More like “Fantastic Beasts and How To Eat Them.”
According to recently released data from Google, “unicorn cake” was the top trending search for food in 2018. The mythical buttercream pony first trotted out onto the dessert scene a few years ago, but it’s galloped across social media in the past year, with more than 585,000 Instagram posts tagged #unicorncake and Pinterest flooded with tutorials on how to make the tall, cylindrical cake that’s decorated to resemble a unicorn head.
Although the exact origins of the frosted unicorn are shrouded in mystery, some say the first to make it in the form as we know it now was Jenna Rae Cakes in Winnipeg, Canada. Jenna Hutchinson, the shop’s co-owner and head decorator, started baking the delightful dessert after a customer made a special request in summer 2016 for a little girl’s birthday party and showed Hutchinson a picture of a very amateurish attempt at a unicorn head cake.
“It’s impossible to know [if we were the first ones to make it], but we definitely hadn’t seen them around,” Hutchinson tells The Post.
Jenna Rae’s cakes are typically taller than traditional cakes, so Hutchinson started with a tall cylinder made from four layers of cake and frosted with white buttercream. She used fondant to sculpt a horn and ears, painted on closed eyes with long lashes, piped on a colorful mane and tail of frosting and added some gum balls and mini-meringues for decoration.
She posted a picture of the cake to the bakery’s Instagram feed, where it quickly went viral.
“It got a lot of engagement, a lot of likes and comments. We [started getting] orders for them pretty consistently every week.”
She credits the online popularity of the cake with the fact that a savvy baker can easily re-create it and add their own touches.
“Anyone who knows how to design a cake can look at it and know the steps to take,” she says. “That’s why they’ve kind of exploded.”
At NY Cake in the Flatiron District, co-owner and co-founder Lisa Mansour says it’s been the most requested cake since it reopened in a new location in October (starting at $95 for a buttercream version and $195 for fondant). NY Cake also sell horn molds and even offers classes for those wishing to make unicorn cakes themselves. While the adorable, sparkling dessert looks quite impressive, Mansour insists it’s a doable project for most home cooks.
“With the right tools, it’s not hard at all,” she says.
Here, she lays out the process step by step.