Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gemma's rainbow birthday cake

Okay, so I am beyond flattered that people liked my little girl's birthday cake so much! My mom always made the best cakes for us as kids and I am determined not to let my own kiddos down.  While I'm nowhere close to her expertise, I'm having fun trying out new ideas (some successes, some flops) and picking up some new tricks. And I wish I could say this cake was an original idea of mine. Nope, totally stole the idea (with some changes of my own) from an image off the web.  Sooooo, here goes - instructions on how to make a rainbow cake!

To make this 6 layer cake, you'll need the following:
* 2 boxes standard yellow cake mix (and required eggs, oil, etc.)
* Some kind of filling for between the layers (I used store-bought lemon which I mixed with fresh squeezed lemon juice and some cream to make it a bit smoother)
* Double batch of buttercream frosting (I included a fantastic recipe below)...you'll have leftovers you can freeze for later
* Single batch of marshmallow fondant (recipe for this included as well)
* Gel food colorings (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple)
* 3 cake dowels (I prefer the wooden kind)
* 1 large cake cardboard circle

Mix the 2 boxes of cake mix and then separate evenly into 6 bowls.  Add about 3 small drops of gel food coloring to each bowl and mix until color is even.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Yes, only 15 minutes. When cakes have cooled, use a bread knife to slice off a little from the top to make the layers level, except for the red layer. That will be the top and it's nice to have a little rounding there. Cover and place in the freezer.  By the way, you can do this days ahead. I knew my time would be limited with 2 kiddos running crazy around the house so I made my cakes 2 days in advance.
Make your marshmallow fondant. Let's be honest now. Nobody likes fondant. It tastes like crap. BUT, my favorite cooking resource (www.allrecipes.com) has a great recipe for marshmallow fondant which wasn't half bad! http://allrecipes.com/recipe/marshmallow-fondant/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=marshmallow%20fondant&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page
This was my first time EVER making fondant, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit it was by far the most challenging part of this cake.  Making it at 10:00 night when I'm already tired probably wasn't one of my finer moves, and I definitely had that "oh crap" moment when I was convinced this blob of white goo was NEVER going to turn into what you see on professional cakes. I had to use quite a bit more butter and used more confectioners sugar to knead once I transferred the fondant out of the bowl and onto the counter. But overall, the instructions proved true and my fondant attempt was successful! Yay me:)
Separate fondant into 6 even parts, knead food gel color into each part (I used 3 drops per color), wrap and place in refrigerator to cool overnight. Yes...overnight.
Place your large cardboard cake circle on top of your turntable. It's not the end of the world if you don't have one, but it certainly makes life easier.  FatDaddio makes a great one for beginners (like me) for under $15. Put a decent sized dollop of buttercream frosting on both sides of the cardboard, before placing first layer of cake, to make sure it sticks nice and tight. Between each layer, spread your filling. I'm a lover of anything lemon, so that's what I used. Just your regular store bought lemon filling. I found mine next to the jellies and peanut butter at Safeway.
Once your layers are assembled, place your cake dowels (I used 3) in the cake to prevent it from toppling over when you begin your crumb coat of frosting.
I'm a total beginner at frosting but I do know this much, crumb coats are WAY easier when your cake is almost frozen.  So that's what I did:)  Oh, and here's the recipe I used for buttercream frosting: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/special-buttercream-frosting/detail.aspx?event8=1&prop24=SR_Title&e11=buttercream%20frosting&e8=Quick%20Search&event10=1&e7=Home%20Page The only thing I did different was replace the shortening with butter.
After your crumb coat is done, place the cake back in the refrigerator to cool again before doing final layer of frosting. I had luck getting the frosting to look nice and smooth by using a scalding hot frosting spatula that I dipped in water to clean off between spreading.
Spread some cornstarch on your countertop, roll out your fondant, and cut into even strips. I used our pizza cutter for this. It's okay if you get cornstarch on the top as well...you'll use a little bit of water from a small brush to get it off and it had the surprising effect of making the fondant shiny!
Start placing the strips on the cake!
I used the leftover fondant to make little balls (okay, my Mom made these little balls!) for decoration around the base.
Make whatever kind of decoration you want on the top. Lightly brush the cornstarch off the fondant with water and you're done!
All in all, I was really happy with how the cake turned out. Next attempt, some kind of Star Wars birthday cake for Timmy's 4th birthday. Enjoy!

I'll post some actual pictures from Gemma's little party soon too:)


  1. wow, Looks so good! I want one now.

  2. amazing! im going to make one for my 21st birthday :)


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