My daughter will turn eleven this month, and she finally made herself the unicorn cake of her dreams (that she’s been talking about for months)! I could not believe the response we got when I posted her creation on Instagram—my most popular IG post of all time, by far!—so I decided to share all the details here on the blog for those not on social media, and also so I could link to all the supplies and recipes she used to make it.
Trying to make it “REAL”
When my daughter first came to me about this cake she was requesting some supplies that A) sounded difficult to acquire/make and B) did not sound like “real” food! The last thing I wanted to do was track down marshmallow fondant, gold dust, or something equally unusual that I would not even want anyone to eat! So I told her if we were going to do this we were going to make a food-coloring/dye-free unicorn cake that was as close to real as possible.
She wanted it to be a multi-layer round cake to include homemade “funfetti” (i.e. yellow or vanilla cake with sprinkles mixed in). So we modified one of my cake recipes to make that happen, and let me tell you what … the outcome was just as tasty as it looks! The finished product is of course not 100% REAL, because of the refined sugar and white flour, but it was completely made from scratch using only natural food dyes (and even some whole-wheat flour). And I am okay with bending the rules a little when we’re celebrating one of our birthdays!
Supplies and Recipes for a Natural Unicorn Cake
Here’s how she did it…
- Unicorn Ears/Horn
Homemade unicorn horns look super hard to make for non-professional bakers like us and use ingredients I would not want to eat. So why waste the time and money? Thanks to a tip from our neighbor, we perused Amazon for foam toppers and ended up choosing this unicorn birthday cake topper set, which worked out perfectly.
- Homemade Funfetti (for the yellow cake layer)
As I mentioned, my daughter wanted “funfetti” cake, which is normally a highly processed boxed cake mix full of artificially dyed sprinkles. No, thank you! So we ordered a big bottle of dye-free sprinkles and combined it with my yellow cake recipe that’s on the blog for a DIY version. She didn’t put them all in the batter so she could save some to sprinkle on top.
- Natural Food Dyes (for the frosting)
I recently discovered—and have been loving—the new natural food dyes by McCormick (not a sponsor, just like this product). It’s much better, in my opinion, than the India Tree ones, which come in little squeeze bottles and are rather pale. The McCormick ones are little packets of powder and work great without changing the flavor of the icing. She made pink, blue and purple by starting with my frosting recipe on the blog (without the optional beet juice). She made three batches of the frosting – two for the 3-layer cake, and one for the flowers. To color the flowers she divided it into three bowls and mixed the berry color into one, the sky blue color into another, and then both the berry & sky blue (for the purple) into the third bowl.
- Chocolate Layer and Cake Pans
I have two 9″ cake pans so she first made the yellow cake recipe mentioned above in the two pans (she even remembered to trace and cut out pieces of parchment for the bottom of the pans to make it easy to get out). And then she made a half recipe of my yummy chocolate cake recipe on the blog in just one of the pans for the middle layer.
- Cake Platter
A cake platter is always a nice touch for any homemade baked good! We use ours all the time, and here’s a similar cake platter I found online.
- Frosting Bags/Tips (for the flowers)
We own an inexpensive set of piping tips and disposable piping bags, and while we don’t use them often, there’s really no other way to decorate a cake with flowers and such! One trick we’ve learned is to put the tip into the bag (after cutting off the corner), lower it into a drinking glass, and fold the top edges of the bag over the glass before dropping in the frosting. Easiest and least messy way to do it for sure! To make the flowers themselves just takes a bit of practice.
- Turntable (to help with frosting)
She actually did something I’ve never thought to do before. She cleared off a little turntable we have with condiments on it in our pantry and put her cake platter on top to aid her with the frosting. It did look like it made things easier to just spin it around as she went! Smart girl :)
And here is my sweet girl hard at work cake decorating. I am so proud of her for making this, even though I don’t think she’s ever even baked a cake by herself before! She helps me a lot in the kitchen and makes dinner on occasion, but I’d say she did pretty darn good for her first solo birthday cake experience. The best part was seeing how happy it made her to have the cake of her dreams. :)
Has anyone else attempted a unicorn cake at their house? It clearly is all the rage right now (if you have daughters)!