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Tutorial: how to make a unicorn cake for your wedding reception

Written by , published 20th jul 2017

Get deliciously inspired with this adorable recipe from expert baker Juliet Sears' new book

Sweet Unicorn Cake

I used four layers of the Fluffy Vanilla Cake (scroll down for this recipe) for this cake, making it nice and tall – it looks really effective. I also coloured the layers, so there’s lots of rainbow fun inside the cake as well as on the outside – it looks really sweet and goes well with the rainbow mane.

Makes 1 cake - you will need...

• 1 pre-layered cake 

• Icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting

• 1.25 kg (2 lb 12 oz) white sugar paste (fondant)

• 30 cm (12 in) gold cake drum, for display

• Cake smoothers

• 66 cm (26 in) white ribbon

• A little soft-peak white Royal Icing, in a piping bag fitted with a number 2 round nozzle, for sticking

• 40 g (1 1/2 oz) black sugar paste (fondant)

• 5 cm (2 in) round cutter

• 60 g (2 oz) pastel pink sugar paste (fondant)

• Unicorn nose template (download below)

• Black edible food pen (finetip), for face details

• 250 g (9 oz) pastel yellow sugar paste (fondant)

• Ice-cream cone, for horn 

• Edible gold shimmer spray and gold glitter  

• 1 larger piping bag, fitted with large open star nozzle (1M)

• 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) Basic Vanilla Bean Buttercream (see below) in four pastel colours, in piping bags

• Cocktail sticks

• Gold brush pen


1 First, fill and coat the cake according to the instructions on pages 78–79, then leave to firm up and set in the fridge for 1 hour. 

2 Dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out the white sugar paste to a circle large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake – about 50 cm (20 in).

3 Pick up the sheet of icing using the pin, lift up and drape over the cake.

4 Smooth it down with your hands, encouraging the icing to stick to the sides. Lift it up if it starts to fold. You can place any creases to the back or side and cover with the piped mane.

5 Once the icing is smoothed all over the cake, trim around the base with a sharp knife. Keep the off-cuts to make the ears.

6 Place the cake onto the gold cake drum. Using cake smoothers with firm pressure, polish the top and the sides.

7 Wrap the white ribbon around the bottom of the cake, sticking the ends together with royal icing. Make sure the join is at the back. Leave the cake overnight, before adding the other details.

8 To make the large round eyes, thinly roll out the black sugar paste and cut out circles with the 5 cm (2 in) round cutters.

9 To make the pink nose, roll out the pink sugar paste and cut around the template. (Download the template here.)

10 Use the white royal icing to stick the nose and eyes onto the front of the cake.

11 Flatten balls of white sugar paste to make white circles for the shine on the eyes. Secure with royal icing. With black edible pen, make an eyelash flick on each eye, and add the nose and mouth detail.

12 make the horn, take about 200 g (7 oz) of the yellow sugar paste, roll into a long sausage and flatten it a little with your palm.

13 Stick a small blob of the sugar paste on the bottom of the cone to make a secure base, then pipe a little soft-peak royal icing over the ice-cream cone to make it sticky. 

14 Now wind the fondant sausage around the cone, from the base to the tip, making a point at the top. Reserve any excess sugar paste for the ears. 

15 Spray with gold shimmer spray and sprinkle with a little gold glitter. Stick on the top of the cake using royal icing to secure. 



Basic Vanilla Bean Buttercream

You'll need...

• 1 vanilla pod, or 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste  

• 250 g (9 oz/2 1/4 sticks) soft unsalted butter

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract  

• 500 g (1 lb 2 oz/4 cups) icing (confectioners’) sugar, sieved 

A very easy recipe for filling or topping cupcakes and large cakes. Make sure to use very soft butter – sometimes I blast mine in the microwave for about 10 seconds.

Save the vanilla pod (if using) for flavouring syrups or pop into your sugar jar to infuse the sugar. Like most of the cakes and fillings, you can freeze any you have left over.

Makes 750 g (1 lb 10 oz) (enough to fill and cover a 20 cm (8 in) round cake) If you have an electric stand mixer then use this with the beater or paddle attachment. Otherwise, use a hand-held mixer or a wooden spoon. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod, if using, or add the paste. In the mixer or bowl, cream the butter with the vanilla seeds and extract until very pale, creamy and smooth.

Add about one-quarter of the icing sugar. To make sure the sugar doesn’t puff out in clouds and cover your kitchen, mix slowly at first. You can also place a damp tea towel over the bowl.

Once the icing sugar is incorporated, beat at a high speed for about 1 minute until the mix is really creamy and pale. It will take you a few more minutes by hand. Continue adding the sugar, one quarter at a time, taking care to beat it in well after each addition. Beat the buttercream at high speed for 1–2 minutes until fluffy.


Fluffy Vanilla Cake

You can use this recipe to make simple vanilla cupcakes or bake in larger tins for layer cakes. I’ve used this recipe for the Sweet Unicorn Cake, Rainbow Swirl Cupcakes (page 32) and Very Friendly Miniature Ghost Cakes (page 48). Make sure your ingredients are all at room temperature.

Makes 12–16 cupcakes, depending in size, or 2 x 20 cm (8 in) round sponge layers

• 300 g (10 1/2 oz/2 1/2 sticks) soft salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing

• 300 g (10 1/2 oz/1 1/2 cups) golden caster (superfine) sugar

• 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

• 6 medium free-range eggs, lightly beaten

• 300 g (10 1/2 oz/2 1/2 cups) self-raising flour, sifted

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

1) Preheat the oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4). Grease 2 x 20 cm (8 in) round cake tins or a 12-hole cupcake tray. 

2) Place the butter, sugar and vanilla or other flavourings into a mixing bowl and combine. If using an electric mixer, turn the speed to high (or if you’re using a wooden spoon, use plenty of elbow grease!) and beat until  the mixture is very pale, soft and fluffy and the granules of sugar have disappeared.

3) Add the beaten eggs, about one-quarter at a time, beating them in slowly each time.

4) Add the flour gradually,  one-quarter at a time, mixing gently on a slow speed, until it has mostly been incorporated. Then, add the baking powder. Fold with a metal spoon if doing this by hand. Take care not to mix or beat vigorously or your sponge can turn out a bit tough. Scrape the mixture into cupcake casesor lined tins as required.

5) For cupcakes, bake for around 12–15 minutes, checking every few minutes. For a larger cake, begin checking after 20 minutes. Remember, all ovens vary so if in doubt use an oven thermometer. The cakes should be a light golden brown, springy to the touch. A sharp knife or metal skewer should come out clean and free of mixture when inserted into the centre.

6) Leave to cool for a couple of minutes in the tins, then turn out into a cooling rack.

Kawaii Cakes: Adorable & Cute Japanese-Inspired Cakes and Treats by Juliet Sear (Hardie Grant, £9.99) Photography © Juliet Sear  

unicorn cake recipewedding planningwedding cake recipeswedding ideasjuliet sears

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