Rainbow cake

Rainbow cake

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(49 ratings)

By

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Cooking time

Prep: 2 hrs Cook: 1 hr

Skill level

For the keen cook

Servings

Cuts into 18 slices

A stunning celebration cake of six or seven colourful layers and a buttercream icing - an impressive showstopper.

Nutrition and extra info

Additional info

  • Freeze un-iced sponges only
Nutrition info

Nutrition per slice

kcalories
601
protein
11g
carbs
73g
fat
29g
saturates
18g
fibre
2g
sugar
47g
salt
0.6g

Ingredients

You'll need 3 x these ingredients for six sponges

  • 125g butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing
  • 225g plain flour
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs (very important to use the correct size)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • edible food colouring - red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple, plus optional pink (see below)

For the icing

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 x 250g tubs cream cheese or mascarpone
  • 350g icing sugar

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Method

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease 2 x 20cm round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Tip all the sponge ingredients, apart from the food colouring, into a mixing bowl, then beat with an electric whisk until smooth.

Working quickly, weigh the mixture into another bowl to work out the total weight, then weigh exactly half the mixture back into the mixing bowl. Pick 2 of your colours and stir a little into each mix. Keep going until you are happy with the colour – the colour of the batter now will be very similar to the finished cake, so be brave! Scrape the different batters into the tins, trying to spread and smooth as much as possible – but try not to waste a drop of the batter – a rubber spatula will help you. Bake on the same oven shelf for 12 mins until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.

Gently turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool. Wash the tins and bowls thoroughly, and start again from step 1
– this time using another 2 colours. Unless you’re making the optional pink layer, repeat one more time to get 6 sponges, all of different colours. Leave them all to cool.

To make the icing, very briefly beat the vanilla and cream cheese or mascarpone with an electric whisk until smooth. Sift in the icing sugar and gently fold in with a spatula. Be careful – the more you work it, the runnier it will get, increasing the chance of splitting.

Smear a little icing on your cake stand or plate – just a splodge to stick the first sponge. Start with the red, then spread with some icing right to the very edge. Repeat, sandwiching on top the orange, yellow, green, blue and finally purple sponges. Spread the remaining icing thickly all over the sides and top of the cake. For more tips and expert advice on how to create the perfect rainbow cake, check out our tips, below.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, April 2013

Comments, questions and tips

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Comments

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emmatopsom's picture

I also just used buttercream icing!

emmatopsom's picture

I made this but didn't really follow recipe. I used a usual Victoria sponge recipe and added a little vanilla for flavour. I used Dr Oetker colours but had to put whole tube in for each colour. It turned out beautiful, sponge was light and you couldn't taste colour but using all 7 colours it was a giant!! I think next time I might use less mix.

JudithWeir's picture

I have just read all the comments and feeling nervous about how this will turn out taste wise. Also had issues getting the colour vibrant as in the picture, used mixture of dr otker and silver spoon colours and gels, silver spoon was brighter and didn't need as much of the bottle. I also found icing runny and have totally rearranged fridge to fit it in! No room for the other party food! Looks the part and hoping it tastes half decent. It's for my 2 year old so he won't care but really want this to taste as good as it will hopefully look when I slice into it tomorrow! Will report back. Reporting back post party.....cake looked the part, colours vivid enough to know which is which but very dense compared to my usual cakes and a very very big portion. Was fine but doubt i will make it again.

squamoid's picture
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I've made this cake 4 times and I've had very little problem with it. I invested in some Sugarflair colour pastes which I think has probably made the difference as you really don't need very much for a vibrant colour. Yes, the sponges are denser but I thought they still tasted lovely. My only issue would be with the icing, as it does get a bit runny, even with minimal mixing. Because of this, I do tend to keep it in the fridge until it's needed. I think I'm going to try what someone else suggested on here - buttercream on the outside and alternate layers with jam in the middle.

ehb102's picture

The sponges I made were really not good. Dense and rubbery. The Wilton gel colours looked amazing, but a slice is too big for anything but dessert.

treggy23's picture

My mum made this for my daughters party. Like many of the comments, a whole bottle of food colouring went into the each layer. The cake was very dense, and not very enjoyable which was a shame as she put alot of time, love and effort, not to mention the expense, into this cake. Whilst the colours weren't as vibrabt as they should have been, it still did look fantastic.

eftygang5's picture
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I have given this cake 1 star as it kept my daughter entertained for an hour or so whilst she made it. In agreement with the majority of the other reviewers this cake was a bit of a disaster. Extremely dense, no rise whatsoever and a very strange taste, in fact my portion went in the bin! I wasn't around when the ingredients were weighed out or I would have definitely changed the plain flour for self raising, it is a sponge at the end of the day. Don't waste your time and effort with this cake, think you may regret it....

ruthmum's picture
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I made this cake for my daughter's birthday - the cake itself was lovely but, as posters have already said, people either loved or hated the taste of it (most of the kids preferred to eat chocolate fingers). My problem was with the icing, which looked like melting ice-cream - if only I'd read the comments beforehand! I would happily make the cake again but would buy a blue paste this time - all the other colours were fine but the blue came out green - and would definitely use mascarpone.

babyocho's picture

I am planning to make this and just for the Dr Ottaks from so will be returning those.

