Unicorn Fairy Mermaid Birthday Cake

I’ve always been a big birthday fan. When I was a kid, I used to count down the days to my birthday starting about six weeks before the big day. I can vividly remember the birthday cakes that my mom would make. Delicious chocolate rolls with raspberry jam. White cake with ballerinas whose skirts were made of more cake and gorgeously decorated frosting. Go big or go home, right?

unicorn fairy mermaid cake

unicorn fairy mermaid cake

Birthdays provide the opportunity to celebrate the day my kids were born and marvel at all the time that has passed since that day. My kids love to hear the stories about the day they were born, and I love to retell it! Birthdays absolutely deserve special attention in my book, and it delights me to pass that tradition on to my kids.

When my youngest daughter said she wanted a unicorn fairy mermaid birthday cake for her upcoming 6th birthday, I was excited! Daunted, sure. But excited. She told me what she wanted just about 6 weeks before her birthday… yep, this kid is a direct descendent! Unusually, she couldn’t decide whether she wanted a vanilla cake or a chocolate cake. So I decided to make a striped cake! I ordered a bunch of awesome cake props from Amazon, and set to work to master a layer cake that didn’t require separate layers. I wanted a cake striped with chocolate and vanilla, but baked in one pan. Less cleanup! This took time and patience, and quite frankly, though I’ve now made this many times, the layers still don’t come out perfectly every time. This is real life.

That said, having solid recipes for both the white cake and the chocolate cake are absolutely essential. No matter what the stripes look like, it should taste great! I used this tried and true white cake recipe for the vanilla cake. It’s my go-to for white cake and it has never, ever failed me. Trust me when I say you’ll want to bookmark that one. I’ve included the recipe for my chocolate cake below, as well as the instructions to make a striped cake.

striped unicorn fairy mermaid cake

I hope you give this a try! If you make this and post it on Instagram, please tag @lalalunchbox and #lalalunchbox so I’m sure to see it!

Chocolate Birthday Cake


two cake batters
  • 1 cup all purpose flour 

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

  • 1/4 cup avocado or neutral oil

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1/2 c coffee

Prepare the Chocolate Cake

  1. Mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in bowl.

  2. Add in egg, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and mix on low until fully incorporated.

  3. Add coffee and gently stir. The batter will be very thin.

make sure layers are nearly cooked before adding more batter

make sure layers are nearly cooked before adding more batter

Make a striped cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an springform cake pan with parchment paper and spray sides and bottom.

  2. Pour a heaping 1/2 cup of white cake batter into springform pan, and tilt the pan until it covers the entirety of the bottom. Bake for 6-7 minutes, or until the cake seems not quite fully cooked. Remove from the oven.

  3. Pour a heaping 1/2 cup of chocolate cake batter on top of the first layer, again making sure to completely cover the white cake layer. Bake for another 6-7 minutes, following the same guidance on the previous layer.

  4. With each successive layer, the cake may need an additional minute or two in the oven (not more). You’ll need to keep a careful eye on the cake during the cooking process.

  5. Repeat the process until the batter is finished. When the final layer is poured on top, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

  6. Cool the cake for at least 30 minutes.

  7. After that resting time, I like to pop the cake in the freezer while I’m making frosting. A cold cake makes the frosting process much easier.

striped cake

Marshmallow Cream Cheese Frosting


  • 6 ounces cream cheese

  • 6 ounces of unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 6 ounces marshmallow fluff

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar

  • 1-2 teaspoons plant based, natural food coloring (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix on medium high until you have a uniformly smooth, creamy frosting.

  2. Use a spatula to spread evenly on cake. You’ll likely have extra frosting. Enjoy it on whatever you’d like!

  3. Decorate as intricately as you’d like!

unicorn fairy mermaid birthday cake

Olive Oil Apricot Cake (Dairy Free)

I've been in an olive oil groove lately with my baking. It started with this cake, and then I went back and remade this cookie recipe, and well, I'm having so much fun with all of it, why stop now? 

olive oil apricot cake

Apricots have started appearing in the markets and I couldn't be happier about it. Sure, apricots are a perfect snack all by themselves, but their slight tang is a perfect balance for sweet baked goods. I set to work on a dairy free cake recipe that incorporated apricots and cherries and all I can tell you is that this cake tastes like summer in every bite! 


It's got tangy apricots, rich, fruity olive oil, sweet cherries and bright lemon zest. Loads of fruit flavor in every bite. I made this cake so many times that I found myself eating it for breakfast! I've made the recipe dairy free by using coconut yogurt, but you can easily swap in plain yogurt if you'd prefer. I've also tested it with oat flour instead of all purpose flour and while it was still delicious, it was noticeably more dense and needed more baking time. I prefer the AP flour recipe, but feel free to test it out with oat flour if you're looking for something gluten free. 

Give this one a go. You won't be sorry! 

3/4 cup plain coconut yogurt (I used a brand that is cultured coconut cream, without fillers)
1/3 cup fruity olive oil (the taste really comes through here)
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk
2/3 cup sugar
zest of 2 whole lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 heaping teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
4 apricots
25-30 cherries
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350.
Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.
In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: yogurt, olive oil, eggs and the yolk (one at a time), zest and vanilla. Add the sugar and combine. 

apricot olive oil cake wet ingredients

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and combine thoroughly to form a batter. 

olive oil apricot cake batter

Take 2 apricots and chop into a small dice. Do the same with 20 cherries. Set aside. 
Slice the remaining apricots and cherries into thin slices. Set aside separately. 
Spread a thin layer of batter on the bottom of the pan.

olive oil apricot cake batter layer 1

Top with diced apricots.

add diced apricots

Add another layer of batter (don't worry if it's not all perfectly covered). Spread a thin layer of diced cherries on top.

olive oil apricot cake cherry layer

Add the remaining batter on top and place your sliced cherries and apricots on top.

add sliced fruit on top of olive oil cake

Bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Once completely cooled, dust with confectioners sugar. Makes about 15 squares (or more/less depending on how you slice it). 

olive oil apricot cake



Olive Oil Lemon Cake with Blueberries and Ricotta

olive oil lemon cake

I thought about making a pie today, in celebration of Pi Day (3/14). But truth be told, I'm not such a pie-making gal. It's the crust that intimidates me. My mom is a phenomenal pie maker. Her pies are the stuff of legend. She learned from her mom, who was also celebrated for her pies, with their perfectly balanced fruit fillings and their perfectly textured crusts. 

