Wednesday, February 24, 2010

rainbow cake

"Cooking should be approached, like love;

with wild abandon, or not at all"

- Harriet von Horn

With this in mind, I thought it was time to reacquaint ourselves with Rainbow Cake.

I think I've shared it before, but I've received a few emails about it recently as it's included in my header.

Besides which, Julie @ Being Ruby has recently given me an incredibly generous airing on her blog and I'm expecting a few visitors. Coming from her accomplished and elegant blog, I'm afraid they'll be a little disappointed with the pedestrian content and suburban ramblings.

Then it occured to me, what better way to woo and beguile than with sugar, butter and fairy sprinkles?

Hello there my lovely.....

The most important thing you need to know about this cake is that it is not in any manner difficult.

I am the world's worst cake decorator and would rather rub myself with a brick than slave over fondant and marzipan. I also find baking instructions to be a little bossy and over prescriptive. However, with a little adherence to a couple of golden rules, this recipe finds a happy medium.

This is the cake that will make an impression, without making you feel as if you've entered the seventh circle of hell.

Martha would think this cake was cheating. I love that.

We actively find reasons to make this cake....if you come to visit, this is what the kids would insist we serve.

You start off with a basic butter cake recipe.

My recipe is at the end if you want to use it.

I'm showing you this picture so you can see that the recipe I use is not runny, it's quite stodgy....but in a good way.

You could just as easily buy packet cake, you'll most likely need 3.

JD made this recently for a school project.

I love the juxtaposition of the R.M. Williams Longhorn t-shirt covered by the blue cupcake apron.

He's secure in his masculinity. He even proudly took this cake to his all boy school for a "Master Chef" competition.

You'll need to have a number of bowls to divide the mixture into, depending on how many layers you can be bothered doing.

It's a cup and a half per layer.

You really need to use the gel colours. The watery ones are too weak and you'll be disappointed.

They're a little more expensive, however, I've made this cake about six times and there is still plenty of gel left.

NB: It's really important you use this LEMON yellow, not Buttercup comes out orange.

So now I make an extra orange layer to the cake.

You stir the gel into each bowl. This is so much fun.

Everyone wants to help out at this point.

I only have two cake pans of this size, so I can only cook two at a time.

They're so thin though, that it only takes about 12 minutes for each batch.

You just have to repeat the process, I promise it's not that annoying.

You get just enough time to lick out the empty bowls from the previous batch.

I've timed it to perfection.

This cake just keeps on giving.

See how fantastically, sunshiney that lemon yellow totally makes the cake.

Hey presto.....12 minutes later....

Flip them out onto cake coolers and repeat the process with the other bowls of batter.

Line the pans with baking paper and there's no need to wash or re-grease in between batches. We're far too lazy for that.

Once they've all cooled down you can start assembling.

The trick to having the cake staying upright and not becoming the Leaning Tower of Pisa is to skim your bread knife along the top of each cake to make sure it's completely flat.

Then flip it over so you're icing the hard, un-crumby cooked bottom of the cake.

Otherwise you end up with crumbs stuck into your icing and you'll be cursing like a longshoreman.

Okay, you're just going to have to trust me on this....

I hate to be bossy, but sometimes you just have to yield to fussiness for really good results.

Once you've finished assembling all the layers, you then cover the whole thing with a thin layer of icing.

This is called the "crumb layer".

Put it in the fridge for about an hour to harden up.

This means that when you do the final layer, there will be no crumbs ruining the finished result.

Much as I hate to admit actually does make a difference.

I curse these Martha moments that totally validate her pedantic ways.

Final layer.

You can pipe around the bottom to finish it if you feel like it....or not.

I've also wrapped ribbon around the bottom of it to give it a final flourish.

The first time I made this it was for Lucy's confirmation.

I made it while they were out of the house and they had no idea what it looked like.

When they returned, I told her that I know she wanted a colourful cake, but I just ran out of time and hoped that the sprinkles on the top were enough colour for her.

Then she cut into it and squealed at the top of her lungs.


This is the five layer version without the orange layer.....JD and Daddy still look pretty happy I think.

Eating a rainbow will do that for you.

Here are the recipes:

Basic Cake Mixture:

I use this for everything from bar cakes, cupcakes, to this cake. I add cocoa to it for chocolate cake, orange zest for orange cake. It's the recipe my Mum has used all her married life and the first cake I ever cooked. It's the best.


1 and a half cups of Self Raising Flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup of milk
2 eggs
125g (4 oz) butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract.

Preheat oven to 180oC conventional or 160oC fan-forced.

