Rainbow Cake with Butter Cream Icing (A Birthday Success!)

I should have worked all day, today. Studied for class and stuff but here I am. Such is my love for baking. You’re welcome! This recipe has been floating in my head for quite a while now; begging me to get to it. I saw an opportunity and I thought. . . why not?

Do you know what this cake reminds me of? Australia and Delta Goodrem: here’s why! You should sing this song while baking the cake and I promise you, it will be magical!

(I missed you, jelly lump!)

Rainbow cakes are really popular and surprisingly, all the blogs and websites have the same recipe. I did some research and it is Martha Stewart’s recipe. (Of course! I told you she is extraterrestrial or something.) This cake is soft, moist and to die for.

Here’s what you’ll need.

I used six colors for the batter. Red (or rather pink), Yellow, Orange, Blue, Purple and Green. Imagine me singing a rainbow like Miss Goodrem. The reason I didn’t bake it with separate colored layers is because I am not a big icing fan and seven layers of icing is just too much!

Imagine the black is blue. 😛

Makes a large 9 inch cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/3 cups sugar
5 large egg whites, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
Red, yellow, blue food coloring (these basic colors will make the rest of the three. you could get green, purple and orange food coloring as well. your choice!)

First, decide whether you want a single layer like I made or too layers of the same pattern? For a single layer, line a 9 inch baking pan (any shape). For two layers, line two six inch pans. For 6 separate layers, line six 6-inch or 9 inch pans. So far, so good?

Pre-heat your oven to 180 C or 375 F. I used half of this recipe. Works just the same.

In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy. Notice how little it is right now?

Now add the egg whites, little at a time, whilst mixing. The batter will start to get fluffier as you incorporate the whites. Then add the vanilla essence and blend lightly. Next, alternating the dry with the wet, mix in the flour mixture and the milk. Your batter should look something like this:

Now divide the mixture into six parts and start mixing your food colors, a drop at a time, till you have the desired color concentration (usually about 1/4 tsp). Mix red and yellow for orange, blue and yellow for green and blue and red for purple. Easy, right? If you feel like the batter is getting too runny, add half a tsp of flour to bring it back to the right texture.

I can cook a rainbow, a rainbow. .  a rainbow too! haha! Now, pour the mixtures into the lined trays. Equally dividing, depending on the number of layers you have. I just put every layer on top of each other, like this:

Shake to flatten. Put in the oven to bake for about 30 mins for a single layer, 15 mins each for multiple layers. Don’t depend on the time completely. The general rule is that if the top bounces back when pressed or if a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, it is done. Now a before and after picture:



You can stop here and eat it just like this, I have more photos on Facebook. Keep reading if you want to decorate it with icing.

First, let the cake cool, completely. Flip carefully and put it in your serving plate. This butter cream icing recipe is by a very very wise woman; Miss Nigella Lawson. If someone would please assemble a dictionary of all the adjectives this woman associates with food, I’d be extremely grateful. I heart Miss Lawson, so much and I heart this icing, just as much.

For the Butter Cream Icing:

125g icing sugar
4 teaspoons custard powder
75g soft unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water

In a food processor (or you could just use the normal electric whisk), process sugar and custard powder to get rid of lumps. Add the butter and process again and while it is processing add the boiling water through the funnel to make it a little less stiff.

I made double this recipe because I needed extra to write Happy Birthday on top. Otherwise, the above amount is enough. Making sure that the cake has cooled down completely, pour over the icing and smooth with a spatula.

Then I piped out the text on top, in black.

I am an amateur and this was my first cake with text. You can tell how my hand just wouldn’t stop shaking. Farah and I had a good laugh. Adding some candles. . .

Purrrfection! Even though I baked it for my brother, it is also for my lovely little cousin Wali, who turns 3 today. Happy Birthday, Wali! He would have loved this cake!

Wali, last year, at his 2nd birthday.

That’s it! I hope I inspired you enough to try this recipe. Let me know in the comments below. Thank you for reading!


16 thoughts on “Rainbow Cake with Butter Cream Icing (A Birthday Success!)

  1. I need to find food dye . . . i think cloth dye will poison people who eat it, but defo going to either make the cake or cupcakes, most probably cake . But i thought it would be harder ! I love how simple it is. And yes butter icing by Nigella would be yumminess!
    Thankoo for the post =D

    • Lol! Yes, do not use cloth dye under any circumstances. I had to beg a bakery wala for some blue dye because I couldn’t find it anywhere else. We should thank him! 😀

  2. Pweeetttyyy! 🙂
    Are those by any chance gel food colorings? I searched all over lahore but couldn’t even find normal liquid food coloring and ended up with those disasterous powdered food colorings, which turned the cake salty! 😀 Also i think my cake was a bit too runny :S
    Haha it looks awesome, I should definitely give it a third try! 😀

    • Nope. Normal liquid food colors. I made my brother get these from the U.S. Yahan per nahi milte. Kal mein blue ki talaash mein buhat ghumi! Mine was runny too, so I added more flour to get it back to the right consistency.

    • I have no experience with powdered colors. A friend was just telling me that she used powdered colors and they made the cake salty. So you would want to make sure they are not salted before you buy them. 🙂 Otherwise powder is good for it doesn’t make the batter runny.

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