For these cake layers I actually modified my usual two-layer cake recipe, taking out the cocoa powder and adding raspberry and blueberry jams, and using buttermilk instead of regular milk (hence the layers you see in the video). When I don’t have a specific flavor request though, here’s the cake recipe I usually use! (A doubled and slightly-modified a chocolate cupcake recipe from thescranline.com - check out Nick's site and his Instagram feed if you haven't already; he does some incredible work!)
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
¾ c /12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ c milk
2 t vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, add the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and sugar. Turn mixer on low speed and allow it to mix for a couple minutes to help everything combine well (or sift the ingredients together). Add in the softened butter until it’s well incorporated into the dry ingredients and no lumps of butter are visible. (This can also be done with a hand mixer).
Next, add milk, eggs, and vanilla together and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in a slow and steady stream until no dry ingredients are visible. Scrape down the bowl and mix for another 20 seconds.
Fill the pans evenly - I find a kitchen scale helpful for this part, and each of mine weighed out to about 600g. Bake for 30-35 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow cake layers to cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting. If you insert a skewer or toothpick and it comes out with wet batter, bake for another few minutes at a time until a skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with moist crumbs.
Cool 10-15 minutes before removing cakes from pans. After removing cake layers from pans, allow to cool completely before decorating – set in the fridge or freezer to accelerate the cooling process if desired.
While you’re waiting…make your frosting!
Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting:
6 oz (one package) cream cheese, softened
12 Tablespoons (two sticks) butter, softened
5 c powdered sugar
2-3 Tablespoons milk
1 T clear vanilla extract
Save and add later – few drops blue food coloring
Beat together softened cream cheese and butter; slowly add in powdered sugar alternating with milk until frosting reaches desired consistency. Add vanilla (+ 1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter) and beat until well combined.
Remove about 1/3 c of frosting (keep this white) and color the remaining frosting light blue.
- 1 8- or 10 -inch cardboard cake circle (I prefer Wilton’s center-punched circles) or an 8” acrylic cake disc (I started using these so I wouldn’t waste so many cake circles!)
- Cake leveler, cake turntable, large offset spatula, and pastry cutter/bench scraper - not all 100% necessary but incredibly helpful! (Here’s a link to the cake turntable I use)
- Colored fondant – I used a bit of red, a tiny bit of black, and this Pastel combo fondant pack from Wilton, and that was all that I needed! I also used some Satin Ice white gum paste for the lettering and the clouds.
Once your cakes are cool, level them (if needed/desired). This can be done with a cake leveler or a large serrated knife and a ruler. Place a smear of frosting on your cake circle (to keep the cake from sliding while you decorate it) and center your first cake layer in the center of the circle.
If filling with anything other than frosting, pipe a small rim of frosting around the outer edge of your first cake layer to keep the filling from showing on the outside of the cake, and spread the ganache over the layer.
Otherwise, spread the layer with frosting. Add your second cake layer on top!
Now you're ready to crumb-coat . If you're unfamiliar with crumb-coating, it's just what it sounds like – spreading a thin layer of frosting over the entire outside of the cake to keep crumbs out of your final layer.
Once your crumb coat has set (this takes about 5-10 minutes in the fridge), add your final layer of frosting and smooth – I started with white, covering the cake top and about ½ inch down the side of the cake, and then covered the rest with light blue frosting. I like to use an offset spatula and bench scraper to smooth the icing on the cake, but this is optional. Once your cake is covered, place it into the fridge or freezer for a few minutes to set the frosting.
I’ll do my best to describe making the unicorn – I forgot to film that step. :/ I started with a pink fondant rectangle and a slightly smaller square, then cut out a small arc to make the feet. I added a band of yellow at the feet and a white tail, and stuck a small green ball to the top side to make the neck. The face details were fairly straightforward but a little finicky since they’re so small – I added a small half-circle to the lower portion of the face, and then very thin white and black circles to form the eyes. I cut a ‘v’ in a small red circle for the mouth, and actually used that piece to place the three dots for the nose and cheeks. Two small triangles and a tiny unicorn horn (optional) – and then leave it to dry and you’re done!
The rainbow and sun are both shown in the video! For the rainbow, roll out progressively longer strips of each successive color of fondant (I used pink, then purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and finally red). Adhere them together with a brush of water and leave the rainbow to set and dry. Lettering is optional, but here’s a letter-cutter set similar to mine!
I used a yellow small flattened circle and a long strip that I cut into triangles to form the sun – sticking a thin skewer into the base when I was done.
I used a clip-art paper template to cut out the clouds (google will pull up about a thousand shape options), and cut these out of gum paste. Once I left them to dry for about 24 hours they stayed up great even though I only used a tiny bit of icing to adhere them to the cake, cake top, and cake circle!
Anyway...there are all my tips if you want to make a similar cake!