Put all ingredients in a bowl and beat on medium speed for five minutes. That's it.


500g sifted icing sugar
160g unsalted butter, at room temperature
50ml whole milk
a couple of drops of vanilla extract.

Cream butter and sugar together in your electric mixer.
Put the vanilla extract into the measure of milk.
Then pour slowly into electric mixer on a slow speed until it's all incorporated.

If you want to live on the edge and use cream cheese frosting:


600g icing sugar, sifted
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, cold.

Beat icing and butter together in your electric mixer.
Add the cream cheese in one go and beat on medium speed until incorporated.
Then crank it up to medium high until it's light and fluffy....about 5 minutes. (no more)


Click here for all the equipment & colours you'll need to make the Rainbow Cake


  1. I think you have the best blog ever.

    I am going to make this. NOW. My kids are telling me too... so with your quote in mind... why the heck not?

    P.S. I'd rather eat a brick than fondant. Not my favourite thing to work with or eat, so why bother?

  2. Oh wow! I am soooo impressed. I'm trying to think up a reason to bake this cake.
    And I am soooo with Gail on the fondant thing. Yeck.
    Do you think you could put up a permanent link to this in your sidebar so we can find it easily whenever we want it???? Pleeeease???!!

  3. Wow my kids would love it! I love that you got the gang to do your baking for you, lol! Maybe thats what I should do with my kiddos! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. I have recently discovered your blog and I am smitten! I have actually gone back to the beginning and read every entry (hope you don't think I am a crazy stalker now!). Anyway, I have wanted to ask about this cake and was thrilled to see todays post contains the recipe and instructions for it, just need to find out though, where do you buy the gel colours from? Emma

  5. Brilliant. The secret is the gel colours, isn't it? They are so vibrant and not at all insipid. What a crazy surprise to cut into what seems like a plain cake and then to see all that colour!

  6. that is quite amazing. Really it is. I didn't know about gel colours, not being much of a baker. I will look them up. I see they are French so they Must Be High Quality.

  7. Holy cow girl, what a cake...and so masterfully made by the handsome JD, nice pic at the end JD!

    Oh I did have a moment when I saw some really cute little hands near the end...awh!

    I'm sure you would have won over new readers with this totally decadent post missy :)

  8. Meredy!!
    This is a fabulous post of my most favourite cake!!...
    I feel terrible now as i have already put up my travel post.. I think I'm going to update the last post with a link to this!! No-one should miss out of the Famous and Fabulous Rainbow Cake!! haha

    You're a delight!! xxx Julie

  9. What a fantastic post! My 12 year old is just about to go down to theatre in a couple of hours...sitting here in the hospital room...we just read your post together...he hasnät been able to eat since Saturday...and had to drink 4 litres of a ghastly enema yesterday evening. SO GUESS WHAT WE ARE GOING TO MAKE TOMORROW!!! Thank you thank you thank you... It's really cheered him up :D God Bless Julie x

  10. Have been intrigued by the Rainbow Cake since first discovering your blog. It will be sure to get a trial-run here!

  11. You make me piss myself Meredy. You really should be a writer. Seriously, you are funny.
    Loving the comment about the brick and Martha.
    Love the cake and the blog. oh and you too!!

  12. MOTH says 'Luxury!!' When we were kids we could only dream of that. We were lucky to get a cake in Black & White!
    Millie ^_^ (MOTH's comment writer)

  13. Thanks you thank you!! I want to make this NOW but will save it for my daughters 4th birthday - I hope she squeals with delight too!!

  14. Meredy just made my day! What a fantastic post. The cake, your gorgeous family...your artistic flair and prose in presenting the story. The printer button has been pushed and I am off to pop this one in Meredith's recipe folder. The kids are going to love it!!
    Jeanne :)

  15. The cake!!!!!!!!!!

    Lucy's confirmation with this fabulous cake was the first post I ever read of yours so I will never forget it! The day I discovered you.....oh, happy day :)

    Maybe I should make this for my own birthday since no one else ever seems to remember cake!!


  16. Dear Meredy,
    Well, what can I say. That Rainbow cake cannot be beaten. I love the story about Lucy thinking it was just the sprinkles that provided the colour. I would have loved to have seen her face when she cut into it !!
    Thanks for sharing this terrific cake and showing us how to do it, with your little tips for a beautiful finish.
    Mind you, I am tempted by the left over mixture at the back of one of your photographs. I could eat that all day until I was sick !! XXXX

  17. I'm just over from Julie's accomplished and elegant blog and I'm a little disappointed with the pedestrian content and suburban ramblings. Quick, give me a big slice of cake to keep me quiet.

