I’ve been anxiously anticipating this day for nearly two years. From the first recipes suggested to my literary agent to the final edits made on the images, it seems like I’ve been waiting forever for my book to be released out into the real world.
Time to throw confetti (or sprinkles) and celebrate with this Unicorn Cake – because dreams really do come true.
I always read about people referring to their first book as their babies. But for someone who created both a baby and a book at the same time and delivered her baby a year before the book was ever released, I can’t really relate to the analogy. With a baby, everything is a learning process. Each day, both Everett and I try to communicate better, respect one another, and learn a bit about patience from each other. We are discovering how to deal with new emotions like disappointment and frustration lately as he develops into an opinionated toddler. I try to teach him to be a good little human and he let’s me know if my tactics are working or not, haha. At the end of the day, I love him unconditionally because even if he threw a tantrum in public, we can always come home and try again the next day.
With a book, everything is finite. At some point, there is a print date where you just have to be done. Since I am still constantly learning as both a cake designer and photographer, this was a hard deadline to swallow. At the end of the day, the book will be out in the wild for anyone to pick-up, read, enjoy, hate, love, criticize, etc. There is no turning back. There is no trying again the next day with better snacks and a longer nap to help keep baby happy.
This time last year, I’m not sure what terrified me more – trying to keep a tiny infant alive or knowing that one day my words and photos would be in print for the world to see. Thankfully, fear is a great motivator to get things done right, and I am confident that some of my best work lies between the pages of “Layered.” Also, like babies, I think critics can sense fear; so today I wear my big-girl pants and will scream from the rooftops, “LAYERED IS HERE!”
I’ve been fortunate to be able to live out so many of my dreams so far. I opened my dream bakery at 24, had my dream wedding (and husband) at 26, moved to my dream city at 29, and gave birth to my dream bebe at 30. None without a lot of hard work and patience, but I undoubtedly know how lucky I am and am beyond grateful everyday.
I’ve been enamoured by cookbooks ever since I got into cooking during my college years - my ever-growing cookbook collection confirms it. It wasn’t until I was getting ready to close the doors of my bakery and move to Vancouver that the idea of writing my own even popped into my brain. Ever since then, it’s been a goal I couldn’t quit. I’ve been dreaming of the day where a hardcover book filled with glossy images, the name on the spine reading ‘Tessa Huff’ would sit on bookstore shelves next to some of my baking idols like Greenspan, Tosi, Beranbaum, and Stewart for years.
I’ve always loved the quote “Dreams don’t work unless you do,” and this proves again that they certainly can come true!
The name of this cake was inspired by blogging dessert queen Naomi of Baker’s Royal. She recently made unicorn cupcakes topped with rainbow buttercream, gold leaf, and about 50 different kinds of sprinkles. Since then, I’ve wanted to make my own version of a “unicorn” cake that was a bit over-the-top and whimsical – something to really celebrate with. The result? Stripes, sprinkles, sugar pearls, and gold leaf! And for the cake flavour? The rhubarb crisp filling from my Riesling Rhubarb Crisp Cake in “Layered.”
Yellow Cake Recipe
Using this recipe, but baked in three 6-inch rounds for about 24 to 26 minutes.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) eggwhites
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the egg whites and sugar briefly by hand. Place a few inches of water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. Heat egg white mixture until it reaches 155 to 160 F degrees on a candy thermometer – or until hot to the touch. Once hot, remove the bowl and carefully return it to the electric mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment, mix on high until medium-stiff peaks, or the outside of the bowl returns to room temperature – about 8 minutes. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla and butter – a couple tablespoons at a time. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until smooth.
1 ¾ cup fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 cup fresh rhubarb, cut into 1⁄4-inch pieces
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and cook them over medium-high heat, stirring intermittently with a wooden spoon, until the juices start to bubble. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the fruit starts to break down. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix 1 ½ cups of the buttercream until silky smooth. Add 1⁄3 cup of rhubarb compote (reserve the rest for serving) and mix until combined.
½ cup quick- cooking oats
¼ cupsliced almonds
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, brown sugar, flour, butter, honey, cinnamon, and salt with a wooden spoon until combined. The mixture should resemble clumps of sand. Sprinkle it over the lined baking sheet and bake, stirring halfway through, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let it cool and crumble the mixture into smaller pieces to make cutting the cake easier.
Once the cakes have completely cooled, level them and choose which layer will be at the bottom. Place it on a cake plate or serving dish. Spread on about ¾ cup of the rhubarb buttercream with an offset spatula. Sprinkle it with about a 1⁄2 cup of the oat crumble. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat with the buttercream and remaining crumble, finishing with the final layer. Frost the top and sides cake with the remaining vanilla buttercream.
Use an icing comb on the frosted cake and chill for about 15 minutes to firm up the ridges. Tint a portion of the remaining buttercream pink, and fill in the gaps of the chilled cake by icing right over it. Clean up the sides by using an icing smoother or bench scrape to reveal the stripes.
To create the top portion of the cake, I used a closed star tip to pipe spirals of frosting around the edges. Using a different color, I piped a second row of spirals on top. For the bottom border, I piped individual rosettes. Use tweezers or the tip of a parking knife to apply the edible gold leaf.