Somewhere Over the Rainbow… there’s CAKE!

Rainbow cake!
Unintentionally planned, but appropriate considering this June has been declared LGBT Pride Month by the President for the 5th time in history. That being said, consider this my statement of piece (peace?) on the matter!

…and on to the baking. I have heard that using gel food color instead of liquid produces bolder colors, but I already had a set of liquid and didn’t really care too much to go out and buy a set of gel… I also started with a lemon cake base so it was pale yellow to begin with, which definitely affected the hues of the blue and purple layers. I also learned what “cultured” cream cheese is… there is a great creamery in Springfield called Nancy’s that produces excellent yogurts, kefir, cottage cheese, sour cream, you name it – and they are all about using natural ingredients. No artificial sweeteners (they use honey) or thickeners, which I think is what I needed for my frosting. My roommate and I recently moved and there is a mini mart downstairs, and 8oz of Nancy’s was surprisingly cheaper than 8oz of Philadelphia by almost $1. The cream cheese-butter mixture kind of curdled and liquefied when I beat it… I had to beat the crap out of it and add cornstarch along with the powdered sugar, which threw the taste off a little bit it was still ok. I grated some fresh lemon zest into it for flavor continuity. Anyway, the colors turned out great! I used two 8″ round cake pans and separated the batter into 6 separate bowls to mix in the food coloring. It was very moist because the layers were so thin which allowed them to bake quickly and evenly, and to cool quickly. I just spread a small layer of frosting between each cake layer to glue it together. This cake was not the best of my abilities, but I was fairly discouraged after the frosting malfunction. Lesson learned – sometimes you need the fake stuff (artificial stabilizers and thickeners) to make your baked goods work!

I would provide a recipe, but I don’t have one because I cheated and used a boxed lemon cake mix, but here are the tips I would pass on to you in your rainbow cake endeavors:

  • Butter/grease your pans generously.
  • Don’t be afraid to use too much food coloring, especially the liquid kind… I used about 10 drops per color. The batter baked pretty true to color. Use gel food coloring for bolder colors, especially if using a darker batter.
  • Use a 1 cup dry measure to divide up the batter – each will end up being about 1 full cup.
  • Use a spatula to spread the batter all the way to the edges of the pans – it won’t do this by itself!
  • Let the baked layers cool completely and use a spoon to run gently around the edges of the baked layers to help remove them from the pan.
  • Wash and re-grease the pans between layers (if, like me, you don’t happen to have 6 cake pans lying around).
  • Reduce the oven temp by about 25 degrees, and don’t over-bake! 8 minutes was all I needed.
  • DON’T USE CULTURED CREAM CHEESE FOR THE FROSTING!

I will definitely do this again… it is a fun surprise to cut in to! I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but have refrained from doing so knowing the kind of trouble I would get into with a whole cake sitting around for no reason. So, my reason was my parents visiting! I want to do it using my own white cake recipe, a cherry chip cake mix, and I’d like to experiment to see what kind of rusty fall hues a spice cake might produce. It looks better in my head than it will probably turn out. Maybe next time I will double the recipe so the layers are thicker. Or a Funfetti cake mix? So many possibilities!

Blah blah blah, boring…

Ta-dah!

One of the best parts was the rainbow sticking to the knife:

Yum yum! I apologize for the poor quality photos.

Grading myself on this little experiment: taste – OK, presentation – awesome!
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