Rainbow cake

Rainbow cake

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(86 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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    ShurikenNinja's picture
    16th Jan, 2014
    This looks delicous :)
    13th Jan, 2014
    Do not try this recipe!! I baked it and it was horrible! The cake was really hard! I tried using an vanilla sponge recipe and adding colouring to it and it's much better..
    9th Jan, 2014
    If I could give this recipe a 0 then I would. I made this twice as i thought I must have gone wrong but it tastes horrible. Very dense and doughy. I like to think I can bake and have made many cakes in my life but this recipe just didn't work. I would recommend that you adapt a victoria sponge recipe and go from there.
    RainbowCake7533's picture
    8th Feb, 2014
    You must have done something wrong, because I did it and it tasted great!
    4th Jan, 2014
    "try Dr Oetker gel food colours in Bright Red, Neon Orange, Sunshine Yellow, Lime Green, Sky Blue, Ultra Violet and Hot Pink" -- Personally I wouldn't. I used 2 Dr Oetker tubes per layer of a similar rainbow cake and the colour was not very vibrant at all. Try Wilton or Americolor.
    bakinggirl999's picture
    24th Dec, 2013
    looks great but tastes horrid
    Kerry Cooks
    25th Nov, 2013
    So rubbish that everyone is still having issues with this cake! If you want a more reliable one, try my recipe - check out the comments for all the positive reviews! kerrycooks.com/easy-6-layer-rainbow-cake-step-by-step/
    1st Feb, 2014
    After my earlier mishap with rainbow cake using the BBC Good Food recipe above, I decided to try your recipe. The result was perfect. Thank you Kerry.
    kerielaine1's picture
    23rd Nov, 2013
    I made this cake for my and my girlfriend's 6 month anniversary. I followed the recipe exactly, aside from the pink layer. I wanted a traditional rainbow. ;) I used Dr. O's food gels in red, yellow and green, mixing my own secondary colours. Even though each layer appeared a bit light, once put together they complimented each other nicely. If I wasn't a poor student I would have bought 6 individual gels for brighter colours but I was trying to keep the cost under 10 quid. The cream cheese icing was perfect. I stuck it in the fridge to chill and set up a bit because it was initially pretty runny. First time ever making sponge. First time ever making my own frosting and first 6 layer cake! It turned out perfect! She loved it, I loved it, the friends we shared with loved it. Thank you!
    kerielaine1's picture
    23rd Nov, 2013
    In terms of what I used, I used red, blue and yellow food gels. Mixing my own secondary colours. I used the cream cheese icing as the recipe called for, even using Lidl brand soft cheese as I'm a poor uni student. Wish I could attach a photo. The recipe was easy, first time ever making sponge. So happy.


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