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Eats & Drinks | Rainbow Cakes: Everything You Need to Know (Including How to Make One!)

By Mike James

Who can resist a piece of indulgent chocolate cake, an expertly iced cupcake, or even a delicate colorful macaron? Cakes are what get us through, aren’t they? It’s no wonder cakes are big business. These days, they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, for every occasion, and are iced in a rainbow of colors. Cake has a long history, but the 13th century offerings of cake (more of a bread than a cake, really) are a far cry from the exuberant creations of today. 

Just as cake parlors are flourishing, baking at home has also turned a corner. Home bakers are no longer satisfied with fairy cakes and a lemon drizzle; they are now attempting to master much more sophisticated creations. Not only have cake flavors and fillings taken a weird turn (think bacon and banana, or strawberry and basil), cakes are being created in every color under the rainbow, too. 

Hold on to your baking hats, the rainbow cake is a craze firmly hitting the home-baking scene. Birthdays and afternoon tea have never been so colorful! The rainbow cake is perfect for those bakers not particularly enamored with the intricacies of icing.  

Rainbow cake with candy filling

A plain swoop of butter icing over the top and sides of a rainbow cake are all that you need to conceal the wonderful and colorful surprise inside. In fact, the plainer the icing looks on the outside, the better. That way, nothing detracts from the awesomeness within. 

If you are feeling confident with your cake baking skills – or even if you’re not – why not make your next baking session dedicated to a rainbow cake creation? And why not keep your baking under wraps to give your family a big surprise when you cut the cake at tea-time. Wow! Everyone will be truly dazzled by your baking expertise! Read on to find out how to make a rainbow cake to wow. 

Are you ready to get baking? Let’s go. First, you’ll need a large bowl of vanilla cake mix. Use your favorite recipe, or here’s one from the BBC Good Food website.  

Ingredients:

1 whole stick butter (125g) softened, plus extra for greasing 

1 cup (225g) plain flour 

2/3 cup (150g) golden caster sugar  

3 medium eggs 

1 tsp baking powder 

Pinch of salt 

1 tsp vanilla extract 

Edible food coloring  – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple (and optional pink) 

For the butter icing, here are the ingredients (recipe here

2 whole sticks butter (250g), softened 

1 tsp vanilla extract 

2.5 cups (600g) icing sugar 

2 tablespoons milk or water 

Tips when making your rainbow cake:

First, follow your recipe instructions to make your big bowl of vanilla cake mix. Then, divide your mixture into 6 bowls. Mix in your coloring a few drops at a time into each lot of cake mixture. Be sure to get it mixed thoroughly and make the colors quite strong as they lose some of their brightness during the baking process. 

Don’t use the usual amount of cake mixture as you would for each layer as you would for a 2-layer cake. This is a tower of a cake, so the layers need to be quite thin. 

Grease and line your baking tins. You may want to do this in two goes, using 3 tins. Bake the first 3 in the oven at 180C/160C fan/gas (or 350F) for 12 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. Ideally, have all 3 tins on the same shelf. When cooked, gently turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool. Wash the tins and bake the remaining 3 layers. 

You’ll need to leave the cake layers to cool before assembling the rainbow tower! Put a thin layer of buttercream icing between each cake layer (except on the bottom). Smother the rest on top and around the sides of the cake. Use a palette knife and dip into a jug of hot water to stop the icing from sticking. 

If you must, sprinkle some multi-colored sprinkles across the top when done. 

Ta-da! That’s all there is to it. Now you have an awesome, colorful cake to wow your friends and family. Invite the neighbors in for a slice, too. You’ll be crowned the street’s cake baker extraordinaire. You never know, it could be the cake that spurs you on to apply for the next series of TV’s Great British Bake Off. The new series has left the BBC and has been reinvented on Channel 4. 

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