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Rainbow styled cakes are a fun current trend in cake decorating. The rainbow can either be colors in the cake layers or batter, or some kind of rainbow in the frosting. I saw a rainbow cake for the first time about two years ago. A college classmate posted a photo on Facebook of a cake she and her son made with plain white frosting and colored layers. It looked so amazing! A few months later, Family Fun magazine featured a cupcake that had a rainbow layered into the batter.
Last spring, my daughter announced that she wanted a rainbow cake for her next birthday, which was not until eight months later. I had some trouble finding out exactly what she wanted her rainbow cake to look like. Her description changed often. Sometimes she seemed to want the layers to be different colors, like the one that my friend made. Other times, she said the frosting should be colorful. The only thing that remained the same was that she wanted her cake to be “rainbowish.”
As her 5th birthday approached, I tried harder to narrow her description of the rainbow cake. I had an idea in mind of how I could make it, but I did not want either of us to be disappointed if what I had in mind was not what she pictured.
Finally, days before her January birthday, my daughter announced that she wanted a chocolate cake with white icing and colored polka dots and sprinkles on them. This was not what I had in mind, but I thought it might be a good idea to have two cakes, just in case. (I am the daughter of a baker. My philosophy seems to be “never too much cake.”) So as a compromise, I agreed to make chocolate cupcakes with rainbow polka dots for the kids to eat, and a rainbow layer cake — with colored layers and frosting — for the adults.
I started doing online searches for photos of rainbow cakes to see if any of them sparked anything thoughts for my daughter. I thought it would be pretty (and easy) if I swirled colors together within the layers and in the frosting for a tie-dyed look. This was apparently not bold enough for my daughter, who finally decided the day before the party that the cake should have colored layers with an actual arched rainbow on the top.
After making the cake batter, I separated it into six bowls. I used gel food coloring in red, blue and yellow, and then mixed them to make green, blue and purple. I only own three cake pans, and I did not want the cake batter to sit too long, so I decided to put two colors in each layer. This did create something of a tie-dye effect within each layer.
Other than dropping indigo, I followed the ROY-G-BIV rainbow sequence closely. The bottom layer was red and orange, the middle was yellow and green, and the top layer was blue and purple.
I frosted the whole cake in light blue frosting to represent the sky. I put yellow between the bottom two layers and blue between the top two layers. When I looked at my layers, it seemed that those colors were underrepresented, and I thought colored frosting in the middle would be pretty. On the top half circle of the cake, I put an arched rainbow using a leaf tip.
On the bottom half of the circle, I let my daughter use gel icing to write her own name. She was so proud at her party to announce that she had written her own name on her cake.
This cake was a long, involved process, but it was a true labor of love and collaborative effort. It was not difficult to do, and it made my daughter so happy. It was certainly a hit at the party, which made me all the happier that I went to the trouble.
It was one of the prettiest cut cakes I have seen, if I do say so myself.