10 October 2011

Rainbow Cake

This was a birthday cake for M*, who is 22 today, made primarily by E and I, but with mixing help and input from D and N. E, M and I were discussing the idea of a rainbow cake and liked the sound of it, and when we started discussing what on earth M wanted for his birthday we came to the conclusion that this would be an awesome birthday cake. When he wasn't listening, E and I decided that making it a gay cake would be appropriate (despite M's heterosexuality), so we made the icing pink. Here it is:

Isn't it awesome?!

I admit that decoration isn't my forte - I lack the patience and precision that makes a truly awe inspiring cake (and it doesn't help that three years of chemistry forces the creativity out of you) - so it will come as no surprise that the dodgy-looking 2 on the left was done by me and that the precise and perfect 2 on the right was done by E. E got very excited when doing the stars around the edge of the cake (while I was still trying to make my 2 look like a 2), but it turned out pretty well in my opinion. The pink glitter was a necessity for the gay birthday cake. We considered writing something around the sides of the cake, but the stars were enough, we thought.

If you want to buy the decorations we used, you can get them from the cake section in Morrisons.

I had almost run out of icing sugar and had forgotten to buy more, so looked for a recipe for soft icing that didn't need icing sugar and found this one, but found out the hard way that when adding the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar it's probably better to add the creamed mixture to the flour one gradually, rather than the other way around, so that lumps don't form. To fix the lumpy mixture I threw the icing into my blender, along with the icing sugar I had left (about 150g) to thicken it up. The lumps disappeared but the icing was still too runny, so we added flour to thicken it. Basically, it's so much easier just to be prepared and have enough icing sugar for buttercream in the first place, so that's what's in the recipe.

Also, a note on food colouring: I used the liquid version commonly found in most childhood memories and supermarkets, but I hear that the gel type gives a much stronger colour and is generally better, so if you can you should use that.


For the cake:

250g Self Raising Flour
250g Butter
250g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
2-3 Tbsp Milk
Food Colouring (Red, Blue and Yellow)

For the icing:

200g Butter
400g Icing Sugar
Food Colouring (we went for pink because it would add to the gay vibe of the cake, but you can use whatever colour you want. If you want a white cake, don't use any colouring!)

Don't Make My Mistakes!
  • Make sure you have enough icing sugar before you start (see above).
  • Buy a seive if you don't already have one, as that helps get rid of lumps in flour and icing sugar. I keep forgetting so always have to take ages trying to de-lump my icing sugar before I make icing.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C for a fan oven or 200C for a normal one. Line two sandwich tins.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until they are thoroughly mixed together. If you don't know how to cream, it's pretty much mashing the butter into the sugar against the side of the bowl.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, stirring the mixture between each one. Make sure the eggs are thoroughly mixed in.
  • Gradually add the flour, mixing as you go, until it has all been added. The cake mix will be a little stiff at this point, but don't fret - this is normal.
  • To get rid of the stiffness and ensure a moist cake, add a little bit of milk and stir it in, then take a spoonful of the mixture and, holding the spoon over the bowl, tip the spoon over so that the mixture falls off it. Take note of how easily the mixture comes off the spoon. Ideally, the mixture should sort of slop off the spoon but still be far from completely liquid. Until you get this consistency, keep adding small amounts of milk, stirring it in and testing the mixture again. You shouldn't need too much milk.
  • Now you have your basic cake mixture. The next step is to separate the cake mix between six small containers/bowls/mugs. We used mugs because there aren't that many bowls in the house.
  • To each mug add some of the food colouring so that you end up with six different colours: red, orange, yellow, green, to make the non-primary colours, just mix the colours you have together (red + yellow = orange; blue + red = purple; yellow + blue = green). You should get something like this:
  • Next, take a cake tin and pour in your first colour - seeing as this is supposed to look like a proper rainbow, you might like to put the colours in their proper order (as above; it's hard to make two different shades of purple so that's why there are only six colors. It's actually thought amongst scientists that the colour violet doesn't even exist, and was just added in by someone for fun, so don't be too hard on yourself if you can't make violet either.) Add each colour in turn until you have three in each cake tin. Make sure each layer is evenly spread so that all of the colours have their own layer.

  • Put the cakes in the oven for about 25 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean when pushed into the centre of the cake. Remove the cakes from their tins and leave them to cool on a cooling rack.
  • Once the cakes have cooled, take a plate or cake stand and place one of the cakes, top down, onto it. spread some of the icing on top of it and put the second cake on top, making sure that the colours are still in order. Finally, cover the cake in the remaining icing and decorate as you wish.

I am really pleased with this cake, especially because the rainbow effect worked! I do admit that we didn't think the pink icing in the middle through,  but I wasn't expecting perfection.

Let me know what you think, and if you made your own then please  send photos or at least tell me how yours went, how you improved it etc.

See you next week!

*I don't want to disclose the names of people without their permission since this is online and anyone in the world, e.g. one of their arch enemies who has been biding their time and waiting for any clue as to their whereabouts, could be reading it


  1. Another pretty cake. I'm thinking of making a rainbow cake at the end of the month, may have to use your recipe :-) X


Did you try this recipe? Let me know what you think! Comments are always appreciated. Unless they are spam.