The Unicorn Cake: Beginning My Cake Journey

When it is birthday season at our home, I have an opportunity to hone my cake decorating skills and believe me they need some work. Even though I am not a skilled decorator, I enjoy decorating cakes. I also enjoy how excited my kids get when they see me decorating a cake. Here is a little morsel of the tools and techniques I used to create my daughter’s birthday cake.

So as my oldest was turning 6 this year, I asked her what kind of cake she would like for her birthday. She said a unicorn, the now infamous unicorn cake! Luckily, there is a plethora of unicorn cakes on the internet with many videos and step by step instructions on how to get the job done. After reading many articles on Pinterest and watching many videos on You Tube, I developed my own plan to cook and decorate a unicorn cake. Everyone has a different approach for making the unicorn cake. I used a combination of techniques from different chefs and home cooks that I knew would work for me.

I came to the conclusion in order to successfully decorate any cake you really do need the right tools. Prior to my daughter’s birthday, I begin to accumulate the tools I needed to make the unicorn cake. Luckily, I found it is really not that expensive to purchase the necessary tools for cake decorating…..for the most part. I have highlighted some of the features that are specific to the unicorn cake and how I approached tackling the key characteristics.

This unicorn cake requires fondant. I used fondant for the eyes, nose, ears, and horn. I have made homemade fondant but making homemade fondant is quite a process and a large amount of fondant is not necessary for this cake. I purchased the small 4.4 oz package of Wilton Fondant in pink, white, and black on Amazon. Each package is about $3 so it does not break the bank. Here is a good opportunity to start your Amazon shopping cart.

Unicorn Mane

Another key feature to the unicorn cake is the rosettes. To prepare, I watched many tutorials on making rosettes. There are plenty so no worries. A few weeks prior to making the unicorn cake, I made a rosette cake just to get some practice. The right tools are crucial: a 1M tip(you can use other large star tips) and a piping bag. I initially purchased the cheaper plastic tips and plastic disposable piping bags which will get the job done. However, I inherited a few metal piping tips and a nice large Wilton piping bag, and I will not go back. The larger bags are easier to handle and less messy. The metal tips are easier to clean. My plastic tips had grooves on the inside that made it difficult to clean the icing out of the tip. Luckily, these items are still reasonable. The Wilton 1M metal piping tip is around $4.50 and a Wilton 16 inch piping bag is around $5.50. If you are going to be decorating a lot of cakes in the future, you might consider investing in a set of metal tips and several varying sizes of piping bags. The more bags you have for decorating the less cleaning and refilling you have to do when working on a big project.

One of the most important features of this cake is the horn, and honestly the easiest feature. I used a wooden skewer which I typically have in my pantry for grilling. Cut the wooden skewer down to the desired height. Shape the horn with white fondant by rolling it out in a cylinder with one end smaller than the other and wrapping the fondant around the skewer. So what is the most important part of the unicorn’s horn….the sparkle, of course! I used Aztec Gold Luster Dust which cost about $6. I mixed a small amount of the dust with a lemon juice and then used a small cake decorating brush to paint the gold dust on the horn. I started out with a small amount of the dust and just begin to play around to get the desired color and consistency.

These items are tools I used specifically for the unicorn cake, but I have used them on other projects as well. I have reused the gold dust when making a fall-themed cake with golden, brown leaves to create a nice golden tint. There are other cake decorator tools that you may or may not have that make decorating easier, such as an icing smoother, fondant roller, and turntable. None of the items will cost you a lot of money and will come in handy if you continue to decorate cakes. I also recommend the food coloring gel. The gel works better with the icing and the colors are more vibrant.

I felt my unicorn cake was quite a success for my first attempt. I have made a couple of flops but for every flop there is a lesson learned. As far as the cake itself, I used my tried and true white cake recipe from Betty Crocker. I wanted to focus on the decorating, and I am confident my Betty Crocker cake recipes are a winner. I made four layers of cake. I did experiment with making Swiss Meringue icing after a tip from a more experienced baker/decorator, and I loved it! Swiss Meringue will now be my go-to icing. The consistency of Swiss Meringue is perfect for decorating, and the flavor is not deathly sweet like many powdered sugar icings. This experience definitely boosted my confidence. If there is cake out there that you have been dying to make but think you don’t have the skill, I encourage you to go for it! Do your homework, do your research, and take your time! If I can do it, you can do it.

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