Gorgeous And Super Easy Unicorn Cake Tutorial
Did you know the unicorn is the national animal of Scotland? Isn’t that wonderful?! So what better way to celebrate Burns night this year than with a unicorn cake tutorial, dressed up all in blue to match the national flag too.
For anyone who might be wondering, what the frick is Burns night? It’s a full night of eating haggis, drinking whisky and reciting the poetry of the great man, Rabbie Burns on January 25th each year to celebrate his birthday. The man responsible for absolute gems such as Auld Lang Syne, Ae Fond Kiss and To A Mouse. Ae Fond Kiss is my personal favourite, a tale of forbidden love because his companion was married. It almost becomes sweeter because they never actually became lovers. It wasn’t clouded by lust because he knew he could never be with her that way. He truly loved her and wanted nothing more than to be around her. And then she must leave to return to her husband in Jamaica, thinking they’ll never see each other again.
I’m such a sucker for tragic romance. Probably because it takes away the risk of the two parties just drifting apart, or getting bored, or cheating. You get to have the dramatic love without the risk of it turning sour. No wonder I’m single eh? And if you dig a little deeper (thanks BBC), it likely would have been a nightmare. I mean, he was a great poet yes but a great husband? Not so much. He fathered at least three children out of wedlock (leaving the women kicked out of service because of it), only married his wife 3 years after their first child was born and basically just couldn’t keep it in his pants. Didn’t I tell you, it’s better to have it all cut short while the fire’s still burning.
Something more cheerful? What could be more cheerful than a country naming its national animal the unicorn?? It makes my heart so happy! Especially for a country that’s known for Trainspotting and the Glesga Kiss. To have the epitome of goodness be our national animal is just amazing. I did a little research (via The Scotsman), turns out they still believed it was a real animal then and that it was the natural enemy of the lion (the national animal of England). Its power didn’t simply lie in its ability to beat its enemies, it was a symbol of purity and protection for its friends too. A long-standing myth is the legend of a unicorn using its horn to purify a watering hole that’s been poisoned by a snake. It feels so Scottish to me. The unicorn was believed to spend its time making the world around it better but if you try to step on its toes? It’s taking you down pal. The unicorn is even featured, to this day, on the Royal UK Coat of Arms to symbolise the new peace between the Unicorn and the Lion.
So, as the national animal of Scotland and probably the longest lasting cake trend of recent years I thought it was about time I paid my respects to both. You might be wondering why I chose fondant for the mane instead of buttercream? A few reasons, one I really wanted to put my stamp on it and fondant is, as you know, my jam. And two, piping is a little outside my comfort zone. I do wanna improve at some stage but for now, it seemed a little much to add to my ‘to learn list’.
I really enjoyed making this cake, it’s such a light-hearted theme, I couldn’t help but just chill out and relax. I even managed to film a little bit of the progress this time. You’ll find snippets below of the horn and the ears in progress, in time, I hope I get the confidence to film the assembly without my hands shaking (so lame, I know!). Inside the cake, I had to keep up the theme and what’s more Scottish than Irn Bru? I found this amazing recipe over at Baking With Granny for Irn Bru flavoured cake, I’m sure you guys are gonna love it just as much as I do.
