Rainbow Layer Birthday Cake

3 May

Happy birthday to me!!! Yes, I made my own birthday cake. I am now 28 years old and making my own cake. I could have asked my husband to make it for me, but I’m not sure that would have worked out too well. And my pastry chef sister lives across the country in Seattle, so that option was out. So I guess I figured I could just make it myself. In fact, two months ago, my friend (Gina Masri…thanks!) sent me a link to this Martha Stewart recipe and right then and there, I knew that I wanted to make it for my own birthday. I’ve been counting down to this moment and here it is! I get to have a fun birthday with presents and family (gotta love my priorities) AND I get to make a crazy rainbow cake. Does life get any better?!?

Rainbow Layer Cake Ingredients

vegetable spray

3 cups all-purpose flour

4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted margarine, room temperature

2 1/3 cups sugar

5 egg whites, room temperature

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups soy milk, room temperature

red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple gel food coloring

*for the frosting, you can make homemade buttercream (he recipe is below but mine didn’t work out too well) or use 3 containers of pre-made vanilla frosting, such as Duncan Hines

I preheated the two ovens in my kitchen to 350 degrees. If you only have one oven, just heat that one up. I prepared six 9-inch-round foil pans with vegetable spray, then lined the bottom of each with parchment paper and sprayed again.

In a large bowl, I whisked together the flour, baking powder and salt. In an electric mixer, I creamed together the margarine and sugar. Slowly, I added the egg whites and mixed until well combined.

I added the vanilla and mixed until fully incorporated. Next, I mixed in the flour mixture and soy milk in two alternating additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk.

Now came the really fun part! I divided the batter evenly between six medium bowls. Each bowl contained around 1 cup of batter. I used Wilton Icing Colors to dye the cakes. You can use any brand of gel food coloring, but I think the Wilton concentrated gels give a vibrant color without thinning the batter.

 I wore gloves while I dyed the batter so I wouldn’t get any color on my hands. I suggest you do the same, unless you want multi-colored fingers! I added 1/8 tsp. of each color to its designated bowl and whisked away. I added a bit more for the red batter, since I didn’t think the color was bright enough. Between each bowl, I washed the whisk so the colors wouldn’t combine.

I transferred each color to the prepared cake pans then moved those pans in to the ovens. If you don’t have room in your oven for all six pans, you can bake them in batches. The cakes baked for only 15 minutes, so if you need to work in batches, it won’t take too long.

I removed the cakes from the oven and transferred them to a wire rack. After cooling for 10 minute s, I inverted the cakes onto a wire rack; re-inverted and let cool completely.

While the cakes were cooling, I attempted to make the frosting that Martha Stewart recommended: Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It didn’t work out too well, so I’ll just give you the basics. I decided not to remake the frosting because it called for 6 sticks of butter and I wasn’t ready to actually eat that much fat!

So here it goes: I cooked 9 egg whites and 1 3/4 cups of sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until the sugar was dissolved. I transferred to an electric mixer and whisked on high until the mixture was room temperature. I think this is where I made my mistake. The directions did not say how long to whisk so I wasn’t sure how fluffy the mixture should have been. I just had to guess…and I think I guessed wrong. With the mixer on medium-low, I added the pieces of margarine (4 sticks, room temperature, cut into small pieces), one piece at a time, mixing well after each addition. That took a while, which is another reason I didn’t want to remake the frosting and just “settled” on delicious Duncan Hines.

Once all of the margarine was added, I removed the whisk attachment and switched to the paddle. I increased the speed to high and beat the mixture until the buttercream was supposed to come together, around 5 minutes. Needless to say, my mixture did not become a thick buttercream!

By the time I was done messing up the lemon buttercream, the cakes were completely cool. Martha Stewart suggests trimming the tops of the cakes to make them level, but I skipped this step since my cakes were fairly even. You are welcome to trim the tops using a serrated knife, if you want! I placed four strips of parchment paper around the perimeter of a 10 inch cake circle, then placed the purple layer in the center. I spread 1 cup of frosting over the first layer with a spatula so it extended just beyond the edges of the cake.