    This is a wonderful, magnificent cake and will surely cement your reputation as High Empress of the Domestic Internet. I love to imagine Lucy's face, and you all look like you have so much fun making it. The crumb layer of icing is a revelation to me. Another slice now please.

  18. That is probably the best kid oriented cake I have ever seen! Will definitely make it.

  19. brilliant! i am going to make this for easter.

    thank you for the most unpedantic cooking
    demonstration ever!

  20. Thanks for sharing your recipe and method, it has inspired me to give it a go. I am generally not very good with cakes but we'll see what happens!
    Nellie xx

  21. Veeeerry cool. Am going to try this for Carys's 5th birthday party in a couple of weeks... now to find those gel colours!

  22. Yum. I think that is about all I need to say about that. What a perfect way to make a kid very very happy.

  23. Amazing creation. You do have a way with a cake. I really enjoy your blog and very glad you like writing it.

  24. Meredy I have a few short minutes to visit before the connection times out. Up here in the wee shed in the mountains at 1700m altitude I have nothing but potatoes and reblochon cheese. Can't wait to get back to Toulouse to make it. Will be needing a rainbow by then... You'll all find out why on Sunday... PS - am feeling very proud of myself for prescheduling a post for tomorrow - and you're mentioned in mine too. Guess you're just internationally loved =)

  25. Meredith my new friend, I tagged you in my blog today! I hope you have fun with it!

    Megan :)

  26. Meredy - this looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G...what a fantastic surprise for some unsuspecting little people! Oh, I'm so sad that I don't have any little people at home any more to make this for..I'll just have to make it for big ones instead! Gorgeous..Rainbow Cake - sunny & bright just like you....x

  27. Aloha, WOW so happy to of dropped in for a nice colorful visit! I love that about your blog, lots of Joy and cheer, Mahalo!
    Love the cake, I will have to make this for my Daughters 12th Bday, she will love it too!
    so happy I visited, looking forward to my next

  28. What a great cake! I have plans to make a rainbow cake for St. Patrick's Day this year with my kiddos~I'm so excited about it:)

  29. I love this cake and your pictures are great fun too!!!

  30. An amazing cake!!! Now ours is a cake making household, but never have we managed to produce anything this spectacular! I think this weekend will see you copied all over the planet!

  31. One of these days I'm going to have to make one of these. They're just too pretty. :)

    I listed you among my "nominees" for the Kreativ Blogger award today. Cheers! :)

  32. This is one of my all-time favorite cakes. It makes me happy just looking at the pictures! I think I need to find something to celebrate this weekend....


  33. Saw this on Sophie's blog and I've come to see your gorgeous creation! Can't wait to try it for my daughter's birthday! What fun!

  34. Meredy, in defernce to your technological emergency and also in light of the fact that your rainbow cake is the 8th wonder of the world, I have taken the liberty of linking it up to my linky Party Party. This is a cake which must be shared. I am pinning my hopes for Miss Fab's Fancy Sleepover Party on your rainbow cake recipe. It must be done. I hope you don't mind, but I've linked you.

  35. love it! Looks fantastic! And great tutorial!

    hugs! Kim @
    party inspiration

  36. it is veery popular receipt =) i saw it in a few blogs =)...and i think its sooo tasty! =)

  37. *pecipe

    sorry)) my English is far cry from perfection)))

  38. I'm going to try and attempt this for my daughters birthday next weekend (argh). So thankful for your easy to follow (and humorous) instructions! Just one question - do I triple your cream cheese icing recipe too?

  39. Ah Meredy, you are a G.E.N.I.U.S!

    I did a silly thing and showed my 14yo a picture of this cake and she requested it for this years' birthday in May...yelp!

    Thank you for sharing the recipe and tips, fingers crossed.

    Felicity x

  40. THANK YOU! Love this and want to try it :-) Please stop by if you can -

  41. Thanks for sharing, Paisley Jade inspired my visit to your blog, she made a great one. Where do you buy gel food colours?

  42. This is amazing! I followed a link from PaisleyJade's blog to see exactly how such a thing is accomplished. Totally loved your description of how to make it and when it is necessary to be all "Martha-ish" about it. I may actually have to try this one day when my son is old enough to appreciate such a thing. Love it!

