Unicorns and Rainbows Cake
Unicorns and Rainbows, funfetti, confetti cake, whatever you call it—something mythically angelic happens when you fold sprinkles into batter.
This type of cake is something much more than a colorful cake. This Unicorns and Rainbows cake is an ode to one of my former places of employment—Baked & Wired in Washington D.C.
I hope everyone down in D.C. recovered from the crazy snowstorm that was Jonas. I could only imagine how horrible those brick-lined sidewalks were in Georgetown.
I’m not a cupcake person. The cupcake craze—set off by Magnolia’s in NYC—spread outward and is still a thing, heck there are shows dedicated to these mini cakes. To me cupcakes, at least tasty cupcakes, are hard to come by. Most specimen suffer from terribly dry cakes and insulin-spiking sugary frosting. For the $3+ most cupcakes are going for, I gave up on trying to find good cupcake.
Baked & Wired changed cupcakes for me completely. The D.C. Bakery took classic American flavors—Texas Sheet Cake, German Chocolate, Vanilla-on-Vanilla—and transformed them into cupcake sizes. Each of their cupcakes maintained a moist dense cake and a complimentary (not over bearing) frosting. My favorite part of the cupcakes were the wrappers. I loved peeling on the thick parchment paper and scraping the crumbs from the wrapper with a fork. Each morning I’d savor a cupcake wrapper (saving the actual cupcake for dinner) in the same sort of fashion. A strip tease really, slowly peeling the outer garments like that and using all of my will to not scoff the actual cupcake down.
I was lucky enough to work for the owners, Tony and Teresa, and I have nothing but wonderful memories. Working me for fine tuned my love of cakes and baked goods. I hope I can make them proud.
In honor of Baked and Wired, I made a cake-sized version of the bakery’s strong staple flavor—Unicorns and Rainbows. Among the frequent visiting college crowd of GW and AU customers, it was called “uniporn and rainhoes.” Classy, I know.
What makes this Unicorns and Rainbows Cake moist and extra vanilla-y is the use of homemade pudding in the cake batter. In order to distinguish the frosting to be extra cream-cheese-y, I cut down on the butter from ½ cup (1 stick) to ¼ cup (½ stick) and kept the cream cheese to 20 ounces.
I divided the frosting and colored the separate batches. Whenever the bakery was switching to a new color frosting for the Unicorns and Rainbows cake, they’d always adorn one cupcake with the two frostings. The rule was that this special unicorn and rainbow cupcake was free to the recipient. Whoreceived the cupcake was up to the discretion of the staff. I remember giving several special unicorn and rainbow cupcake to a few small children.
Though I can’t peel off the cupcake wrappers, I know this Unicorns and Rainbows cake is the closest I can get to Baked & Wired’s Unicorns and Rainbows cupcake. Pudding-moist cake, tangy frosting, and a plenitude of sprinkles—these ingredients are some of the best things in life.
- ½ cup sprinkles
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon fine salt
- 1 ¼ cups (2½ sticks, 10 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cups vegetable oil
- 2½ cups granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs, 2 egg yolks, room temperature
- 1¼ cup French Vanilla Pudding (homemade or store bought)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 20 ounces (2½ 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2 pounds powdered sugar, sifted
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Gel food coloring
- Sprinkles, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch cake pans with baking spray. Set aside.
- In a small bowl toss to lightly coat the sprinkles with flour. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour,baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 to 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. On the lowest speed, add the oil.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter one cup at a time.
- Next, add the eggs one at a time along with the egg yolks. Scrape the sides as needed. Finally add pudding and vanilla extract. Fold in sprinkles.
- Divide the batter evenly among the pan, use an off set spatula to smooth the tops of the cake batter. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs. Do not over bake these cakes!
- Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pans for 5 to 10 minutes. Invert the cakes from the pans allowing them to cool on a wire rack. Let the cakes cool completely for several hours or overnight.
- In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter at a medium-high speed until light, lump free, and fluffy, about 5 to 8 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as need. Turn the mixer on again and add the vanilla extract.
- With the mixer on the stir speed slowly add the powdered sugar.
- Divide the frosting into two bowls and tint each batch a different color.
- Level off the cakes so each layer is flat.
- Fill two piping bags: one with the orange frosting and one with the blue frosting. Starting from the center of the cake layer, frost a large dot and then surround the dot with a thick size-able ring-like bulls-eye. Alternate colors with each ring. Repeat with the second layer.
- Do a light crumb coating with the blue frosting on the outside of the cake and let the cake chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
- Frost the cake with a final coat of frosting of blue frosting. Let the cake chill for a final 15 minutes. Evenly apply bands of orange around the cake. Use an off set spatula to blend the two colors together. Don't over work the blending process. Add a decorating tip of your choice to the orange frosting bag and finish the top of the cake with a decorative boarder. Garnish the top with sprinkles.