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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    kerielaine1's picture
    23rd Nov, 2013
    Made this cake for a 6 month anniversary for my girlfriend and I. Followed it exactly aside from not doing a pink layer. She loved it and everyone who tried it thought it was beautiful AND delicious.
    23rd Nov, 2013
    My daughter wanted this cake for her 4th Birthday, we decorate with strawberries it looks fantastic but it is quite filling and heavy.
    15th Nov, 2013
    My mum made this cake for my sons 5th birthday. She said it was quite simple to make. We used Americolor pastes and it turned out just like picture. AMAZING. And it would have to be one of the best cakes I've ever tasted. DELICIOUS.
    6th Nov, 2013
    I wish I'd read the tips on types of colourings to use - I used supermarket - brand colours, which were fine when mixing into the cake batter, but once cooked, had almost faded completely from the sponge, leaving a weird looking cake, not resembling a rainbow at all. The colours also left the sponges with an odd, unpleasant flavour. I'm just glad it was a practise-run: my children won't be having a rainbow cake for their birthday now. So my top tip is: don't use supermarket brand colourings!
    30th Oct, 2013
    worst cake ever very heavy and really think i followed the recipes to the letter and it did not look ant think like the picture colors were wishy washy i was making this for a mates bday cake so now got to make a different one cos this was TERRIBLE next time i will look at the comments DONT MAKE THIS CACK U WILL BE WASTING YOUR TIME !!!
    25th Oct, 2013
    This is the worst cake I have ever made and I love making cakes. The food colourings came out wishy washy the cake texture was heavy and not tasty. I used mascarpone and icing sugar instead of butter cream, which was a big mistake as it was to slippery between the layers, a nightmare to cut.
    15th Oct, 2013
    I would love to make a cake like this! I think it is very well explained, thank you!
    RainbowCake7533's picture
    28th Sep, 2013
    I thought it was fantastic! The way I made it certainly didn't look the part! I am only 12 years old, but I made it without help and it tasted fantastic, and it was fun to make. :) I recommend this recipe!!!!
    26th Sep, 2013
    I thought this cake was great to make, really quick and easy - managed to make it with just 2 tins within an hour. Used a mix of Dr Oetker gels and liquids and came out fine and didn't effect the taste. Light and fluffy, although I used insant buttercream from a tin rather than making it myself!
    22nd Sep, 2013
    Don't make this cake. The colours were vibrant, and I used a cookie cutter to cut the middle out of the two middle cakes, and filled with smarties. It certainly looked the part, but I've never tasted such a horrible cake.... Heavy, rubbery, bland. If I did it again, I'd use a standard 4-4-2 sponge recipe. Next time I'll read the comments.


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