  43. Oh My Goodness, my 16 year old daughter made this cake for her Dad's birthday, fantastic!!, Just wanted to know what temperture you cooked the cakes on as we had a bit of a problem getting the middles cooked

  44. WOW!! I can't wait to make this - and I HATE baking!! Wonders never cease...

  45. I made this on the weekend for my son's forth birthday. Thanks so much it was a hit!!

  46. A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of your wonderful cake. I have just cooked it for my son's 1st birthday/christening which we are having tomorrow! It really is a fabulous looking cake. Thank you so much for the inspiration!!!


  47. I just found your blog after reading about this spectacular cake on Anna Spiro's blog - I love it, and can't wait for my son's 2nd birthday to make it. What temp do you cook the cakes at - sorry if you included this, I couldn't see it anywhere! Many thanks, Michelle

  48. This is gorgeous! I found you via Absolutely Beautiful Things. I must make this and surprise my kiddos...I never knew about the "crumb layer"

  49. I LOVE it! How fun!

    Janie @ Romantic Domestic

  50. Recipe sounds delish....what temperature do we set our ovens at? Thank you.

  51. You are a wonderful writer. And I will demand this cake for my birthday--although I might have to make it myself...

  52. What a fabulous post- found you through Anna Spiro's Absolutely Beautiful Things blog.I love the story where you said " you hoped the sprinkles were enough colour" hahaha- fabulous!!I must make this cake, I have become yourlatest follower and have book marked this page.Thanks for the lovely recipe.I love baking , there are loads of recipes on my blog if you want to have a look.
    Have a great weekend!

  53. Oh my goodness! i picked the wrong week to go on a diet. i am going to try this cake this weekend when other people will be around to help me eat it.


  54. BrillianT, a stunning, beautiful cake, my daughters 12th birthday is this week and well wont it be a gorgeous suprise when we cut the cake, Thank you so much for sharing this wonderlust of a cake!

  55. Could you please tell me what size cake tin you used? I would like to make this for my daughter's 3rd birthday party next weekend and need to do a trial run! It looks amazing, thanks so much for sharing :-)

  56. I think this cake recipe might just be my new favourite recipe! I made it last night to see what it was like before I make the rainbow cake for my daughters birthday in a few weeks. It was brilliant, kind of sponge like, i even made it using gluten free flour! Most gluten free cakes I make are usually stale like the next day but 24 hours later and this cake was still very fresh. :)

  57. My niece has asked me to make this cake for her Birthday and I was wondering how much of the food coloring you use for each layer? Thanks for a wonderful blog.

  58. Hi Meredith...just wanted to let you knwo that I made the rainbow cake for my Niece's birthday... never have I seen such a happy child....she was so delighted. I have included a link to my blog if you are interested in having a look at it...thanks again for the recipe...

  59. love it :) you have done an amazing job - ya you le xox

  60. I know I am a year late in leaving a comment but I have seen your cake recipe on so many blogs, Jane from Planet Baby has just done one for Indias birthday & left a link to you so just wanted to say it looks so yummy & next year my daughter is getting one for her 14th birthday I think any one would love that cake :))

  61. Thank you for showing Kylie your cake and receipe I love it for a child's cake.

  62. Thank you for your lovely recipe, I made the cake for my daughters third birthday today. It was my first attempt at a birthday cake and it went down a treat.

  63. Thank you soo much for this amazing recipe..I love it and so do all the people that have tasted your amazing cake. I've made it a few times now and I still cant get enough...Yum YUM!!!

  64. Hay IM making this tomorrow...All i need to know is what size cake pan did u use????

  65. I am making this recipe for a work 'goodbye' cake. Our work colour is blue, so I'm doing different shades. Thanks so much for the recipe! I am also loving your blog genreally.. So hard to find aussie bloggers! Will let you know how I go :) x

  66. Thanks for sharing this. I am planning on making two for my twin girls 3rd birthday. I am going to attempt to join them with a fondant rainbow and decorate with smarties around the sides and My Little Pony toys on top. Does the icing end up white or a yellowy colour from the butter?

  67. Thanks so much for posting this - i used it exactly for my 1 years old's first birthday (even ordered those dyes etc) and the cake turned out PERFECTLY!!! THANK YOU!!!!

    Ps: if you're lazy or live in Australia where the dyes cost a bomb, you can get away with just yellow, red and blue and mixing the rest yourself

    Thanks again!!!



  68. oh I like that it looks so tasty this so lovely cake i ever seen.
    i love eating that's why im too fat now :)
    but most of the time what i eat are chocolates
    in fact i buy macaroons online
    because that's my favorite which is chocolate macaroons.
    well anyway that cake above is interesting i wanna try that.


Thank you for leaving a comment - I look forward to visiting you soon! Meredith xo.


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