Surely you've seen the rainbow cake. It's pretty darn popular. As my fellow Chow Bella-ite Amy Silvemran puts it, the rainbow cake is nothing less than "the holy grail of Pinterest."
Pin Up Girl would be a farce if we didn't conquer this thing. So this week we spent three hours (which is a very abbreviated amount of time for this recipe) playing with dyes and mixers creating this masterpiece.
I'm here to share with you how this was accomplished and how you too can create this in your own kitchen - NO SWEAT.
Or maybe just a little bit of sweat...
In the beginning we toyed with using a boxed cake mix for sake of simplicity, but the only boxed cake I've used, and liked, is that from Trader Joe's and they were out. So we decided to make it from scratch using the same recipe used for the Valentine's Day Heart Cake.
This recipe turned out to be the perfect amount. Plus, you can control the quality of ingredients that goes into it. But let's face it, with a total of 7 sticks of butter, 17 cups of sugar and literally all the colors of the fake rainbow, don't get hung up on using the best ingredients. When making this cake you embrace Crisco, enriched and bleached flour and refined sugar. This cake is more of an art project - or a science experiment. How many globs of dye does it take to achieve the desired color?
Whip up the cake batter and get your dyes out. To ensure that each layer is even, measure equal amounts of batter into six separate bowls. Use an ice cream scoop with a spring to make this task easier. Now the fun part - start dying the batter. We found that some colors needed little globs while some needed more. Don't be afraid to keep adding. And try not to think about what Laurie Notaro says.
If you can get a hold of some extra cake pans you can cut down on your baking time. We had four and it helped a lot, but be aware that even though the pans are equal in measure they still vary a bit. Our red and purple layers were just a little bit wider than the rest and this drove my perfectionist tendencies CRAZY. You've been warned.
We didn't have parchment paper, so we just greased them with Crisco and dusted them with flour. It worked just fine. No need to waste paper! Bake two cakes at one time as you would any other layer cake, but keep an eye on the time as these are much thinner. Ours were ready in 11 minutes.
Allow them to cool completely or your cake will be a disaster. If you're feeling insecure about putting it together, freeze the layers - separately, on a piece of parchment paper.
We used Cakespy's instructions to assemble the cake. Her cake is flawless! She instructs us to put the purple layer on a serving piece and top with a "dollop" of frosting. She goes on to say not to spread it to the outermost edge because the top layers will eventually spread it from the weight. I had a hard time with this. My cake making experience did not like it one bit. Also, how much is a "dollop"?!?
We ended up leaving about two and half inches of space from the border and while the frosting did spread, it didn't make it all the way to the edges. We were able to clean this up a bit in the end when frosting the outside, but there were still some gaps.
Despite the flaws, it's still pretty.
Looking back, I realize that the flaws in our cake could have been avoided had we made enough frosting. In fact, we used only half the amount of sugar in Cakespy's recipe. We thought for sure that 7 cups would be enough. The mixer bowl was absolutely FULL.
Make the full frosting recipe so you don't have any unsightly gaps in your cake. You may have to make it in two separate batches.
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Use Cakespy's tutorial as a guide for assembling the cake. She says to use skewers to stabilize the cake, but we didn't need them. I suggest having them ready just in case. We also didn't level the cakes with a knife as usually practiced with layer cakes. Our layers were even enough to begin with, so we just went for it. It's your call.
Here's the perfect cake recipe if you choose to make it from scratch. Adapted from 1-2-3-4 Cake by Alice Waters from The Art of Simple Food
Preheat oven to 350F.
Butter the cake pans and line the bottom of each with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess. Separate: 6 eggs Measure: 1 1/2 cups milk Sift and then measure: 4 1/2 cups cake flour Stir in: 6 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt (1/2 if using salted butter) In another bowl, beat until light and fluffy: 3 sticks softened butter Add: 3 cups sugar Cream until light and fluffy. Beat in the 6 egg yolks, one at a time, and: 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla. When well mixed add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with one third of the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Stir one third of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.