them to stick. Insert a blunted toothpick through the base of the unicorn’s body, to provide an anchor for the other legs. Shape two more legs and attach as pictured. Shape the back of the (horizontal) legs to taper round behind the unicorn’s body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shape the last segment into the unicorn’s head by rolling the segment into a ball, elongating, and flatten the end. Fix to the anchor and poke in the nostrils (with a tool or toothpick).

 

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To make the ears, take two small pieces of fondant, shape them into teardrops, and flatten the ends. Take a tool (or toothpick) and press a groove from the point of the ear; slightly pinch together to close the groove.

 

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To make the horn, take a small piece of white fondant, roll it out and divide into three segments that decrease in size. Press these together and gently roll into a cone (on a slight angle to get the spiral effect).

 

 

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Attach the ears using a very small amount of water, and the horn using a toothpick anchor. To make the mane, take small pieces of white fondant, roll them out, and layer them around the top of the head, horn, and down the back of the unicorn. Brush a small amount of water down the back, this can help the sections of mane stick.

 

 

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To make the unicorn shoes, roll two small balls of white fondant into rods that will curve approximately halfway around the feet. slightly flatten these and stick them onto the feet using small amount of water. Poke in the nail holes.

 

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To make the eyes, take two very small pieces of black (or brown) fondant and lightly roll these into balls. Poke two holes for the holes and press the balls down into the holes. Use the tip of a sharp knife to press in the eyelashes around the eyes. Add light dusting of lustre dust to the horn and face.

 

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Finished!

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For the bunting you will need: printed letters cut into triangles, various sheets of coloured card, double-sided tape (or glue stick), craft knife, two skewers, and string. Apply tape (or glue) to the back of the printed letters and stick these down onto the colored card. Cut out the letters leaving a border of card around the white background of the letter. Leave a larger section of card at the top of the triangle (this will provide the fixing for the flags).

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Take the skewers and string, drill a small hole through the flat ends of the skewers (approximately 5mm in from the end of the skewer). Thread the string through one of the skewers and tie it off. Once all the flags are fixed in place, thread the other end of the string through the second skewer and tie off.

 

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Use the drill bit (or a toothpick) to fold a channel into the section of card at the top of the flag (the string will pass through this channel). Fix the flags to the string, using tape to secure the backs. Press the skewers well down into the cake, either side of the unicorn, so that the bunting hangs down above the unicorns head. Insert some candles and you’re ready to go! Have fun!

 

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