Saturday, 14 April 2012

Rainbow Layer Unicorn Cake

Yes this is as awesome as it sounds.....

I was recently asked to produce a cake for an 80th birthday party. The theme? Well unicorns of course! And no unicorn cake would be complete without a rainbow, so I thought I'd attempt the daring and quite frankly terrifying "rainbow layer cake". To my surprise, this turned out to be not quite so daring and terrifying as I had imagined, in fact it was simply a case of vanilla sponge and some decent gel food colouring! Phew. 

Ah but the unicorn, now that was something else. My first attempt at a sugarcraft unicorn was vetoed by my eldest charge (Miss P) - "Abi, why have you made a pig with a hat?" - a disturbingly accurate description of my hour of hard work. Attempt 2 and 3 were dismissed as "still not really looking like a unicorn" and attempt 4 was laughed at by Mr F (middle charge) to cries of "HAHAHAHA it looks nothing like a unicorn, that's definitely a squashed dog!"

I gave up. And bought a sugarcraft unicorn from the lovely people at Cinnamon Square Bakery in Rickmansworth - absolute life savers!

With that hurdle swiftly sidestepped (thank goodness I'm rubbish at sports!) the whole cake seemed to be relatively straightforward. Here's my attempt, why don't you have a go?

I currently have no pictures of the finished rainbow layers to show you, but the birthday girl has promised to email me a picture of a slice as soon as they cut the cake - as soon as I have one I'll show you on here. Oh I do hope it looks as good on the inside!

How to make a rainbow layer cake:

Warning: This cake will be big, much taller than average. With much more buttercream. But that's ok right?   After all you're not going to be eating a whole cake every day!

You will need enough vanilla sponge mix to fill six 9" sandwich tins. I have 3 tins so did this in 2 batches.
Measure out equal amounts of batter into 6 bowls. Then dye each one using just a little bit of GEL food colouring (this is important as the liquid food colouring is not heat proof and therefore the colours are not  vibrant enough). These are available on amazon or through shops like lakeland and whisk.
Pour each colour batter into a separate tin and bake at 160 for about 30-40 mins or until a skewer comes out clean and the sponge springs back when touched.

 The colours should look something like this before being baked. I also did yellow, red and orange.

After the cakes have cooled, they need to be stacked. This is where the buttercream comes in (YUM). Any buttercream will do, I like lemon curd buttercream (see the caked crusader's brilliant blog for a great recipe ) with the vanilla cakes as otherwise it can be a bit sweet and sickly, but then again, I don't really like the taste of cake so who am I to recommend?!  I would suggest that white and cream coloured buttercreams would look the most visually striking against the rainbow coloured layers, but I have seen a raspberry buttercream work quite well (the pale pink looked quite nice).

You will need roughly 3 times the amount of buttercream required to cover 12 cupcakes.

Simply stack the layers on top of each other in colour order, filling each layer with buttercream as you go. It is important to make sure that the layers are as level as possible as by the time you get to the top you will end up with the leaning cake of Pisa if not enough care has been taken!

Eventually you will end up with all the layers stacked, hopefully in a relatively straight tower. I like to turn the top layer upside down so the flat bottom of the cake is at the top. This makes a much cleaner surface to cover with fondant eventually. Then dowels need to be placed in the cake to prevent slippage. I used wooden skewers instead - a much cheaper alternative, but just as effective:

After cutting the dowels to size (and hopefully avoiding and pinching related injuries that may ensue, unlike myself - such a clutz), the whole thing needs to be crumb coated in buttercream before covering in fondant.


I like to use beading made of fondant to connect the cake to the fondant covered board. This hides any unsightly wrinkles or crumbs that may have escaped at the bottom of the cake.

Leave the cake overnight to settle before decorating however you like! I chose the green fondant and a meadow scene. Fondant flowers and green royal icing piped to look like tufts of grass. Simple but quite effective I think. All I can say is the photos do not show just how closely I stuck to my favourite life lesson: "You can never have enough glitter"!

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? Let me know!