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Narwhal Cake

Next up in my animal cake series I’m making this adorable narwhal cake!

It’s made with moist, 6-inch vanilla cake layers and delicious vanilla bean buttercream. It’s just as cute as it is tasty!

image of an adorable narwhal cake made with buttercream

Making this Narwhal Cake: Step by Step Tutorial

Let’s walk through each step of this cake together to make sure it turns out as amazing as possible!

Step 1: Bake and Trim Your Cake Layers

Line three 6-inch round cake pans with parchment rounds and grease with non-stick baking spray or homemade cake release.

Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 32-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let them cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Flip the cake layers onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

Level the cake layers with a serrated knife once they’re fully cooled. Stack the layers on top of each other and trim a tapered edge around the base of the cake. It should almost look like a scull!

image of blue cake layers being trimmed to make a narwhal cake

Save the cake tops and trimmings and place them a bowl. Break them into small crumbs using a fork, then mix them with 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla buttercream (the amount you need will vary based on how much you trim your cake layers).

The mixture should resemble cake pop batter, and have a consistency like play dough. It should be easy to shape in your hands, but not greasy. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Step #2: Make the Buttercream Frosting

While the cake layers bake and cool, make the vanilla buttercream frosting. You can use either an electric hand mixer or a stand mixer.

If your frosting seems too thick after mixing together all your ingredients, add in additional cream (1 teaspoon at a time). Or if the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time).

If you’re unsure how thick your frosting should be, you can learn what consistency you’re looking for in my frosting consistency post.

image of vanilla american buttercream in bowl that's been stirred with a spatula to make it super smooth

Step 3: Frost the Cake Layers and Add the Tail

Next it’s time to assemble the cake! I recommend freezing your cake layers for about 20 minutes before stacking them. It will make them was easier to handle and frost.

Stack and frost the cake layers on a 10-inch greaseproof cake board. You need a large board to have room to make the narwhal’s tail. I recommend using a dab of frosting to help stick the bottom cake layer to the board.

image of a cake ball mixture being used to a add a tail to a narwhal cake

Spread an even layer of frosting between each cake layer with an offset spatula.

Use the cake pop mixture to shape the narwhal’s tail. Add a thin coat of frosting (crumb coat) around the cake and tail.

Smooth with a small offset spatula and/or acetate sheet, then chill the cake in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.

image of a whale shaped cake being crumb coated

Step 4: Add the Second Layer of Frosting

Place 1/4 cup of white buttercream in a small piping bag and set aside. Color the remaining buttercream light blue with a small squirt of gel food coloring.

Cover the cake in a thicker layer of the blue buttercream and smooth using an acetate sheet. Chill the cake again until the frosting is firm to the touch. This will make it much easier to add on the narwhal’s tummy and face.

image of blue buttercream being smoothed onto a narwhal cake

Step 4: Making this Little Narwhal’s Face

While the cake chills, roll 1/3 cup of white fondant into a long, tapered log. Twist this around a wooden skewer to make the narwhal’s horn.

Once it’s shaped, brush a tiny bit of water or clear liquor between the spirals to keep them in place and prevent them from unwinding and set aside to dry.

Roll out the black and pink fondant and use a circle cutter to make two small circles to make the eyes, mouth and cheeks.

I recommend using small circle cutters to get the shape of the eyes just right.

image of fondant cut out to make the face on a narwhal cake

Step 5: Add the Finishing Touches

The final step is to add the narwhal’s tummy and facial features!

Remove the cake from the freezer or fridge. Use the white buttercream to pipe and smooth a heart-shaped tummy onto your narwhal.

Pipe two small fins next to the the tummy, then add the fondant eyes, cheeks, and mouth and enjoy!

image of a party hat being added to a narwhal birthday cake

Narwhal Cake Substitutions and Swaps

Below are some swaps and substitutions that can be made in this marble cake recipe.

  • All Purpose Flour – This recipe turns out best with AP flour, but you can use a gluten free flour blend or cake flour if that’s all you have on hand.
  • Granulated Sugar – I do not recommend reducing the amount of sugar or changing the type of sugar, as it will change the texture of the cake layers.
  • Buttermilk – You can also use full fat yogurt, sour cream, whole milk, or an alternative yogurt or milk (almond, soy, oat) if you’re dairy free.
  • Egg whites – You can also use 3 whole eggs in place of the egg whites in this recipe. Or if you have an egg allergy you can use a flaxseed egg or vegan egg replacer.
  • Vegetable Oil – You can use any flavorless oil in this recipe, so canola or even sunflower oil would work great!
  • Vanilla Extract – Other extracts can also be used in place of the vanilla extract like coconut extract or hazelnut extract.
  • Unsalted Butter – If you only have salted butter on hand you can use it in place of the unsalted butter in this recipe. Just be sure to omit the salt that this frosting recipe calls for. You can also use vegan butter in its place!
  • Heavy Cream – Whole milk or alternative milk (soy, almond, oat) will work fine in this frosting recipe if that’s what you have on hand.

Tips for Making The Best Narwhal Cake:

  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better, so be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and soft.
  • Use an acetate sheet to help you get your final coat of frosting super smooth.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes it easier to stack and frost.
  • If you want to make a larger, 8-inch version of this cake, double this cake recipe to make 4, 8-inch cake layers.
  • Make this narwhal cake vegan or dairy free if needed! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the buttermilk and heavy cream, and use vegan butter sticks in place of the butter. For the eggs I recommend using an egg replacer like this.
image of chelsey white of chelsweets with a narwhal cake made as part of her animal cake series

Making This Narwhal Cake In Advance & Storage Tips:

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.
image of an adorable narwhal cake made with buttercream

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you make this narwhal birthday cake, I’d love to hear what think of it! Let me know by leaving a rating below.

