Rainbow zebra cake served on a cake stand with candles

Rainbow zebra cake

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(9 ratings)

Prep: 50 mins Cook: 30 mins


Serves 12

Celebrate our 30th birthday with us – or your own special occasion – with this impressive rainbow sponge. Iced with buttercream and topped with coloured sprinkles, it's a cake that has the wow factor

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: Per serving (16)

  • kcal620
  • fat36g
  • saturates22g
  • carbs87g
  • sugars49g
  • fibre1g
  • protein6g
  • salt1.1g
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  • 375g salted butter, softened, plus extra for the tin



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 375g golden caster sugar
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature



    The ultimate convenience food, eggs are powerhouses of nutrition packed with protein and a…

  • 375g self-raising flour
  • 1½ 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…

  • 150ml milk



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a 'complete' food…

  • blue and pink food colouring (see tip, below)
  • sprinkles, to decorate

For the icing

  • 250g salted butter, softened



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 400g icing sugar, sifted
  • vanilla pod, seeds scraped out



    The sun-dried seed pod of a type of climbing orchid, vanilla has an inimitable soft, sweet…

  • 100g full-fat cream cheese


  1. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Butter and line three 20cm loose-bottomed sandwich cake tins with baking parchment.

  2. To make the sponge, beat the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or using an electric whisk for 5-8 mins or until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour, baking powder and milk to loosen. Divide the mixture between three mixing bowls, weighing for accuracy if you like. Colour one of the batters blue and another pink, starting with a little colouring, then adding more for a deeper finish. Leave one of the bowls of batter uncoloured.

  3. Get the three cake tins and bowls of batter ready in front of you. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of blue batter into the centre of the first tin, then pink in the second, and plain in the third. Working quickly so that it doesn’t spread too much, add another dollop of a different coloured batter on top of each one. Don’t wait for the batter to settle or spread, just keep alternating the colours until you run out. The weight of each layer will cause the batter to spread as you go, so very gently tap and shake the cake tins to even out the mixture, then bake in the centre of the oven for 25-30 mins or until firm to the touch. Turn out top-side down onto wire racks straightaway, then leave to cool completely.

  4. For the icing, put the butter, icing sugar and vanilla seeds into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or put in a bowl and use an electric whisk. Beat for 5 mins or until fluffy and aerated. Add the cream cheese and beat briefly until just combined.

  5. Place one of the cakes on a cake stand or serving plate and spread 2 tbsp of the buttercream on top, then repeat with the other sponges. Spread a smooth layer of the icing over the top and sides of the cake, using a large palette knife, leaving some slightly less iced spots for a ‘naked’ finish. Top with sprinkles and candles, if you like. Will keep in an airtight tin for three days.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Isabel Keightley's picture
Isabel Keightley
29th Jun, 2020
Love this recipe! I made it for my Sister on her Birthday and she loved it. I would NOT recommend putting food colouring in the third on I would just leave it plain like the recipe says.
15th Jun, 2020
This cake turned out so well. Looked fantastic and tasted great. Used concentrated gel food colouring and the colours were really vibrant.
9th Nov, 2019
It was fantastic! The colours looked great, I did blue and green instead, and everyone said how lovely it was and asked for the recipe. Very happy!
Caroline Chapman's picture
Caroline Chapman
20th Oct, 2019
Very disappointed with the colour, it wasn’t at all rainbow or zebra like but looked mouldy inside due to absence of the pink colour and the blue fading after cooking! A real shame as it tasted lovely!
4th Jul, 2020
Can this be 'veganised' please? I would like to make an vegan rainbow cake
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