How to make a rainbow cake

How to make a rainbow cake

It’s the perfect solution for the couple who can’t decide on merely two wedding colors. If you want to give your guests a surprise, cut into your white wedding cake to reveal an explosion of color. Nothing sets off an all-white dessert table like a cake with a rainbow inside.

There are two ways to achieve a rainbow effect. The first (a blended rainbow) is relatively simple and, if you’re designing a less formal cake than your wedding cake, completely doable in your own kitchen. If it’s different-colored tiers you’re after, you can still take a DIY approach, but you may prefer to spend your time choosing the perfect bakery.

Making The Basic Batter

Both approaches begin the same way: make plain white cake batter. You don’t want to get too fancy here. Additions like peanut butter, chocolate chips, or fruit swirls will doubtless taste great, but will muddy the ultimate effect. If your guests can’t tell that your cake is supposed to be a rainbow, they might think it’s something you scraped off the bottom of a clown’s shoe.

You can do perfectly well with a boxed cake mix, but if you prefer to make cake batter yourself you will have more control over choosing ingredients. Whichever approach you use, pick only the purest white flour and sugar.

The whiter your cake batter, the better it will pick up the color and the more vibrant your rainbow will be. If you want to experiment with whole-wheat flour or other, more nutritious options, do a few test runs to make sure the resulting rainbow is to your liking.

When you’ve mixed your batter and it’s at the stage where you would normally pour it into a baking pan, you will instead divide the batter into six equal parts in six separate bowls. There are six colors in a basic rainbow, after all (sorry, indigo!).

Just to be safe, mix double the amount of batter you think you’ll need. You don’t want to find out you need more later, once you’ve already mixed impossible-to-duplicate custom colors.

Once you’ve separated the batter into six bowls, dye each one a different color. You can use any food coloring you like. If you’re using the traditional liquid, four-color kit, you can use red, blue, yellow, and green right out of the bottles.

Mix drops of yellow and red for orange, and mix red and blue for violet. You may prefer food coloring gel, which comes in a wider variety of colors. Don’t forget that neon food coloring is also available if you want a shockingly bright cake for that “first slice” photo.

Blended Rainbow Filling

It’s hard to go wrong with a simple, blended-rainbow approach. Just keep your rainbow color order straight: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. (Whether you start with red or reverse your rainbow is up to you.)

Preheat your oven and grease your baking pan as you would with any cake. Now it’s time for the fun part. Pour the complete contents of your red batter bowl into the baking pan. Next, pour your orange batter directly into the center of the same pan.

You’ll see an orange puddle form in the middle, but since the colors are the same density and thickness, they won’t mix. Pour yellow into the center of that puddle, and green into the center of that. Next, pour blue and finally violet into the very center of it all.

Be precise in your pouring and you won’t see any stray drips outside of the color boundaries. Looking at your baking pan from the top, you should see rings of color like the cross-section of a magical tree trunk.

Bake your cake according to the regular cake recipe. When you slice the finished product, you should see broad swirls of color in every slice. If that doesn’t make your guests wish they’d kept that pair of tie-dye bell-bottoms after all, nothing will.

Tiered Rainbow Layers

Beware: this approach is not for beginners. However, the effect it creates is precise and striking. If you’re looking for a perfectly-tiered wedding cake, this is the recipe for you. Practice it a few times to make sure you’ve perfected your technique before the wedding day; otherwise, you may want to leave it in a professional baker’s hands.

Follow the “basic batter” recipe above and you’ll end up with six bowls of colored batter. In the tiered approach, each color gets its own greased cake pan. Bake each for about 15 minutes (or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out dry and clean). If you have a large oven or you’re using small cake pans, you can bake them all simultaneously.

After the colored layers are baked, flip them onto a clean countertop or wire pastry rack and let them cool. You’ll be stacking these on top of each other, so it’s essential that they remain absolutely level. If you want to be precise (and you do, for a wedding cake), you can buy a tool called a “cake leveler” that will roll across your countertop on wheels and drag a sharp, thin wire across the surface of your cake as it goes.

If you really trust your hand-eye coordination, you can use a sharp knife. The important part is to lop off the puffy bit that rose during baking so that each tier is ready to be stacked on the previous one without leaning even the slightest bit. This is essential to the stability of your cake.

From here, the process is pretty straightforward. Lay the red layer down first and cover it with a thin, uniform layer of white icing. Lay the orange layer directly on top of the red layer and cover with its own layer of icing.

For clean stacking, it can help to leave each layer on a solid surface as you lift it and gently “tilt and scoot” it into place with a wide spatula. Repeat for yellow, green, blue, and finally violet. When you have all of the layers solidly stacked upon each other, you can cover the entire creation with white icing and decorate your cake as you please.

Remember that simplicity goes a long way–the more plain white your cake has on the outside, the more its brilliant interior will shine.

Use Your Imagination

While “rainbow” wedding cake is a popular idea because of its bold visual appeal, your cake can be any colors you wish. Just follow the same format and mix different colors in your batter bowls. You may want to try alternating your wedding colors, or you can opt for a cake of all pastels. Maybe you want a black-and-white zebra pattern. It’s all up to you.

No matter what delicious dessert pattern you choose, your guests will be sure to head home praising your impeccable “good taste.”