There is something about the unadulterated squee an oncoming cake elicits. There’s a reason we choose cakes as a way to celebrate occasions and not say... quiche. Quiche does not say “YOU GOT INTO COLLEGE!” It says “Hey. Eggs.”
DOMA fell two months ago, which was reason to celebrate. But not as much reason as my bud Brian who is the human iteration of cake.
He’s the guy who always shows up, who brings the wine, the first to say TWSS in any situation appropriate or not, and whose Spotify stream could have been cribbed from Cher. I’d do anything for him, as evidenced when I attended a suburban community theater production of “Cats” last month at his request.
So when Facebook informed me it was his birthday I sunk into ‘bad friend guilt mode’ fast. Luckily, Brian is prone to tweets like this.
Only characters in Aaron Sorkin shows get such perfectly timed intel. GAME.ON.
How to Make a Rainbow Unicorn Cake
Step 1: Collect 2 boxes of yellow cake mix. I know I’m usually the one making everything from scratch, but this is not the time to get obsess over such details, YOU ARE BUILDING A RAINBOW, preservatives will only make you stronger. Yellow cake that shizz up. Make one box of batter at a time, so it’ll be easier to separate. Keep in fridge.
Step 2: Preheat oven as instructed, pull out a 6” cake pan. 6” is small, so you may need to buy this sucker. It's worth it, making this with an 8” would be too much (TWSS… Brian, your spirit lives within).
Step 3: Split the batter into three equal amounts (thats why you do 1 box at a time, easier than 6 equal parts) in three bowls. Now, add a fuckton of food coloring to each. Literally, you cannot add enough. It has no taste, and you want really dark coloring or else the cake will go pastel. I added actual cake coloring as well (pick it up at Michaels or Joann’s) but really, food coloring works fine.
Step 4: Bake as instructed, make sure its nice and firm, and then attempt to really get the cake out in one piece. Allow to cool, and then slice top off using serrated knife, just so much so that the top is 100% level. Put in freezer.
Step 5: In a mixer, make buttercream. It's so complicated!
Mixer: 1 stick butter. Mix. Add 3 cups confectioners sugar. Mix. Add dash of salt, splash of vanilla extract and 4 tbsp of heavy cream. Mix. Put a dab on the cake plate. Add the purple cake. (if you’re smart, you’ll make the cakes in order starting w purple). Make it nice and centered, now use a long flat spatula to put a nice, thin and even layer of frosting on. Back into the freezer!
Step 6: Add each cake once it's cool, adding another layer of buttercream, and then putting it back into the freezer. Work hard to keep the layers even or the cake will topple.
Once you get to the orange layer, take three bamboo skewers and put them through all the layers from the top to the bottom to keep them in place, and trim the tops of them as necessary so they don’t stick out. Add the red layer, and take a moment to just breathe and marvel!
Then dump the frosting on the top and using the spatula work your way down the cake sides. Keeping it nice and thin makes this easier. I like to get a nice hard edge at the top. Now back into the freezer.
Step 7: After 15 minutes, clean up the frosting using repeated soft strokes. At this point I sprayed on this pearlescent stuff from the cake store. Spray paint for cakes! Then I used this edible glitter and edible glitter stars and sprinkled that on too. Really, if we’re doing a glitter cake, IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH GLITTER? Now freeze as much as possible before moving it.
Earlier in the day, I’d ran (and I mean, RAN) into Michaels and asked the very lovely woman at the front “WHAT AISLE ARE UNICORNS IN?!?!?!”.
“Oh dear, I think we have some paint by number horses in aisle 8.”
“Actually, you might find a dragon or something in our mystical creatures section, aisle 12.”
(five minutes later breathless at checkout): “Ma’am? In case anyone ever asks again, aisle 12. Aisle 12 is your unicorn aisle!”
Moving a 14” cake is pretty ridic, including the moment when I turned on the A/C and a pile of cake glitter flew in my face. Prepare for last minute touchups and some deglitterization of yourself.
I surprised Brian at a local sushi place, one of those conveyer belt joints where he was dining with friends.
An onlooker commented “That is the best thing I have EVER seen.” Then she saw me pull out the unicorn mane and horn which I slipped onto Brian as he was fumbling with cake.
“OK, NO. THAT is the best thing I have ever seen.”
We commandeered a very large knife to the bewilderment of other diners and the delight of the staff. Brian started eating the cake with his hands. Sushi chefs photobombed him. We considered sending pieces of rainbow cake around the restaurant on the conveyer belt, on a high only Duncan Hines can provide.
After dinner, Brian sauntered off to the local bar to celebrate DOMA, still in his horn and mane, the remainders of his cake in hand. It took days for the pics to fall off Instagram and Facebook.
Food isn’t just to feed us. I believe strongly that food can elicit substantial emotion. There’s a reason we call it comfort food. Small gestures make huge impressions, its why we bring food to grieving friends, and sit down for a meal at weddings. But there is no food that can make one smile wider than a unicorn rainbow cake.
I know because a week later I tried the same method to make a fourth of July flag cake and it DGAFed all over the picnic table. Womp womp.