Simple Unicorn Cake Ideas that are Easy to Make for any Beginner Baker
It’s easy to create a bold and bright unicorn cake in no time with these step by step directions! With the beginner baker in mind, this post offers basic cake decorating techniques to keep it simple but still really cute! You’ll also be inspired by the super quick, time-saving decor options to create a unicorn cake all your own!!!
If you have a little girl in your life, chances are you’re more than aware of the unicorn craze of the past couple of years. It was no surprise when my daughter requested a unicorn cake for her 5th birthday.
Tammy and I headed online (like we always do), looking for a cute design yet simple and easy enough to make. It seems as though everyone, from beginner to expert baker, has a version of this cake. A lot of them are great, but we always like to try to make any cake our own in some way.
For my daughter’s cake, we decided to go with this easy topper kit, but dress it up and add extra tri-colored buttercream rosettes to the mane.
Fast forward almost a year, and since unicorns don’t seem to be going anywhere, we wanted to make this cake again with an extra twist.
And what says extra like surprise rainbow layers of frosting?!
We saw a lot of designs with colored cake, but not any with colored frosting. It’s a really fun yet easy way to add a special effect to your cake.
We also kept the beginner baker in mind (like we usually do). ANYONE can make this cake!
If you have never made a cake, you’ll be able to follow these directions and use our other simple suggestions to make a fabulous unicorn cake.
Helpful Tips to Know Before You Get Started
Refrigerate your cakes covered in plastic wrap for at least 15 minutes before frosting and stacking; this will firm them and prevent flakes and crumbs during the frosting process.
Stacking your cakes and achieving a level top can be a challenge for a beginner baker. Fortunately, if you do a few simple steps during the baking process, assembling your cake will be much easier. For great tips on baking flat cake layers, check out this post at Preppy Kitchen.
Deciding how much frosting you will need for a project may also leave you scratching your head. We whipped up 9 cups of buttercream for this unicorn cake…this will probably be a little more than you need. As a rule, we always like to have too much frosting rather than too little. You run the risk of running out, and if you run out of colored frosting, it is super hard (as in nearly impossible) to perfectly match your original color shade.
So what do you do with leftover frosting? Frosting is freezable-just put it in an airtight container or freezer bag and it’s good for 2-3 months. It also makes a great dip for animal crackers-this is one of Tammy’s kids’ favorite snacks!
The super simple and quick version of this cake:
- stack your layers
- frost the cake
- slap on the topper kit accessories and call it a day!
In this case, you’re skipping piping the tri-colored rosettes, so you can decrease the amounts of the blue teal, pink, and purple frostings needed to 1⁄4 C each.
Materials You’ll Need:
- Three 8 in. round cakes-homemade recipe or your favorite box mix
- 9 C buttercream frosting-try our recipe
- Icing colors in parentheses-all Wilton brand
○ 1⁄4 C yellow (Buttercream Yellow)
○ 1⁄4 C green (Leaf Green)
○ 1 C blue teal (Teal)
○ 1 C pink (Rose)
○ 1 C purple (Violet)
○ 5 1⁄2 C white
- 10 in. round cake board
- angled spatula
- Wilton 2D frosting tip
- 6 piping bags or plastic bags
- Unicorn Cake Topper Kit
- 5 small bowls
- plastic wrap
- turntable (recommended)
Step by Step Instructions
Your cakes are baked and chillin’ in the fridge, time to focus on the frosting!
Once you’ve mixed up your 9 cups of white buttercream, you’re ready to create beautiful rainbow-colored frosting!
- Grab 5 small bowls and measure out the needed amounts of frosting for each color:
~2 bowls with a 1⁄4 c each for the yellow and green frosting
~3 bowls with 1 C each for the pink, blue teal, and purple frosting
- With a toothpick, swipe out your icing color and start mixing it into the buttercream. Start with just a little-you can always add more.
*Use less coloring for softer pastel shades and more coloring for deep bold shades.
You now have the perfect rainbow colors ready to go, so it’s time to bag up that buttercream and get it onto your cake!
- Fill your piping or plastic bags with frosting. Reserve 1⁄2 C each of blue teal, pink, and purple. You’ll use that later to pipe your rosettes for the unicorn’s mane.
- Cut the bag about an inch from the tip. Your frosting bags are ready to go! Time to assemble your cake!
Assemble and Frost
- Place your 10in. round cake board on your turntable. Place a dollop of white buttercream in the middle of your board. This will help the base cake layer stick securely to the cake board.
- Center the base cake layer on the cake board. You’re ready to create that surprise rainbow buttercream layer.
- To create the rainbow, start with a white border of buttercream. This will prevent colored frosting from showing through on the sides of the cake. Squeeze the air out of the bag and push the frosting to the tip of the bag. Continue to apply pressure, piping a ring around the outer edge of the cake.
- Using the same technique, continue with the rainbow colors in your preferred order.
- Smooth out the rings of buttercream with a spatula. This gets rid of any air bubbles or space between the colors, creating a smooth creamy layer.
- Place the second cake layer on top of the rainbow and repeat steps #3-5.
- Top off the stack with the third layer and you’re ready to crumb coat!
- Play with stacking your cakes while they’re still wrapped to help you get the most even, flat shape possible.
- Before the crumb coat: brush off any visible flakes and crumbs with a pastry brush.
Uh, what’s a crumb coat?
A crumb coat is the first layer of frosting on a cake. It seals in the cake’s moisture and helps keep crumbs from spreading into the outer layer of frosting. It acts as glue locking the cake into itself. Think of it as a primer before painting.
- Squeeze a generous amount of white buttercream on the top and sides of the cake. Go around the cake several times.
- With a spatula, start smoothing the frosting on the top of the cake in a circular motion, working from the outer edge inward.
- Smooth out the sides of the cake, working in one direction around the cake until smooth.
- Pop the cake back in the fridge for about 15 minutes. This allows the buttercream to set before applying the second frosting layer.
- Apply a second layer of buttercream following the above steps.
And now for the most fun part-it’s time to decorate your unicorn cake!
It’s time to transform this plain basic cake into a bright and beautiful unicorn! This cute unicorn topper keeps the design super easy, the kids can even help with this part!
- Place the cake topper about 1⁄3 of the way from the edge of the cake. It might help to secure it with a little white buttercream to hold it in place.
- Prep your bag of tri-colored buttercream for the rosettes:
~Lay flat a piece of plastic wrap, about 12 x 12 should do the trick.
~Pipe out 3 thick strips of each color.
~Roll up the plastic wrap, pinch and twist the ends, and cut off one end.
~Push the Wilton 2D tip to the bottom of a piping bag. Note where the tip fits snugly and cut the tip of the bag. The tip should have a tight fit.
~Put the tri-colored buttercream roll into the piping bag, pushing down as far as you can, and then squeeze out any air.
*Another option to keep things simple is to skip the above step and use solid-colored rosettes for the mane.
- Pipe rosette swirls to create a colorful flowing mane for your unicorn.
Applying pressure, move in a small circular motion. Relieve pressure and pull up to finish off each rosette.
Helpful Tip: Before you start to decorate, choose the smoothest section of the cake and use that for the front.
Add the foam flowers from the cake topper kit randomly throughout the mane.
*Insert toothpicks into the flowers and then put them on the cake.
Place the eyelashes on the front of the cake to give your unicorn a face and bring her to life.
And there you have it! A simple but bold and bright unicorn cake!