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 😉 ). The most difficult thing is the unicorn, and if this troubles you – just buy one and stick it on top!
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 – so 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 – using 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.
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.
Now 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.
The 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.
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.
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)