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You Can Make Any Cake a Rainbow Cake

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You can make any cake a rainbow cake – you just need a basic white or yellow cake, lots of bowls, a little patience, and the colours of the rainbow. A happy disposition is recommended (but optional).

Rainbow Cake

Love for Toronto

Toronto is a remarkable city. If you haven’t been to visit, let me tell you, the things you hear about it are true – it’s clean, it’s safe, people are polite. It is such a welcoming city, too – no matter the colour of your skin, no matter your religion (or lack thereof), no matter your ethnicity or sexual orientation, Torontonians accept you for who you are.

Happy Pride!

In fact, we celebrate our diversity, it’s what makes our city unique. And this is most apparent during Pride Week. Pride used to be just about LGBTQ (and it still is) but it’s evolved to become even more inclusive. And it culminates in a Pride Parade where a million people are out on the streets, just being themselves, having a grand time.

Rainbow Cake

This year though, they’ve decided to make it Pride Month, starting today. And what better way to kick off celebrations than with cake? (Cake is always the answer). And what better cake to celebrate with than a rainbow cake?

Your favourite cake, rainbow-fied

Rainbow Cake

A rainbow cake looks intimidating (6 layers!) but it’s really just your favourite white or yellow cake (in my case, I used my favourite vanilla cake) that’s divided into 6 layers and tinted the colours of the rainbow. It takes time and patience but the end result is worth it.

Rainbow cake tips and tricks

You can’t just take any cake and tint it though. There are some things you need to keep in mind:

Rainbow Cake

  • Since this is going to be a 6-layer cake, the cake you pick has to be dense. Stay away from the soft and too moist cakes because after the 4th layer, your cake might not be able to support any more and either sink, sag or just collapse.
  • Pick a cake that has enough batter to be divided into 6. You want layers, not pancakes.
  • When dividing the batter, use a kitchen scale. You can eyeball it but do you really want to take the chance and end up with uneven layers? A kitchen scale is very useful here. You can get one for less than $20.
  • When dividing your batter, remember that there will be residue batter left on the bowl or the cup you’re using to transfer or the spatula you’re using to scrape. So if you have a total batter of 1300g / 6 = 216.67, don’t transfer exactly 216.67 to each bowl because you won’t have enough for your last one. Transfer a gram or two under to account for rogue batter.
  • If you don’t have enough pans, don’t be tempted to use different sizes and plop them into the oven all at once. And you can’t let the batter sit in the bowl waiting for the first batch to bake because the ingredients are reacting to one another more than they should. You’d need to divide the recipe and make only enough for the pans you have (i.e. if you only have 2 8-inch pans, you will have to divide the recipe into 3 so you’ll make it 3 times).
  • You need to use gel food colour. The liquid kind just won’t be vibrant enough and you’ll need to use a lot, which will put too much unnecessary liquid into your batter.
  • Once your cakes are baked, trim the top as well as the sides. Not only to ensure they are even, but also to ensure you get the burnt/brown spots out of there.

Rainbow cake frosting

Rainbow Cake

Now what to frost your cake with. I say pick your favourite frosting and go with it! White is always stunning with the rainbow colours but hey, it’s your rainbow cake and it’s all about celebrating who you are and what makes you happy. Just make sure you have enough frosting to frost between and all over your cake.

In my case, I used my go-to Swiss Meringue Buttercream and it went perfectly with my vanilla rainbow cake. It was delicious.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Brighten up someone’s day with this insanely happy rainbow cake!” quote=”Brighten up someone’s day with this insanely happy rainbow cake!”]

Step back and bask in the colours of the rainbow

Rainbow Cake

I know it looks like a lot of work but when you get into it, it’s really not that difficult. And the moment you cut into the cake and your exquisite layers look right back at you – take a moment and pat yourself in the back. Well done you.

So do your planning, bake this cake and wow your guests, birthday celebrant, yourself.

(Vanilla cake recipe adapted from Ricardo).

Happy baking! (And Happy Pride Toronto!)

Did you make this rainbow cake? Tell me about it in the comments section below. I’d love to hear all about it.

Want another fun cake? Check out this Funfetti Cake.

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Erica Nelson

Wednesday 12th of August 2020

Can I split this recipe in half so I can get shorter 6in cake layers?


Thursday 13th of August 2020

Hi Erica, you can, but I think your layers will be very thin. Best to watch your baking time.

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Saturday 23rd of March 2019

I’ve noticed that when using darker food colorings it’s easier to add the color to the butter before mixing everything. But for a cake like this I would suggest using a more concentrated/deeper shade of red.

Ray Barbian

Friday 31st of May 2019

personally, I find that when it comes to darker colors like Red put about 1/4 table spoon's cocoa powder in. It makes the darker colors pop a bit but the darker tint helps the cake its self not look pink. For this recipe, I would also make the purple with a bit of "CP" in it so it helps with the flavor of the cake all together. I would do it so the red cake wouldn't be the only chocolate cake.


Sunday 31st of March 2019

Adding it to the butter is an interesting idea. I've never tried it...will it change the chemistry of the butter (e.g. the way it reacts to sugar when creaming) in any way?

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Tuesday 17th of October 2017

Thanks for the recipe, I'm making it for my youngest child's 3rd birthday. I think with red food coloring, even the gel, you just have to use way more than you really want to or think necessary. You might also consider using a white cake as the base recipe rather than yellow, the yellow from the egg yolks might have an impact on the final colors.


Tuesday 17th of October 2017

Hi Sarah! I was just talking to my local baking supplies store about red food colour last Saturday! I was telling them how I cannot for the life of me get anything to turn Christmas red (who wants to receive fuchsia Christmas cookies LOL!). They explained that with butter based anything, it is almost impossible so using a white cake is a smart move. They did recommend I try using powdered food colour next time instead of gel. I haven't tried yet though. Have you? PS: Happy birthday to your little one!