If you plan to share on social media, you can tag me @chelsweets! Also use #chelsweets so that I can see your amazing creations on social media.

Yield: 20 servings

Narwhal Cake

image of an adorable narwhal cake made with buttercream

This adorable narwhal cake is made with moist vanilla cake layers and delicious vanilla bean buttercream. It's just as cute as it is tasty!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 34 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 34 minutes

Ingredients

Vanilla Cake Recipe

  • 2 cups (260 grams)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (400 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6 grams)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3 grams)
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (150 grams) - 1 and 1/3 sticks
  • 2/3 cup egg whites (or about 5 egg whites) (155 grams)
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (228 grams)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil (14 grams)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (4 grams)
  • blue gel food coloring (if desired)

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (339g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla bean past or vanilla extract (8g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (2g)
  • 5 cups powdered sugar (625g)
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream or whipping cream (30g)

Decorations

  • 1 wooden skewer
  • 1/3 cup white fondant
  • 1/4 cup black fondant
  • 1 Tbsp pink fondant

Suggested Equipment

Instructions

Vanilla Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease three, 6-inch cake pans with baking spray and parchment rounds or homemade cake release.
  2. Mix together all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or hand mixer to mix on a low speed until combined.
  3. Mix the unsalted butter into the dry ingredients on a medium-low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
  4. Pour in the egg whites and mix on low until just incorporated and the batter looks wet.
  5. Mix in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla  on a low speed. Scrape the sides and bottom of of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  6. If desired, add in gel food coloring and stir by hand with a rubber spatula until the batter is evenly colored.
  7. Divide batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. I like to use a digital kitchen scale to weigh my pans, and ensure they all have the same amount of batter. This guarantees the layers will bake to be the same height.
  8. Bake for 32-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  9. Allow the pans to cool for 10 minutes, then run a small offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan. Flip the cake layers onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  10. Level the cake layers with a serrated knife once they're fully cooled. Stack the layers on top of each other and trim a tapered edge around the base of the cake.
  11. Save the cake tops and scraps and crumble them with a fork in a bowl. Mix them with a spoonful of vanilla buttercream. The mixture should resemble cake pop batter, and should have a consistency like play dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
  12. If you want to make your cake layers in ahead of time, level them then wrap and freeze themIf you make these cake layers in advance and freeze them, let them thaw for about 20 minutes before making your cake. The cake layers should still be slightly cold to the touch, which will make it easier to assemble your cake.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

  1. Beat the unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds until smooth with a paddle attachment and stand mixer or a hand mixer.
  2. Mix in the vanilla extract and salt on a low speed.
  3. Slowly add in the powdered sugar and mix on a low speed. Half way through add in the heavy cream to make it easier to mix. I like to place a kitchen towel over my mixer to contain any powdered sugar clouds.
  4. Mix on low until the ingredients are fully incorporated and the desired consistency is reached.
  5. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 tsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (quarter of a cup at a time).
  6. Cover the frosting with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.

Assembling this Narwhal Cake

  1. Stack the cake layers on a greaseproof cardboard cake round or flat plate.
  2. Spread a small dab of buttercream on the center of the board, to help your cake layer stay in place. Center the first cake layer the cake board.
  3. Spread an even layer of buttercream on top of the cake layer with a large offset spatula. Repeat with remaining cake layers.
  4. Place the top cake layer upside down to make it easier to frost.
  5. Cover the cake in a thin layer of white buttercream and smooth using a bench scraper. Use the cake pop mixture to shape the narwhal's tail. Cover it with a thin layer of frosting as well.
  6. Chill the cake in the fridge (30 minutes) or freezer (10 minutes) until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  7. Place 1/4 cup of white buttercream in a small piping bag and set aside. Color the remaining buttercream light blue.
  8. Cover the cake in a thicker layer of the blue buttercream and smooth using a bench scraper. Chill the cake again until the frosting is firm to the touch. This will make it much easier to add on the narwhal's tummy and face.
  9. Place the remaining blue frosting into a small piping fir with a large round piping tip and set aside.

Decorating this Narwhal Cake

  1. While the cake chills, roll 1/3 cup of white fondant into a long, tapered log. Twist this around a wooden skewer to make the narwhal's horn.
  2. Once it's shaped, brush a tiny bit of water or clear liquor between the spirals to keep them in place and prevent them from unwinding and set aside to dry.
  3. Roll out the black fondant and pink fondant and use a circle cutter or bottle cap to cut out two 1-inch circles to make the eyes, cheeks and mouth.
  4. Remove the cake from the freezer or fridge and smooth a heart shaped spot of white buttercream onto the narwhal's tummy. Pipe two small fins next to the the tummy, then add the fondant eyes, cheeks, and mouth and enjoy!

Notes

Tips for Making the Best Narwhal Cake

  • Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure, then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better, so be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated. This will ensure your cake layers are tender and soft.
  • Use an acetate sheet to help you get your final coat of frosting super smooth.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes it easier to stack and frost.
  • Make this narwhal cake vegan or dairy free if needed! Use your favorite type of dairy free milk to replace the buttermilk and heavy cream, and use vegan butter sticks in place of the butter. For the eggs I recommend using an egg replacer like this.
  • If you want to make a larger, 8-inch version of this cake, double this cake recipe to make 4, 8-inch cake layers.

Making This Narwhal Cake In Advance & Storage Tips

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and make it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too, or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Yield

20

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 437Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 10gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 66mgSodium 272mgCarbohydrates 61gFiber 0gSugar 52gProtein 2g
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