Apr 24, 2012

Rainbow madness

Making this very pretty, slightly unhealthy but incredibly beautiful rainbow cake is no joke. Especially if you only have one small oven and one cake pan to work with. All in all? It took me about 3 hours! But it was all worth it, especially after everyone went "ooh" and "aah" when they started slicing the cake.

A friend was turning 22 and she was asking for a rainbow cake. Honestly, I jumped at the opportunity to make this for 2 reasons:
  1. I have another excuse to bake and not study.
  2. And it's for her birthday so how could I possibly turn her down?
So then I started looking around for recipes and I came across this. I was so mesmerized at its prettiness. Luckily I started baking this cake the night before her party. If not, I would have been a zombie at her birthday.

One scary thing about this cake is that you really wouldn't know if the cake is successful until you cut it. Each of the 6 layers that I made were looking so flat and thin. I was worried that the layers wouldn't stand out.

Even after stacking them up and spreading the white frosting in between each layer, I still wasn't convinced that it would come out successful.

Fast forward to the night of the party. The cutting of the cake. I was really really nervous because everyone except the birthday girl knew about the cake. And I was just worried that the 6 different colors will not really stand out. Thankfully it did!

One of my proudest creations to date I think.

Before you even begin, think carefully if you want to bake this because it is time consuming and if you are not the patient sort, this might not be one of the recipes you want to try just yet.

A few tips before you start baking:
  • Make sure your butter is at room temperature or soft enough so that the mixer wouldn't have a hard time creaming the butter later on.
  • Depending on how much cleaning you want to do, you can just use 1 bowl at the end to make the different colored layers or you can have 6 different bowls. I just used 1 to minimize the amount of cleaning.
  • Measure the weight of the mixing bowl and the bowl where you'll form the colors. This is more for people who really cannot estimate properly (yours truly). But if you can divide the batter equally without measuring, then no worries.
  • Cut out 6 circles of baking sheet.
Now for the actual work. Recipe adapted from bakingdom.
  • Preheat the oven to 180ºC. (If your oven is hotter than it usually is, just drop the temperature by 10ºC.)
  • If your pan is non-stick, remember to grease the sides. Or, just cut up strips of baking paper to line the side and line the bottom with one of the 6 circles you made.
  • 4 eggs + 1/2 cup milk + 2 tsps vanilla extract - whisk everything in a measuring cup and set aside (if your measuring cup is too small, just transfer it into a separate bowl but I like to minimize the number of items I need to clean)
  • 230 g butter - cut into cubes
  • 1 3/4 cake flour + 2 tsps baking powder (if your cake flour is self-raising then leave this out) + pinch of salt - combine in a mixing bowl
  • With the mixer on low, add a cube of butter. Continue until all butter has been used and you should get a sand-like texture.
  • With the mixer still running, add 1 cup of the egg mixture and mix until incorporated. Beat until light and fluffy. Pour in the remaining egg mixture slowly. Don't panic if your batter starts to curdle. It'll still bake nicely. Just make sure that the flour and egg mixture are incorporated.
  • Stop mixing. Weigh the bowl again to find the weight of the batter. Divide the weight by 6. (Because you have 6 layers. Weight of 1 layer = Total weight of batter / 6.. Sorry. Math major in me talking)..
  • Place the amount of 1 layer into the extra bowl you have for forming the colors.
  • Because I used 1 bowl, I was really careful with which layer I chose to do first. I used liquid coloring, but preferably if you can, use the food coloring gel (you will only need a drop or 2 of the coloring gel. With the liquid one you need at least 6 before you get the desired color.)
  • I had 4 liquid colors to work with. Green, blue, red and yellow. So I had to mix colors to get the purple and orange. I started off with the brigheter colors before the slightly more darker ones.
  • Sequence of colors: yellow, orange, red, blue, green, purple (if you are using 1 bowl and are really worried about the colors "contaminating" one another, just use 6 different bowls or wipe any excess colored batter with paper towel - a less eco-friendly option)
  • My oven was hotter and the pan was wider, so less time was needed to bake each layer. I would say it took about 15 minutes to bake each layer. But sometimes you will need to bake it for approximately 25 minutes. If you're worried, skewer it. Don't worry about making too many holes because you'll be frosting the cake later on.
  • This is really crucial. MAKE SURE your cake is COMPLETELY cooled down. Because if you frost it when it is warm, your icing is going to melt. Things you could do while waiting for it to cool? Have a cup of tea. Clean up whatever mess you made. Anything. Just leave the cake alone!
So for the frosting, I made an italian meringue or if you want a nicer name for it, royal icing!
  • 3 egg whites + 3 cups of icing sugar (I know it is a lot but you want the frosting to set really nicely!) - place it in a bowl and over a pot of simmering water and start whisking (advisable to use and electric mixer but if you feel like you want a mini work out to compensate for all the sugar, then go ahead but don't say I didn't warn you).
  • You want a pretty thick consistency. Thick enough so that the frosting does not spread all over the place.
  • Start frosting!
  • Sequence: purple, frost, blue, frost, green, frost, yellow, frost, orange, frost, red and frost the whole cake after!
  • Decorate however you like! I used smarties and M&M's. Sister's genius idea. (: But just have fun with it!
Phew. That took awhile. But definitely, one of my proudest creations to date. (:

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