#69 – Bake a rainbow layer cake

by Elizabeth on August 16, 2013 · 9 comments

in 101 in 1001, Cool stuff, DIY, Food, Life



#69 in my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Bake a rainbow layer cake!


I’ve been wanting to make a rainbow layer cake for the longest time, ever since I first laid eyes on Meg Duerksen’s beauty way back in 2009.  I can’t imagine that anybody could look at these happy colours and epic proportions without breaking into a smile, so it’s the perfect cake for a celebration.

Ever since Pinterest showed up on the scene I’ve had almost weekly reminders of how damn pretty this cake is.  The desire to make my own kept getting stronger, and when I realised that three of my favourite people had birthdays coming up in the same week I knew it was time.

Finally, an occasion worthy of this beautiful giant!




This was my favourite stage of the cake making process, when all of those vibrant layers were stacked up high and nothing had fallen over!  At this point I realised how important it was to get those colours right before throwing it all in the oven.  I was a bit sad about the prospect of covering everything in white frosting, but after a handful of photos I got on with the job.  After all, nothing beats the ‘wow’ factor of a plain white cake with surprise multicoloured guts!

The next day our friends came over to help us break in the new BBQ I bought Tim for his birthday.  When it was finally time for dessert I lit three candles for each of the birthday babies.




I imagine it’s pretty tough being my friend.  I mean sure, maybe I’ll invite you over for lunch and maybe it will be really delicious, but if it had anything to do with my 101/1001 list you’d better not touch a thing on your plate until it’s been photographed!  Luckily due to the height of this cake the pieces were all pretty skinny, so I was able to feed my friends before whisking away the rest of the cake to take the photo above.

My friends make fun of me a lot.


Tips!  I have some.

If you have a failsafe plain and dense cake recipe then stick with what you know.  If (like me) you don’t have a go-to recipe that you trust, don’t be ashamed of using a packet mix that’s been tested in a million different kitchens.  My little cousin was mortified when I came clean about this, but I’m super happy with the result and I think somebody owes Mrs Crocker an apology!

My cake was made with plain 20cm cake tins, $7 each from Woolworths, and I baked two at a time.  I didn’t use springform pans for this, but I did spend time lining the tins really well.  The cakes cooked really evenly despite my dodgy oven and tipped out of the pans easily when they were done.

You’re going to find a lot of advice about which food colouring to use in your google travels.  Most people swear by gel colours to get these vibrant colours, but the truth is I just used a couple of boxes of the $2 Queen 4-packs from the supermarket.  I had to use a lot of colouring to get that red layer to stop looking pink, and lots more red for the orange and purple layers too, so make sure you have plenty.  Normally I steer clear of food colouring but with this cake it’s important to go big or go home.

Spend time trimming your cakes to make sure that they’re perfectly flat on top.  It’s obvious from my photos that I didn’t bother trimming the orange layer – oops!

Your frosting is going to need a lot of sugar in it to keep your structure standing.  Don’t even attempt this with runny icing or you’ll find that your construction won’t be up to code.  (This is probably not a good time to reflect on your weight loss journey.)

Just know that in order to get the right visual effect you will need to use more frosting than you ever dreamed.  And when it comes time to eat your slice you shouldn’t feel bad about leaving two thirds of it on your plate because diabetes.

If you find yourself getting emotional during the cake baking process, call my little cousin Trisha.  She gives great moral support over the phone!



And finally… try not to get too depressed when you realise that some other kickass lady has made an eighty layer rainbow cake that leaves yours in the dust.  Nobody likes a show-off, lady!


Happiest of birthdays to my love Tim, and to our gorgeous friends Glen & Janelle.  Sorry about the hypoglycemia.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

jeslynn02 August 22, 2013 at 8:44 am

This is GORGEOUS and awesome! You did a fantastic job!! I think I want to make something similar for my daughter’s first birthday. Glad you added the extra tips in there!


Elizabeth August 25, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Thank you! I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

A first birthday sounds like the perfect event for a big, fat cake like this one and the photos would be very memorable! But maaaaaybe don’t give your daughter any of the red layer, because I feel a bit gross about the amount of food colouring I had to use to get it that colour!


Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife August 27, 2013 at 5:37 am

This is great and I totally think using boxed mixed was genius, I mean getting the cake to look like that is an amazing feat!


Renae September 2, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Absolutely stunning!! Well done!


eunice84 September 17, 2013 at 10:10 pm

love your blog!!! super cute and amazing cake…just in time for my nieces ” over the rainbow” party…it will be a hit….thanks for the tips and as for the frosting…the super sugar high will be a favorite for the kiddos..as for the parents who have to deal with the little jumping beans they will want to kill me later, but at least I know that the rainbow cake will be unforgettable….love it…Glad I finally found the way to to it!!!


Janelle October 30, 2013 at 6:17 am

Does using all of that food coloring make the cake taste different?


Elizabeth November 3, 2013 at 11:22 am

I was really worried about the food colouring altering the taste, but I didn’t notice a difference. The red layer had 5x more colouring than the other layers and tasted exactly the same!


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