Rainbow cake

Rainbow cake

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(92 ratings)

Prep: 2 hrs Cook: 1 hr

A challenge

Cuts into 18 slices
A stunning celebration cake of six or seven colourful layers and cream cheese frosting - an impressive showstopper.

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freeze un-iced sponges only

Nutrition: per slice

  • kcal601
  • fat29g
  • saturates18g
  • carbs73g
  • sugars47g
  • fibre2g
  • protein11g
  • salt0.6g
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    You'll need 3 x these ingredients for six sponges

    • 125g butter, softened, plus a little extra for greasing



      Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

    • 225g plain flour
    • 150g golden caster sugar
    • 3 medium eggs (very important to use the correct size)
    • 1 tsp baking powder
      Baking powder

      Baking powder

      bay-king pow-dah

      Baking powder is a raising agent that is commonly used in cake-making. It is made from an alkali…

    • 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


    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

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    Comments, questions and tips

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    1st Apr, 2013
    No stars for this cake. Hugely disappointed. The frosting was too runny and couldn't be used. The sponges tasted of nothing and were too heavy. The whole cake was thrown away. A waste of money. This could not have been tested due to the large amount of negative comments.
    1st Apr, 2013
    No stars from me either, looked great but as previous comments tasted of nothing much and texture very dense.
    1st Apr, 2013
    No stars for this cake I'm afraid, a complete disappointment and frustrating, as this was the centre piece for Easter day afternoon tea. I have never had this issue with Good Food recipes previously, but this was solid, tasted awful and as some other readers have found, expensive to make. We had to throw it away, which is massively irritating!
    kathryndonna's picture
    1st Apr, 2013
    I agree with the other comments about this cake. It needs a lot of food colouring and the taste and texture of the end result just isn't worth it. Looks impressive but very heavy and quite unpleasant to eat.
    1st Apr, 2013
    To the people who have commented on the runny frosting, the recipe seems to be mistaken in recommending using light cream cheese. That is too watery. I use this American style frosting often, and you really need full fat cream cheese for it to be successful.
    31st Mar, 2013
    This is an expensive cake to make. It looks very impressive but the cake is quite dense and doesn't taste very good. The comments above re Dr Oetker food colourings are correct - weak and washed out results. Also as above the icing can be weak and runny. I had to re-make it using full fat cream cheese rather than low fat. Overall an impressive looking cake but disappointing tate for the cost involved.
    31st Mar, 2013
    I unfortunately have to agree with the comments above. I used some food colourings my nan had which were AMAZING, but I was very let down by the dr oetker colourings... Used a whole tube of blue and still came out almost more green/turquoise. Made it for Easter and the whole family agreed it was quite heavy and dense. Also had a problem with the icing, left it in the fridge for about 5 hours before putting on the cake and still didn't set. On the whole very aesthetically pleasing, slightly lacking in any taste and would probably try a standard buttercream next time. Definitely a show stopper visually though! :)
    31st Mar, 2013
    When I saw this recipe,I thought it would be an ideal Easter cake, but I have to say that I wish I hadn'y bothered! The Dr. Oetker food colour gels certainly didn't produce the vibrant colours shown in the Good Food Magazine, the sponges were as flat as a pancake, heavy and dense. That along with the fact that the sponge tasted odd all added upto a regrettable waste of time. Was this recipe actually tested as it is really is not up to the usually excellent standard of recipes that I've come to expect from Good Food.
    31st Mar, 2013
    I tried this as an Easter project, and was very disappointed with the icing. The cakes also seemed quite flat, and I don't usually have problems with sponges. The icing, despite very minimal mixing, was far too runny, and slid down the sides. Buttercream may work better. I also agree that the Dr Oketer colours are not brilliant.
    31st Mar, 2013
    I used Wilton concentrated colouring paste from Steamer Trading - very expensive but I only had to use a little so they will last ages. Despite a disaster with the icing (really running despite minimal mixing - possibly the cheese I bought?) the cake looked great and won me the best looking cake title in a Comic Relief bake-off. However, I didn't think it tasted amazing - dense and not masses of flavour in the cake itself. So if you want something that tastes delicious, I wouldn't recommend this bake, but for showiness, not much can beat it.


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