Life isn’t always rainbows and unicorns, but sometimes it is. . .

Finished Unicorn Cake

Unicorns, you ask? What do unicorns have to do with Baker at Law? My friend, Tegan’s birthday was last month and, as the baker of our group, I naturally volunteered to make her birthday cake ages ago.  T’s recently been on a huge unicorn kick, so I decided to give her the best darned unicorn cake I could for her unicorn-themed birthday party.

Initially, I toyed with the idea of making her a confetti cake from scratch, but eventually I decided to take the “wow” factor up a notch by crafting a 6-layer rainbow cake with confetti buttercream. Unicorns? Rainbows? Sprinkles? It was going to be perfect.

Rainbow Cake Layers

I eventually settled on a design I had seen on Pinterest and Instagram (I don’t know who started it, so if you know for sure, please let me know!) and got to work, initially doing a dry run to see how everything would turn out and if there was anything I needed to be mindful of. Oh man, was there.

For starters, I definitely needed to make more frosting. Even 1 1/2 times the usual Wilton American Buttercream recipe was not enough. My first unicorn was half bald.

I also needed to make sure at least 1/2 of the icing was a fairly still consistency in order to hold its shape while piping into rosettes and that pink, grass green, and blue were not a cute color combo.

Finally, I realized I needed roll my fondant out thicker. The first time I made the cake, you could clearly see all of the cake layers through it and it kept tearing. Patch jobs are not cute, people!

Eventually, though, I worked out the kinks and was able to make T’s cake pretty fabulous. I didn’t tell anyone about the funfetti frosting or the rainbow, which added to the surprise.

Rainbow Cake Cut

All in all, I had a pretty great time making this cake and I think you will, too. Don’t feel like you have to go through the extra step of decorating it like a unicorn or making rainbow layers. You can do any color you like. Apologies for not getting more pictures! The party was not at my house and, of course, I can’t cut into a cake I’m bringing for someone’s birthday before the actual party. I tried to take as many as possible, just so you can see what the inside and outside looked like when I was finished.

Rainbow Slice

Doesn’t the inside of the cake look so festive? Especially on top of that adorable rainbow plaid plate. In the end, the party and the cake both turned out great. Everything was rainbow and unicorn themed, we drank unicorn mimosas (seriously so good), and we ate rainbow chicken and waffles. There was a giant unicorn balloon and even color changing straws and spoons. Lauren even went the extra mile and got us unicorn horns. Mine was pink! It was an amazing time in the end and well worth the effort.

The recipe below, from Brown Eyed Baker,  is a great, go-to yellow cake recipe that is super simple to make and that comes out fabulous every time. I think you’ll love it! It’s almost like a really delicious corn muffin when it comes down to texture, but the taste is your typical vanilla yellow cake. Even though it’s a yellow cake, it takes on the food coloring FABULOUSLY. All of the colors were true and not the least bit altered by the egg yolks, which I was a bit worried about to begin with.

By the way, I used the Wilton Color Right system for this, which has great color guides for mixing your colors. It’s liquid, but taken up a notch. You’re really able to get a true red, instead of a reddish pink, like a lot of food coloring, even without using an entire bottle of color. You could also use gel food coloring or your typical grocery store liquid food coloring, but the liquid is going to require more drops, which could change the texture of the cake if you use too much.

The frosting is your typical American buttercream. It crusts slightly when left out, can be stiff to pipe or thinned out to frost between layers. Best of all, it’s really easy and quick to make when you don’t feel like going through the effort of making another kind of buttercream.

I really think you’ll enjoy this cake! Please let me know if you have any questions. As always, make sure to e-mail me at bakeratlawblog@gmail.com, tweet me @bakeratlawblog, or Facebook me.

Rainbow Chicken and WafflesOh! And here’s a bonus picture of the rainbow chicken and waffles from the party. Aren’t they so fun!

Halloween cupcake with fudge frosting overhead
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Halloween cupcakes with Fudge Icing

Delightful yellow cake adapted from Brown Eyed Baker's Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting Recipe.  Buttercream Frosting recipe adapted from Wilton's Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. Fudge Frosting adapted from Brown Eyed Baker's Bergers-Style Cookies. 

Course Dessert
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 24 Cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes

  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk or an equivalent amount of powdered buttermilk and water
  • 1/4 cup "fall" sprinkles (yellow, brown, orange, black)

Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 tsp clear vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups sifted icing sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or cream
  • Orange food coloring (or yellow and red)

Fudge Frosting

  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Lagniappe

  • 1 bag candy corn

Instructions

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two standard sized muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Spray cupcake liners with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt with a whisk. If you are using powdered buttermilk, as I did, whisk that in as well. Set the bowl aside.

  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a large bowl and hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until they are light yellow and fluffy. This should take about 3-5 minutes.

  4. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sides down to ensure that all of your butter and sugar are evenly mixed. Beat eggs in one at a time, mixing for one minute after each egg is added. After all the eggs are added, beat in the vanilla extract. 

  5. All at once, add in the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until just combined. Add in the buttermilk or, if you chose to use powdered buttermilk, the equivalent amount of water at this time. Beat on low for 1 minute, then increase to medium speed. Beat for 3 more minutes. 

  6. Gently fold in the sprinkles by hand, being careful not to mix too much. If you over-mix, color from the sprinkles will bleed into the batter. 

  7. Fill muffin liners 2/3 full of batter.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. The cakes are ready when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost completely clean. The center should spring back when touched lightly. 

  8. Cool the cupcakes for 2-5 minutes in the baking pan, then remove to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Buttercream Frosting

  1. While the cake is cooling, cream together the butter and shortening in a large bowl until light, fluffy, and well incorporated. 

  2. Beat in the vanilla extract. Slowly add in the confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, beating on medium speed. Between additions, scrape the sides of your bowl with a rubber spatula. When all the confectioner's sugar is mixed in, the mixture will appear pretty dry. 

  3. Add milk in one tablespoon at a time until it reaches a fairly spreadable consistency. If you don't need the last few tablespoons, then don't add them. You want to mixture to be soft enough to pipe easily, but thick enough to hold it's shape when piped.

  4. Once the desired consistency has been achieved, mix in enough orange (or red and yellow) food coloring to achieve a pumpkin-orange color. 

Fudge Frosting

  1. Add the chocolate chips, cream, and salt to a large bowl and microwave at 50% power until melted and smooth. Do this in short increments of about 30 seconds at a time to prevent burning your chocolate and stir between intervals. 

  2. Once the chocolate mixture is cohesive, whisk in the remaining ingredients until the frosting resembles brownie batter. If you use a thermometer to check the temperature, it should be around 95 degrees. 

Assembly

  1. Fit a large piping bag with a jumbo open star piping tip. I used a Wilton 1M for these cupcakes. 

    Fill the prepared piping bag with your buttercream icing. Set aside. 

  2. Spoon approximately 2 tbsp onto the top of each cupcake. Spread evenly, so that the top of the cupcakes are completely covered. 

    Set aside to allow the fudge to firm up slightly. 

  3. Pipe swirls on top of each cupcake, leaving the middle open. 

    Press 2-4 pieces of candy corn into the center of each cupcake. 

  4. Enjoy! These cupcakes will last in an airtight container for several days, if you manage to keep them around that long. 

Pictures and text copyright of Baker at Law. Do not repost without giving proper attribution or asking permission in advance.

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