Not sure how or why I yearned to learn how to cook certain foods from my mom but not others. But that's how the cookie crumbled for me. So today, though I wanted to bake a pie, instead I baked a cake. 

I'm anxious for spring, so I wanted something light and fruity. Immediately I thought about an olive oil cake. I perused several recipes (like this one and this one) and then came up with my own.  

Without further ado, here's the recipe: 


1 cup whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup +2 tablespoons olive oil (I used a very fruity evoo)
3 large eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
Zest of 2 whole lemons
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pint blueberries


  • Preheat the oven to 350. Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment and spray with a neutral oil.
  • Combine the ricotta, olive oil, eggs, sugar, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Don't overbeat... this can all be done by hand. 
  • In a separate bowl, add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt). Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until fully combined.
  • Next, get a clean bowl and pour in half of the batter. Add half of the blueberries to half of the batter. This will be the bottom of the cake. Pour this into your springform pan. 
  • Add the remaining batter on top of this cake and decorate with blueberries as you'd like. 
  • If you'd like to make it easier, you can combine all of the batter and all of the blueberries. This method is best if you have a design in mind for the top. 
separate half batter and half berries
top with batter

When you have finished designing your blueberry top, bake for approximately 35 minutes. the top will be slightly golden brown and the texture inside will be moist and delicious. 

olive oil cake pre-baked

Once this is finished baking, set aside to rest and cool for at least 10 minutes. It's bright and satisfying, but not too sweet. The ricotta adds depth and the lemon zest and blueberries balance out the sugar. You'll absolutely notice a change in flavor with a change of olive oil in this cake. Experiment and see what you like best! Enjoy immediately, or savor it over the course of several days (if it lasts that long!) 

olive oil cake

Gluten Free Wacky Cake

gluten free wacky cake

Wacky Cake has long been a favorite in my house. It's super easy to whip up when friends come over and you want something sweet. It's great for those occasions when you need a cake but don't have enough eggs or milk. Admittedly this has happened to me more often than I am comfortable with, but frankly, with the Wacky Cake recipe practically committed to memory, I don't stress about this anymore. 

It's been the cake of choice at some of our birthday parties too. This year, I've altered the recipe slightly to accommodate some allergies and it's still a no-fail dessert! 

Wacky cake ingredients for gluten free cake

Gluten Free Wacky Cake

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I prefer the King Arthur brand, but also tested a recipe with Enjoy Life brand) 
1 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of white vinegar
1 cup of water
6 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used avocado oil)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 cup dairy free mini chocolate chips (optional. I used Enjoy Life brand)


Preheat the oven to 350. Mix all of the dry ingredients together and sift them to prevent the cocoa from getting clumpy. Add vinegar, water, oil and vanilla extract and stir until thoroughly combined.  Add chocolate chips. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper or grease with more of the vegetable oil. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. 



Gluten and Dairy Free Chocolate Roll

chocolate roll with confectioners sugar

When in doubt, call Mom. 

This applies to so many things in my life but especially things having to do with food. I asked my mom for chocolate cake recipes that didn't call for flour or dairy and just like that, she pulled up a recipe. But not just any recipe... this turned out to be the favorite of all the gluten free cakes that I tested in advance of my 4 year old's birthday party. 

ingredients for gluten free chocolate roll

The recipe was based on this one, which calls for strawberries, but my daughter is allergic to strawberries so initially I planned to substitute with blueberries. The first test of this chocolate roll proved that the blueberries, in all their succulent glory, were just too big and juicy to include so for the final cake, I eliminated them and went just with the blueberry jam. 

This cake was a huge hit. It's creamy and sweetly satisfying, easy to make and a crowd pleaser. I made two for my daughter's birthday party and they flew off the plates! 

Chocolate Roll with Blueberry Jam

1 cup of dairy free chocolate chips

3 tablespoons cold, strong coffee or orange juice

5 large eggs (I used duck eggs to accommodate a chicken egg allergy and used just 4)

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup blueberry jam

confectioners' sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet (with sides) with parchment paper, leaving several inches hanging over each of the short edges. Lightly grease the portion of the paper that fits inside the pan with vegetable oil. Melt the chocolate and coffee together in the top part of a double boiler (or a bowl that fits into a saucepan) set over barely simmering water. Mix the ingredients well and remove the top part of the pan from the heat. Let cool. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed (or use a hand mixer), beat the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla extract together for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture is thick and pale. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and blend it in thoroughly.

egg yolks and chocolate mixture

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until they stand in stiff peaks.

beat the egg whites to stiff peaks

Mix about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold the remaining whites into the chocolate mixture until the mixture has an even color. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it to make it even. Bake for 11 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven. Cover it with a slightly dampened paper towel or kitchen towel. Let cool. 

Spread the jam evenly over the top of the cake.

spread jam onto chocolate roll

Roll the cake starting on the long side using the parchment paper to help roll it along and keep the cake intact. I rolled it like sushi. Place on a serving platter, seam side down. Dust (using a strainer) with confectioner’s sugar. Makes 8-10 servings.