3 batches of Irn Bru cake (recipe here)
800g icing sugar
500g white fondant
50g black fondant
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp vodka (or other clear alcohol)
Blue and purple food colouring
3 barbecue skewers
- Once you’ve mixed the Irn Bru sponge, transfer the batter into three, lined, 6-inch cake pans and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C/160Fan for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean
- When the cakes are ready and cooled, cut each into two layers. Wrap the freshly cut layers in cling film and place in the fridge
- Colour 250g of white fondant, blue until you reach the same colour as the horn in the picture
- Take roughly 2/3 of the blue fondant and roll it into two carrot shapes. Twist these around a barbecue skewer to create the horn. Brush the skewer with a little alcohol first to help the fondant catch. It takes a little tweaking here and there but keep with it 'til you’re happy. And don’t worry if you need a few tries, it took me four, I think until I got it to where I wanted
- When the horn is looking good, give it a quick spray with edible silver shimmer and leave to dry overnight. I used the polystyrene packing my mixer came with, but I’ve heard some other great tips such as, wedging an orange in a glass and then spearing it with the skewer. Or a very large baking potato, be careful to make sure its supported at the sides for this one to stop it rolling off the counter
- On to the ears. I created a template from an empty margarine tub to help both the ears stay even, but you can absolutely free-hand it if you’d prefer. Cut a large ear from white fondant then brush with vodka
- Snip 2 skewers into two pieces each, roughly 3 inches long. Press the cut pieces into the white ears, careful not to push all the way through to the underside
- Roll out the leftover blue fondant and cut 2 small ears. Place these on top of the white to cover the barbecue skewers and press gently until they are secure. The vodka should still be wet to help them stick but if not, brush on a little extra before adding the blue ears on top
- Lastly, roll up 4 pieces of tin foil and use these to prop up the sides of the ears to give a lovely curved shape. Leave these to dry overnight
- The following day, remove the cakes from the freezer 1-2 hours before you plan to start decorating
- In a large bowl, whip together 400g of butter, 800g of icing sugar and the juice of half a lemon until it’s pale and fluffy. If you want to add some of Baking With Granny’s Irn Bru syrup, I’, recommend only adding it to half of the frosting which will go on the inside otherwise, the colour will be off for the unicorn
- When you’re frosting is the right consistency, mix in a tiny drop of purple to counteract the yellow of the butter and make it whiter
- Frost the cake evenly, building up the layers and then add a crumb coat to the outside to catch all the stray crumbs. Leave this to set in the fridge for 30 minutes
- Now, apply a generous layer of frosting all over with a palette knife. When everything is coated, scrape around to smooth out the sides and top. This can take a little time and perseverance but stick with it, you’ll get there. When everything is smooth, pop it back in the fridge to chill for another 30 minutes
- While the cake is chilling, take any remaining white fondant and colour it so you have five varying shades of blue. Two should be paler than the horn, two darker and one the same
- Remove the cake from the fridge and pop in the horn and the ears. Be careful to check beforehand that the skewer isn’t too long. If it is, carefully give it a little snip with scissors. Scissors are great to help push it all the way in too, use them to clamp the skewer just below the horn and then guide it down
- Now that the horn and ears are in place we can mosey on over to the eyelashes. I was really nervous about getting these even and in the right place, but it turns out it’s way easier than it looks. Roll out the black fondant on a piece of parchment paper. Rub a little icing sugar on top and flip over so the icing sugar side is facing down
- Using a very small cookie cutter, cut a circle from the black fondant. Use the same cutter, to cut this circle into a thin crescent moon shape. Turn up the right edge to make the eyelash flick. Brush the back with vodka and attach to the front of the cake. Roll out a tiny strip of black fondant for the second flick in the lash. I found it best to have a pair of sterilised tweezers nearby to gently nudge the fondant into place. Repeat for the other lash
- It’s finally time for the really fun bit… the hair! Ah, this was the best! Simple actions, repeated multiple times while your brain zones out. It’s like a cheat’s meditation, you have to focus just enough to get it right which stops your brain reminding you of that one time you spoke to a stranger for five minutes (thinking you knew them) 10 years ago. But you’re not concentrating so hard it feels like work. It’s my favourite kind of task
- It’s really easy, roll out little pieces of fondant into ropes that taper at the ends. Then, lay these ropes across the top, twisted and twirled into curly hair. Build up the layers and alternate the different shades until you’re happy with how she looks. If you have any trouble getting the fondant to stick to the buttercream, pop a little vodka into a clean, spray-bottle and mist over the cake. This should help the fondant stay put without running the risk of damaging the frosting
- At this point, I tried to finish but it didn’t feel quite right to me. She needed a nose. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but unicorn noses take up half their faces and are basically just a couple slits. That wasn’t gonna cut it for me I’m afraid. Instead, I substituted with a teeny little love heart in the same blue as the horn
And you’re done! Go forth and impress everyone you know this Burns night with your freaking awesome, unicorn cake. And if you aren’t Scottish? Who cares! This is a night of eating, drinking whisky and drunkenly reciting some wonderful poetry, I’m pretty sure everyone can get on board with that.
See you next week for a hipster fox cake, you don’t wanna miss it!