Holy cow, I can't believe I haven't posted here in over a year! Quite a lot has changed in the last 15 months. For starters, last spring, I decided to devote less time to crafty stuff and more time to starting a photography business, focusing on kids' parties. Shortly after that, we decided to get our house ready to put on the market, which meant my craft room had to be dismantled and packed up. And then, the biggest change, the hubby got a job in Seattle, so we moved across the country! Crazy.
Believe it or not, I have still been making stuff, just not as often. I noticed recently that I'm still getting a decent amount of traffic here, thanks in large part to the hot pads tutorial, and thought maybe it was a sign to revive this blog now that my photo biz is on hold. So with the exception of last year's Yo Gabba Gabba party, I'm going to skip playing catch-up and just dive in to my latest project, E's 5th birthday party!
This year, after some gentle nudging, she settled on a rainbow theme. I not-so-subtly led her into it, knowing that from a decorating standpoint, it'd be fairly easy since I could just mix bright solid colors. The one big request E made though was for a rainbow cake, like she saw on the Pinterest board I started for her party. Yes, my 5yo is as obsessed with Pinterest as her mommy. She frequently asks to look at it with me and has even started to tell me to take pictures of things and pin them, LOL!
Anyways, I'm a pretty good baker and used to have some decent cake decorating skills back in the day, so I dusted them off and got to work 2 days before the party. I realized after clicking through numerous pins that there aren't a ton of detailed instructions on how to actually make the rainbow cake, so I thought I'd run through them here as a kind of quasi-tutorial.
To start, I mixed up a batch of my favorite white cake recipe. I love the one from Cook's Illustrated/The Best Recipe, but you could use any recipe you want, or even a mix from a box. I would just recommend that you stick with white cake, and not use yellow, so that you get the truest colors. To make the layers as even as possible (mostly so I wouldn't have to deal with trimming them down later), I divided each batch of batter by weight into equal portions, then added the food coloring. To make things easier, I mixed up two separate batches of batter for six layers of cake, total.
A side note on food coloring: to get the best, brightest colors, I highly recommend you find a cake supply store and buy gel coloring. Not only will you find a better selection of colors, but the colors are WAY more intense, you don't have to use very much (a small bottle will last you forever), and it won't water down your batter. It's also what I use to color icing for decorated cookies. I prefer Americolor brand gels in super red, orange, lemon yellow, leaf green, sky blue, and violet. I added somewhere between 4-6 drops for each separate layer.
I forgot to get out my camera to take shots of the cake batter, but here's a quickie I snapped with my phone of the second batch, right before it went into the oven. I used 9-inch round pans that I greased and put a piece of parchment paper in the bottom.
Once the layers came out of the oven, I let them sit in the pan for a few minutes, then turned them out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Then I stuck them in my freezer overnight. Frozen cake is much easier to work with since you can pick it up and move it around and not worry as much about breaking them.
Here are the baked and assembled layers. I had to trim the sides a little bit with a serrated knife since my pans were not all exactly the same size. You can see that the color intensity did not significantly diminish after baking.
In the interest of saving time, I purchased pre-made frosting from the cake supply store. They told me that 2 pounds would cover a 10-inch cake, but I figured since I was making an extra tall 9-inch cake, I'd better get an extra pound, just to be safe. Well, I ended up using all 3 lbs just to assemble the layers and do the crumb coat. Yikes! The hubby kindly went back to get 2 more pounds so I could finish.
Here's a pic of the crumb coat. Back into the fridge to chill for a few hours.
Then the final coat of frosting, and back into the fridge for the night. I couldn't get the sides as smooth as I'd normally like, but it got very late and I had to throw in the towel at a certain point. Here is the finished cake:
I had originally planned on decorating the sides of the cake with rainbow sprinkles, but happened to find both the rainbow-shaped decorations and rainbow candles at the cake supply store when I went to pick up cakeboards and coloring gel. I'm really glad, as I think it really makes the cake look more festive.
I was pretty proud of how the cake turned out. Both the kids and adults at the party were excited about it, and there was even a little cheer when I cut and removed the first slice.