 I repeated the process with the blue, green, yellow and orange layers.


I placed the remaining red layer on top, bottom-side up.

I swept away any loose crumbs then covered the top and side with a thin layer of frosting with a spatula, also using any of the excess frosting visible between the layers. I refrigerated the cake for 30 minutes, until it set.

After 30 minutes, I took the cake out of the fridge and covered it again with the remaining frosting. All done! Happy birthday to ME!


24 Responses to “Rainbow Layer Birthday Cake”

  1. Rena Berger May 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm #

    Happy Birthday!! and…YUM!!!!

  2. JamieAnne May 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    This is so impressive. I love it. What an awesome cake.

  3. Stefanie May 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    OMG that is awesome! Happy birthday!

  4. lisa pantazakos May 3, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Cake really looks beautiful- would you consider colored sprinkles on top-….maybe for my birthday 🙂

  5. Orah May 4, 2011 at 6:48 am #


  6. JamieAnne May 8, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    could you use regular milk instead of soy?

  7. Cake junky May 15, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    Can i make this in a 9×13 cake pan? If so, do you think I would need to double the cake recipe if i wanted to make 6 layers? Or would it evenly divide? Thanks!

    • kitchen tested May 15, 2011 at 12:17 am #

      I think you’re best bet is to double the recipes if you want all 6 layers. In a 9-inch round pan, 1 cup of batter spreads very thin so it would be too thin in a 9×13 pan. I guess you would want to put 2 cups in each pan then. You will also want to double the amount of dye so you get a vibrant color and you will, of course, need more frosting. Let me know how it goes! Hopefully the cake isn’t too thick, although I can’t imagine anything wrong with that situation 🙂 You can upload a picture to my Facebook fan page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kitchen-Tested-Fan-Page/146456585412894

      • Cake junky May 15, 2011 at 9:33 am #

        i was thinking of doing it in a 9×13 rectangular pan..do you know how many servings you got from the round cake? I am making my sons birthday party and expecting quite a few people…
        I will most deffinetly post pictures though!

      • kitchen tested May 15, 2011 at 9:40 am #

        I’m not sure how many people the cake feeds, but it is very tall so you don’t have to cut big slices to get a lot of cake. The 9-inch round cake can serve at least 12 people, depending on how big you cut the pieces.

  8. LindasKitchenFaucet May 24, 2011 at 2:28 am #


    The idea of making rainbow cake is outstanding and it’s really yummy too! There is no doubt about it. But is it really safe using those dyes to color the cake? Is there any alternate method to color cake?

    Linda Allen B
    Kitchen Faucet Reviews

    • kitchen tested May 24, 2011 at 8:44 am #

      I’m sure you can use natural food coloring, although I’m not sure if it will change the texture or flavor of the cake. Here is an example of a dye you can use: http://www.wildflavors.com/. To be honest, you don’t really use so much dye in the cake though and it is a huge cake! It’s only 1/8 tsp per layer of the gel dye.

  9. Cake junky June 1, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    Thank you so much for this blog! I made this cake for my sons 1st birthday. I tripled the recipe. and made 6 layers in a 9×13 cake pan(each layer using 3 cups of batter). It was phenomenal.
    Thank you so much again!

    • kitchen tested June 1, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

      I am so happy to hear that it worked out! Wow, tripled the recipe! That’s a lot of cake. Do you have any pictures? I would love to see and post the final results.

  10. bonnie July 29, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    i love the cake. i am sitting here at 10:57 pm 1hr till my 26 bday, i started at 1pm today making my birthday cake. well 7hrs into it I decided to give up. As i was searching bing for ideas to start over before my birthday dinner in about 15 hrs i came across this. i love all kinds of colors and then i read ur story and i knew this was the one. if it worked for u on ur birthday i know it will work for me so wish me luck.

    • kitchen tested July 29, 2011 at 10:53 am #

      Happy birthday Bonnie! How did the cake go??? I am actually going to make the cake again for my daughter’s first birthday, but maybe just in purple and pink.


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