What is a good brand of colouring to use?

maplesyrup's picture
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I made this for a children's birthday party - it looked amazing but unfortunately the cake itself was quite rubbery and my little boy refused to eat it - very disappointing given the time and expense it took to make the cake.

meeshy77's picture
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Having read the other comments I was very apprehensive about making this, but my daughter had seen it on the cover of the magazine and asked for it for her birthday cake.... I was really pleased with the result. The cake was moist, tasted good and looked amazing. I had so many positive comments about it. I used the dr oetker food colourings and they worked very well, the colours were great and very distinct from each other. I did ave trouble with the frosting - despite following the instructions to the letter it was too runny. I did use it to sandwich the layers together, but covered the cake in ordinary butter cream. My daughter loved it and it was a big hit. Would definitely make it again, but the trouble with the frosting means I can only give it 4 stars.

irenelodge's picture

I also found this very disappointing. I agree with the comments about Dr. Oerter food colouring. It was very weak,used whole tubs which spoilt taste. Sponges very dense and icing runny

wyomingerin's picture
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This cake looks beautiful. I used gel colours and there were lots of oohs and aahs when we cut the cake. However, it tasted awful. I make lots and lots of cakes, many from your web site and this was by far the worst. My 12 year old daughter said, I think that is the worst cake you have ever made. No one asked for seconds and we ended up putting it in the bin. Sadly it was an awful lot of effort. I think this recipe should be looked at or tested again. It is far too dense and the egg vs. flour in it has not been worked out correctly.

izzyozzy123's picture

There are many cakes like this at this website,
https://www.facebook.com/cakesjojo
take a look and see if there is anything you like, if there is why not click like so you can get updated on new cakes and handy tips for cake baking!
many thanks,
Jo x

aurora73's picture
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Made today for my son's 13th birthday..after reading all comments from users, v helpful. Four stars as pretty. I used a lot of food colourings bought from supermarket, reluctant to spend a lot on colouring. I'm very good at decorating cakes yet rarely make them. Results showed (almost entire bottle of blue food dye produced pale blue). Half of the colours are washed out. Expected. Yet the rainbow effect is visually pleasing. Surprised that the liquid did not unbalance the thick cake mix. Producing flat yet risen cakes. Perfect for stacking. I used mascarpone for frosting. No problems. Would have increased amount by a third. Not a cake to make for taste. Fun. Pretty. Inspiring. I think this is a very easy cake to make. Not as time consuming as usual occasion cakes.

malvernmum's picture
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Really not happy with this recipe. Spent a lot of money on the ingredients - light Philly and Dr Oetker gel colours, only to log on to check out the comments as my test run of 2 layers and a bit of icing turned out awful, only to find lots of other comments saying the Dr Oetker colours are no good, and it should be full fat Philly never the light stuff! I've promised my daughter this cake for her 13th birthday party in 4 days so now have to go find another way of doing a similar cake. Thanks BBC Good Food, I have never had a problem with ANY of your recipes in the past 14 years, this is a first!

littleones59's picture
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my ten yr old daughter made this cake with little help from me. we also made it with gluten free flour and used butter icing and lemon curd in between the layers. it looked amazing although really tall! may use larger tins next time! also bought food colour gels from amazon.

laurabethanymay's picture
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Did anybody find that the mixture was extremely thick and sticky? almost dough like? i made this cake the other day and ended up adding a fair bit of milk to each of my mixtures as i could not even spread the mixture into the cake tin... The cake still looked absolutely fabulous though (although i just used a butter icing) and the cake impressed the birthday girl very much. The taste was quite doughy though, and the cake itself very dense.. when leftovers were kept in the fridge overnight the cake became even more dense. 5 stars for looks as it looked brilliant ... but only 3 stars for taste unfortunately.

easytiggerr1978's picture

Further to my last comment on friday. The cake actually went down ok. Everyone was impressed by the look of the cake. The sponges are a little dense and lack flavour so if i made it again i may add some extra flavouring to sponges. The buttercream icing I think helped with this and i may be tempted to also flavour that or use chocolate to improve the overall flavour of the cake. It wasnt completely inedible but it also wasnt the best cake ive ever made! The colours werent as vibrant as the picture but still gave a pleasing end finish.

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