Saturday, June 2, 2012

Citrus Rainbow Cake

Things I love: rainbows, baking, cake, making cakes that make my friends ooh and ahh.  I hate being the center of attention, but I love making food and dessert that gets to be the center of attention.

A few weeks ago, I saw a picture of a magnificent rainbow cake posted on's Facebook page.  I was completely drawn to it and new I must find an occasion to make the cake.  So when we were invited to a friend's house for a Memorial Day barbecue, I knew I had to make this cake.  Unfortunately, when I went back to find it on Facebook, I couldn't.  So I obviously consulted Google and searched for rainbow cakes.  I was delighted to find this gem at Pixelated Crumb.  My only concern was vanilla frosting on vanilla's just not my cup of tea.

So I set to polling my WW and Facebook friends on what a rainbow should taste like.  The common answer seemed to be Skittles.  I was more or less set on something like cherry or lemon or lime.  (This may or may not have something to do with my recent obsession with diet Cherry 7-up.)  I momentarily toyed with the idea of making each layer a different flavor: cherry, orange, lemon, lime, blueberry, grape - but I quickly decided that would be too overwhelming.  So, I proceeded with my Cherry 7-up idea.  I decide to make the primary colors lemon flavored, the secondary colors lime flavored, and add some cherry frosting in between each layer.  I kept the vanilla frosting for the sake of keeping a neutral component.

I kinda want to whip up some of this right... just for a snack.

The results: the cake basically tasted like key lime, and the cherry frosting may as well have been vanilla.  The recipe below is for both lemon and lime flavors, but only for the vanilla frosting.

But, Stacey, doesn't making 2 different flavors and 6 different colors take a lot of work?  Okay, I hear you.  Yes, it takes some time.  In fact, I made the cakes on Friday, froze them, and then made the frosting and frosted on Sunday.  Also, you might notice that my layers aren't completely even.  It's because my kitchen scale, which is in my Top 5 of kitchen appliances, completely failed me.  It couldn't weigh the bowl with the batter, so I had no idea how to split it up.  I tried, but I just didn't have enough big bowls or patience.  So in the end, I eyeballed it.  Resulting in about a 20-30 gram difference between the primary color layers and the secondary color layers.  Whoops!

The scale did work to weight out each of the six layers.   Just not the unflavored batter.
I mixed up almost all the batter ingredients.  Then I split the batter, added lemon zest and lemon juice to one half and lime zest and lime juice to the other half.  Then each one got split into 3 small bowls and colored appropriate rainbow colors.  I used those flimsy disposable baking pans from the grocery store, and they worked out quite well.  I let the cakes cool on a wire rack and then wrapped each individually and stuck them in the freezer for about 36 hours before making and frosting the cake.  Kristen at Pixelated Crumb recommends a crumb coat for this cake, but I thought I was soooo smart and since I had previously frozen the cakes that it wouldn't be necessary.  Silly me.  Just do a crumb coat.  Seriously.

I was quite pleased with the way the cake came out.  It got a good amount of oohs and ahhs.  It also got a couple comments from the guys about how it was a gay pride cake.  (Can't a girl just like rainbows?)  Of course, I guess the guys were spot on when I received this comment from a Facebook friend:
well you could totally bake it for a same sex couple! i honestly could see it as a 3 tier wedding cake! great job!
I guess if the Mary Kay thing doesn't work out, I've got a back up plan.

Citrus Rainbow Cake
Inspired by a random photo on, Adapted from Pixelated Crumb (who credits The Whisk Kid and America's Test Kitchen via Diamonds for Dessert)
Servings 12 for generous portions, or 32 "slivers", WW P+ you don't want to know


For Cake:
330 grams (~ 3 cups) all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
525 grams (~ 2 and 1/3 cups) sugar
5 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
zest from 2 lemons
zest from 2 limes
3/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup lime juice
food coloring

For Frosting:
3 sticks butter, softened
6-8 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbsp milk
4 tsp pure vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray six 9" inch cake pans with non cook spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  (I have very littler counter space, so I use a handheld mixer.  Obviously, if you have a countertop mixer, I hate you you can use that.)  Slowly beat in egg whites until well combined.  Add vanilla and mix until it's well incorporated.  Add flour mixture until, a little at a time, until well-combined with butter mix.  Divide batter into 2 equal-as-possible halves.  To one half, mix in lemon zest and lemon juice.  To the other half, mix in lime zest and lime juice.

3.  Divide lemon batter into 3 bowls.  Color one bowl red, one yellow, and one blue.  Divide lime batter into 3 bowls.  Color these green, orange, and purple.  Pour each of the six batters into prepared cake pans.  Bake each at 350 until cake tester (I use a knife) comes out clean.  This was about 12-15 minutes for each layer.  I could only bake 2 at a time, so total baking time was roughly 45 minutes.  Transfer cakes to a wire rack and let cool.  (If you want to save frosting for another day, this is where you would wrap each layer in plastic wrap and freeze.)

4. To make the frosting, cream butter, milk, and vanilla extract together.  Mix in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until it thickens up.  After 6 cups, add 1/4 cup at a time until desired consistency.

5. To assemble cake, lay down purple layer, smooth frosting on top.  Repeat with blue layer, followed by green, yellow, orange, and red.  Once topped with red layer, lay the frosting on thicker on top and frost the sides of the cake.


1 comment:

  1. YUM! there's nothing better than a fun rainbow cake! :)

    andrea brionne