Cara the Unicorn
For the cake
335g plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp table salt
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
315g granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
For the frosting
6 cups of cream cheese frosting (see recipe below)
Food colouring: purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, pink and black
For the magic
340g rainbow sprinkle explosion mix
115g star-shaped sprinkles, for the explosion
1 sugar ice cream cone for her horn
1 tbsp edible gold paint
28g white chocolate, for her ears
white nonpareils (optional) for her coat
Make the cake
Preheat your oven to 175°C.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk until they are really mixed together. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter and sugar together, until they become fluffy. Add the eggs, to the butter-sugar mixture, with the mixer on medium speed. Mix about one-third of your dry ingredients into the butter-sugar-egg mixture, then blend in half of the milk, always mixing on medium speed. Mix in the second third of the dry ingredients, then the remaining milk mixture. Stop the mixer for a few seconds and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl as you go, then mix in the last of the flour mixture. Divide the batter evenly into six portions (about 250g of batter). Colour the batter individually in rainbow colours. Spray six 6-inch round baking pans with cooking spray, then pour the coloured batter to the greased pans. Bake the cakes two at a time for 16 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes. Then cut the 2-in hole in all but 1 of the layers, build with frosting and fill with sprinkles. Then coat the outside thoroughly with white frosting.
Make the frosting
Dye about 135g of frosting each pink, purple, blue, green, yellow, and orange (for the mane), and 67g of it black for the face. (You’ll want at least 534g of coloured frostings for her mane: You don’t have to use all the colours shown here.) Remember, when colouring frosting, start with a drop of colour and add more until it is as bright as you want it to be. For the mane colours, it’s easiest to fill several different piping bags with the coloured frostings, so that you can easily have them all on hand to pipe swirls in the pattern you like. The rest of the frosting will stay white, for frosting the cake and filling the layers.
Make the magic
Make the horn: Paint the ice cream cone gold using your edible gold paint. Next, make the white chocolate ears: Melt the white chocolate, then form the melted chocolate into big teardrops, about 5cm tall. Once the ears have cooled, flip them over so you have a flat surface, then use a clean paintbrush to paint on a little oval in the middle of the round part of the ear with the edible gold paint. With your fully cooled cake layers, build your cake using the how-to in note 3 as a guide. Don’t forget to add the sprinkles and stars to the centre, for the explosion! Cover the cake in white frosting and coat with white nonpareils, if you’d like.
We use a mix of the open and closed star piping to make the beautiful ridged swirls for Cara’s mane, but you can easily make them using a plain round hole – either way, practice a little first to get the hang of it: Just pipe on a little circle about 5cm wide, similar to how you’d fill a cone with soft-serve. Then, to make Cara’s mane, start with one large frosting swirl in the middle of her forehead, right where it meets the top of the cake. Cover her head with a triangle of multicoloured swirls, then pipe on more multicoloured swirls so her mane trails down one side. You can fill in any blank spaces with smaller swirls in different colours. Have fun with it! It’s a unicorn cake, not the Mona Lisa. Give Cara her charm: Position the horn, then gently place the ears on top of the cake, with the pointed side up and the gold paint facing forward. Use a piping bag to draw on the eyes with black frosting: Think of them as just two half circles; you can even use a small round object to make a little indentation in the frosting to use as a guide. (Always do the eyes last, so you can centre them.) Add just a little extra magic: a splash of sprinkles and stars across the top of her head.
Stacking the cake
Once your cakes are baked and completely cool, lay them out with the tops facing up. (The top is what you see when the cake comes out of the oven, and the bottom is the part of the cake touching the pan.) FYI, this cake is at its very best the same day it’s made. If you don’t have time to bake and then frost it on the same day, you can wrap the cooled layers individually very well in several layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate them. They will last for two to three days. Even after that, it doesn’t really go bad so much as the layers begin to dry out. That’s what refrigerators do to cake – they dry it. But even dry cake isn’t necessarily bad cake: I love cake the day it is made, but slightly dry cake is great to serve with ice cream.
Once your cakes are baked and completely cool, lay them out with the tops facing up. Then put the first layer of cake directly on top of the frosting. In this case, the bottom layer is purple. Cover the top of the cake with an even layer of frosting. Using a piping bag, make sure to squeeze on the same amount of frosting for every layer: You just add on the same number of rings every time. Add the second layer of cake and frosting then repeat.
Cream Cheese Frosting
225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
455g cream cheese, cold
2 tbsp vanilla extract
910g icing sugar
Use an electric mixer on medium speed to blend the butter until it is smooth. Add the cream cheese and blend it together until there are no lumps. Then add the vanilla. Stop the mixer and use a spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth. Mix in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time on the lowest speed – otherwise it will fly everywhere! Use the spatula to push down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl, making sure it’s all mixed in from the sides and everything is smooth. Use right away. Technically the frosting will last at least a week in the refrigerator, but fresh frosting is key! It tastes and feels so much better.
Extracted from The Power of Sprinkles by Amirah Kassem of Flour Shop (Abrams, approx €21). Photographs © 2019 Henry Hargreaves.