One of my biggest triumphs with my kids in the kitchen must’ve been this hysteria-causing rainbow layered cake. We baked it for their daddy as a show of our love and it was beyond a great hit for everyone present to share it. While I’m aware that great desserts can’t solve all of life’s problems, there are those such as this delightful rainbow cake that can’t help but spread happiness. Aren’t there always times in life when we need small joys shared with loved ones to soldier on through another day with the revival of dreams made alive in our hearts again. This is the sort of cake that does that for me! I call it my ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ cake..aka ‘my happy cake’. It’s another one I can finally tick off under my Bucket List of Delectable Desserts To Make.
What’s more—once cut open, it’s the sort of “wow” cake bound for a SHORT lifespan with the number of large and little hands vying to beat the other for the next freshly cut wedge. Perfect for a child or teen’s birthday at any age. Make that adult of any age! We forget to let go and be happy when we forget what it’s like to be a child again. Enjoy your rainbow for what it is…God’s promise that one day it shall definitely stop raining and sunshine will surely come.
From me to you.. “Let your heart eat cake”.
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Somewhere, over the rainbow, way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true
Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me
Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can’t I?
If happy little bluebirds fly
Beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why, can’t I?
Kat’s Notes: If you want the easier version of this cake, I’d recommend the Betty Crocker vanilla cake mix. You’ll need 2 boxes. Alternatively, the supermarket ‘no frills’ vanilla cake mix will work too but you’ll need 3 packets of those, 1 pack=2 layers. However note that for the best tasting rainbow cake, there aren’t shortcuts! I prefer making it from scratch. It tastes better and there’re no unknown preservatives or nasties embedded in the cake mix.
For beginner bakers, by all means you could try it out using the ready-made cake mixes to reduce the anxiety of making this recipe : )
Ingredients for Rainbow Layer Cake:
350g soft butter, softened
350g caster sugar
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
50-70 ml milk ( I used Paul’s Smarter White)
350g self raising flour
Gel colours – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple
3 to 6 baking tins of equal size (I used 3 x 8″ baking tins)
For the cream cheese frosting:
100g butter, softened
1.5 packet Philadelphia cream cheese (375g, softened)
650g icing sugar, sifted
freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 TB)
or Cointreau liquor
Directions for rainbow cake:
In a stand mixer, cream the room temperature butter and the castor sugar until combined, add the eggs one at a time, each time adding a little of the flour before finishing with the last bit of flour and vanilla extract. Add up to 50-70 ml of milk (a tablespoon at a time) to the desired consistency of cake batter (if it is too dry, your cake will not be moist enough).
Now the fun bit! Gather 6 bowls of equal size and begin by dividing the rainbow cake cake batter into 6 bowls to be ready for colour tinting! Using a toothpick, add your gel colours by stirring each colour little by little into each bowl of batter. Ensure your colour is as bright and vibrant as you’d like for maximum effect! While there’s no need to panic if you’ve added too much colour gel paste, aim for less than a quarter of a teaspoon each time for greater control of the exact shade you desire.
You’ll need to grease and line your 3 baking tins (or six if you have them!) well then pour each coloured batter into the tins. Bake them at 170℃ for 15-20 minutes.
A good idea to be vigilant in watching that they do not brown too much. I’ve baked mine with two tins on the middle shelf and one on the bottom shelf, taking care to ensure the bottom tin is not directly positioned below the two tin. Check with a toothpick or skewer that they are done in about 15 to 20 minutes.
You’ll need to cool down the cakes in the 3 baking pans before you can continue the second batch of baking the remaining three colours. Let the first batch of 3 cakes cool down before loosening and removing them each carefully. Then, you’ll next need to level the tops of each coloured layer. Keep the excess cake crumbs for making cake pops—they’re a wonderful accompaniment to the rainbow cake!
The best tip I learnt had been to cling wrap each coloured layer, followed by refrigerating the cake layers overnight for best effect. It makes it a breeze to decorate once you incorporate this extra step of love into your rainbow cake! Stack them according to the colours you intend to position from the first to the sixth. A good guide to a pleasing combination would be to follow God’s design of nature when He made the rainbow: (A seventh layer could be added if you wish! Go for pink!)
Remember to clean out your 3 pans well after the first batch of baking and repeat the steps of greasing, lining followed by the second batch of baking the final 3 cakes to make up a total of 6 layers.
Directions for the frosting:
Bring the butter to room temperature. Add it to your stand mixer and add in the cream cheese. Whisk on low first to loosen and then increase the speed to medium. Keep whisking till the butter and cream cheese are pale and creamy.
Add sieved the icing sugar into the buttered cream cheese mixture gradually about half a cup (120g) at a time and continue whisking till it’s fully incorporated. You may add 1 TB of freshly squeezed lemon juice at this stage to balance the sweetness. However it is optional. I added some Cointreau into mine for an orange flavour, including a teaspoon of grated orange zest.
To assemble the layers of you rainbow cake:
Depending on how you wish to frost your rainbow cake—you can either use a frosting spatula or piping bag (neater method).
Start by smearing a little of the cream cheese frosting on the plate, cake board or cake stand you’ll be using to adhere the first layer of cake. Dab a little frosting onto the centre of the material, and then frost and put on the next layer. Watch that you’re not putting on too much frosting, a fine balance is required. I start at the edges, then spread the frosting inwards. You may want to chill the cake after about the first three layers for 15 to 30 minutes so that it remains cool and much easier to decorate, especially if the weather is not cool.
Continue layering each colour and sandwiching them one on top of the other with a layer of frosting. Ensure your layers are sitting as level as possible, so that the ‘tower of layers’ are as straight as they can be and not leaning sideways unless you were after a whimsical rainbow cake 🙂
Now for the edges, apply and spread a crumb coat of frosting to the cake, filling any gaps between layers with a coat of frosting. Chill for another hour or more. You can now decide if you wish to do a flat edged ‘buttercream-like’ frosting(takes considerable skill to be neat!) or in my case—I’ve piped roses all around my rainbow cake for a pretty floral pattern.
For the final touch, you could either use a decorative inedible paper bunting with skewers, or any other decorations you may prefer like royal icing, fondant or gum paste decorations of your choice. Get happy!