It’s been a long, but fast few weeks. Long in the sense that I feel like a lot has happened in a short amount of time, which of course seemed to have gone by very quickly. My Mom was visiting for over a month, SF Food Blogger Bake Sale, planning of my ai daughter’s birthday party, mini-family reunion, playing tourist in San Fran, fruit picking and picnicking . . . and on top of that feeling the loss of my beloved Bear. I have to admit I was in a “black and white” state after losing Bear and I needed to get out of that funk. And so my ai daughter gave me the perfect inspiration for her birthday cake–rainbow!
At first I was thinking of making some rainbow cupcakes after my ai daughter showed me a clip she found on YouTube on how to make rainbow cupcakes. A few days later, I did a search on “rainbow cake” (forget the “cup”) and came across this gorgeous cake that put a smile on my face. It was from the Whisk Kid’s blog. This was the cake that landed her an appearance on the Martha Stewart Show. I decided to surprise my daughter with making this cake instead.
But first long story short, we had conflict after conflict with the date of my ai daughter’s birthday party and so we postponed her party a week after her actual birthday. This worked out fine since it gave me an opportunity to practice making this rainbow cake. The featured picture of this post is actually the test cake I did on her birthday–an 8″ round cake with all six layers and in correct order ROY G BV (minus the I)! Since I was more focused on making each layer, I decided to use some store-bought cool-whip as the frosting, against my better judgement (more on that later). I also wanted to decorate the cake using fresh fruit representing each color: Red-Strawberries, Orange-Orange, Yellow-Golden Raspberries, Green-Kiwi, and Blue/Indigo/Violet-Blueberries.
As for the main attraction the cake? I did not use the Whisk Kid’s cake recipe, but did follow her directions on how to make the cake. I am not keen on cakes that only use egg whites. I find them very light and the crumb very delicate. But ironically I did use a coconut cake recipe, which is the original flavor of the cake that the Whisk Kid used without the coconut (sorry I know confusing, but read her blog).
The recipe I got from Epicurious was specifically for a Coconut Layer Cake. It had some really great reviews and so I decided to try it. This cake has a very light hint of coconut flavor. I won’t bother to repost the recipe here since I have a direct link above, but the one thing I did skip the second time around (remember the cake above is my test cake) was I did not separate the egg yolks from the whites-this will save you some time. Trust me this did not change the cake’s taste or texture.
A few things TO DO when making this cake:
- You will have to weigh your mixing bowl ahead of time so that you can subtract this weight from your batter weight.
- Once you have the weight of your cake batter (minus the mixing bowl) divide this by 6 or by whatever amount of layers you intend or are forced to make–some foreshadowing here!
- Weight out each layer of batter into 6 (or in my case the second time around 4-you know there is a story coming up on this) separate bowls.
- Use gel food coloring (Wilton, AmeriColor, etc.) to color each layer.
- The layers will be thin so spray each pan with some good non-stick spray, I use PAM baking non-stick spray, and spread out the batter evenly.
- For the 8″ round cake, bake each layer for about 10-12 minutes. If making a larger sheet cake like I did (11×15), bake each layer for about 18-20 minutes.
A few things NOT TO DO when making this cake:
- Do not try to “eyeball” the cake batter. You will need nice even layers so use a scale.
- Do not use liquid food coloring–too fluid and the colors will bake out and will not be as vibrant.
- Do not use any soft whipped cream or soft frosting for this cake. My husband suggested for the test cake to use some store-bought cool whip. I went along with the suggestion against my better judgement and because I wanted to do a fast filling and frosting. And although I have to say it was quite tasty with the cake, it wasn’t stable enough. It could not hold the weight of all those layers and eventually the cake fell apart, actually right before I took the featured picture above. I was too devastated to take a picture of the ruins, but trust me it was awful!
- If making a larger sheet cake, do not plan on having more that 4 layers! The cake will be enormous and too much to serve and expect someone to eat in one sitting! For my second cake, I decided (more like forced!) to go with 4 layers after quickly realizing the cake would be too much to fill and decorate.
So the “real” cake (cake number two) the one for my ai daughter’s birthday party was an 11×15 sheet cake with four layers: Red, Yellow, Green, and Blue.
For the filling, I wanted something close to the filling you get in those Costco cakes. I did a search on-line for a copy-cat recipe and found this on Cake Central. It did not taste like the Costco filling, but it was pretty good and quite stable. I didn’t add the gelatin because it was already stiff after I whipped it up. However, if I do decide to make this filling again, I will use less vanilla pudding. I forgot how artificial vanilla pudding can taste.
For the frosting, I whipped up a batch of Swiss Meringue Butter Cream. I found a new less buttery version at Sweetapolita’s blog. I am intrigued by her beautiful cakes and became an instant fan. She has some good insight on using 100% egg whites from a carton, instead of separating the egg whites from the yolks with real eggs. I always try to use the egg yolks, mostly by making homemade ice cream, but felt guilty whenever I didn’t use them and had to throw them out. I could not taste any difference between the carton and fresh, and in fact probably feel a lot more comfortable that the carton egg whites are pasteurized. So I say use the carton egg whites! Much more convenient and less of a mess. My one tip on making Swiss Meringue Butter Cream? Heat the egg whites and sugar until they reach 160 degrees. This ensures safe consumption of the buttercream, but I also think it helps stabilize it. Wait, my other tip? Don’t get discouraged if it looks like a lumpy soupy mess. Use the wire whip attachment of your mixer, stand back, place on med-high speed, and relax. It will come together and your patience will be rewarded!
So after I filled and frosted the cake. It was decorating time! My ai daughter had a sort of Barbie Mermaid-Nautical theme and so I found a small Barbie Mermaid that fit perfectly on her cake. I used some crumbled up graham crackers for the “beach” and made some white chocolate sea shells from a Wilton candy mold. I originally wanted the illusion of water, so I was going to make water with some blue jello or piping gel, but after my fiasco with the cake layers, didn’t have enough time. I am glad I had some foresight to buy some Duff’s Cake Graffiti Spray. This spray was like magic on the cake. I sprayed some blue magic on the cake for the illusion of water, had some adorable gummy fish, crabs, etc. and did some sea flower piping to complete the cake. Cakes are really time-consuming and hard to make, which is why I prefer cupcakes. But despite some of the drawbacks, I think the cake turned out well and was rewarded with a big smile from my ai daughter.
And to add more rainbow joy to the party, I made some Tie Dye Cookie Pops and Rainbow Cake Truffles. I also baked some cupcakes for a fun cupcake walk game.
I want to thank my Sissy’s fiancée for taking all of these beautiful pictures of the cake and of the party. It is so hard to play photographer when you are running around the day of the party! Thank you James! And thank you to the family and friend who made my ai daughter’s birthday party a memorable one. Happy Birthday my ai daughter, Mommy loves you lots and lots!