In 2018 I made a few cakes in addition to teaching my oldest daughter to make a few. I didn’t take enough photos during the process but thought I’d share them regardless. Hopefully this will provide some guidance and if nothing else, confidence to some of you to DIY a birthday cake.
Highway Unicorn Cake
My daughter (bless her heart) enjoys watching baking shows with me. Our favorite shows would have to be the Netflix Original Nailed It because well Nicole Byer is hilarious. We also really enjoyed binging Zumbo’s Just Desserts. Between the baking shows and her perusing Instagram she decided for her 13th birthday she desperately wanted what is called the ‘Highway Unicorn Cake.’ It’s as crazy as it sounds but oddly enough one of the easier cakes I have done. I really enjoyed making this one and REALLY enjoyed seeing her reaction to the finished product.
For this cake I used a 9″ round cake pan. I bought boxed cake mixes although I did tweak them so they taste like a bakery cake. (Use butter in place of oil and double it, milk in place of water, double the amount of eggs). I then divided the cake batter in small bowls and then colored it. After greasing and flouring the pans I put dollops of the various colors into the pans to create a colorful camouflage affect. It was a lot of work but turned out pretty well.
Then after they were out and cooled I wrapped them in clear wrap and popped them in the fridge to prep them for frosting. A few hours later I took out the layers and frosted between each layer with butter cream. I then put a layer of icing around the edges and wrapped it all again with clear wrap and refrigerated it over night. The next day I made more butter cream and tinted each color. Using a pipping bag without any tips I pipped frosting around the cake doing 2 rows of each color. Then I went back with a triangle tool I have and scraped the edges. As I did this the colors bleed into one another creating the pretty sunset appearance. Before the frosting dried a pressed sprinkles into the bottom layer and then sprinkled more around the edge of the cake stand. After cleaning up here and there I used melting chocolates and then drizzled it around the edges. After allowing the chocolate drizzle to cool in the fridge it was time for the gold. I used some edible metalic food paint (I got mine on amazon) and painted the now hardened drizzle. This took the most time because it was so small and detailed. Finally I used the remaining pink butter cream with the Wilton 1 M tip to decorate the top and placed macrons on the top and added a bit more sprinkles for the last decoration. I must confess I did NOT make those macarons. I had my wonderful husband pick them up from Macarons by Maddie Lu at the Mall of America. They were so beautiful and so delicious and so worth purchasing. If you want the recipe without a video check out this one at Copy Me That. (see more of Lauren’s Birthday in the Unicorn Birthday party post)
Portal Cube Cake
My boys ask for some of the craziest cakes. I have made a few Minecraft cakes over the years but as they have matured in age so has their taste in games. I have done a portal themed party and can now add Portal 2 to my list. My 9 year old asked for a portal 2 theme this year and decided he wanted a cake ‘cube’ cake. I had no idea what I was in for until I saw a cube plush online (left), So this is what I came up with (right).
I used a 3″x3″ square cake pan making 3 layers with buttercream frosting between each layer. Then I use the remaining batter to make cupcakes. I cored out each cupcake so they could fit nicely on each of the corners. I cut straws and inserted them into the corners then pushed the cupcakes onto them so they would stay. I then tinted the buttercream frosting and made stars all over the cake with the exception of the pink lines and hearts. I used a basic tip for that. In the end my son was happy with how it turned out so I’d call it a win.
My oldest daughter Lauren was once again scrolling through Instagram and saw what is apparently a ‘thing’ they call cookie cakes. It’s a giant sugar cookie cut out layered with frosting and then topped with another giant sugar cookie cutout. She decided it would be fun to make one for her little brother Matt who was turning 11. I thought it might be a good learning experience.
It looked cute enough but would it taste awesome? I like chewy cookies so I was concerned it would be a crunchy mess of crumbs. I was so wrong. My go to for cookie recipes is Sally’s Baking Addiction so I looked through her recipes and found a chocolate sugar cookie recipe. Since Matt loves mint Oreos we decided to make it chocolate with mint frosting in the middle. We used paper to create the numbers we wanted in the size we desired. Then I taught my daughter my not so secret trick of using the template to then cut out what we would need from waxed paper. She rolled out the dough and carefully cut the numbers and then baked them. While the 4 numbers were cooling she whipped up a batch of mint buttercream frosting using a recipe from Baking with Blondie. Let me tell you this frosting is Ah-mazing! It’s so delicious I can’t even find the words. It was perfect.
After plenty of time to cool Lauren laid out the first two cookies then using the large round tip she made what looked like small Hershey kisses all over the cookies. After covering both of the cookies she then laid down the second layer of cookies and repeated the frosting. After completing the frosting she placed mint Oreos on the top with a few chocolate chips for decorative flare.
We all enjoyed the cake and hands-down I would make another one. It was delicious and a perfect alternative for anyone who has a sweet tooth but isn’t a fan of cake. As you can see both kids were happy with the end result.
Lauren had so much fun making the cookie cake and while watching Nailed It was inspired to make a unicorn cake herself. She really enjoys learning to decorate cakes although her perfectionist personality can get the best of her. She tweaked a couple box cake mixes for the actual cake and tinted the batter so each of the layers was a different color. She then made some homemade buttercream frosting. After hours of tedious decorating she made some fondant for the unicorn’s horn. (she really enjoyed learning to use a variety of tips to make various designs and flowers). We rarely make fondant the hard way so we used the cheat method and made the marshmallow fondant. She used the marshmallow fondant for both the horn and the ears. After rolling it up on a straw she painted the horn with some gold edible metalic food paint. She also painted the inside of the unicorn’s ears. Despite a few hiccups it went well and she learned a lot. Here is how it turned out.
Team Umizoomi UmiCar Cake
My little 2 year old is really into Team Umizoomi thanks to Amazon Prime Video. Naturally for his 3rd birthday he wanted a Team Umizoomi Birthday celebration. He really likes UmiCar and wanted an UmiCar birthday cake.
I thought that should be easy enough because I could always frost UmiCar on a round cake; however, that seemed too basic. I decided I wanted to make an actual car. As luck would have it while thrifting with my husband we found a wilton car cake pan (Wilton 3-D Cruiser Cake) and got it for $2.50. It was perfect. I looked up the directions online and found them on the wilton website.
As per my usual I tweaked a boxed cake mix and baked the cake according to the wilton directions. After the cake car cooled I took to it with a sharp knife and a spoon to hollow up portions of the cake to look more like UmiCar. While the cake was cooling I make a couple batches of home made butter cream frosting, (buttercream recipe.) After allowing it to cool I did a layer of crumb frosting to clean it up a bit. After 30 min in the fridge I went back using the wilton #18 star tip filled the cake it with stars using the appropriate colored buttercream frosting.
I used a small round tip for the eyes and mouth and finished it off by placing the 3 Umizoomi characters inside. Isaac loved the cake and we all loved eating it!
Baking birthday cakes is a labor of love. They aren’t perfect but they are made with love. I hope that you feel the urge to give it a whirl and bake one for someone you love.