Rainbow UN-birthday Cake

My heart skipped a beat when Heston Blumenthal, experimental chef extraordinaire, brought out a completely edible insect-filled garden and vibrating absinthe jelly at his Alice in Wonderland themed feast. My own Mad Hatter Tea Party had been planned for some time and now the bar had been raised and I had to do something special. My head was filled with images of psychedelic, towering, toppling cakes exploding with colour… but it had to be achievable. And it had to give up a special secret at the last minute.

So I made a cake, smothered it in pink icing and stuck cards all around the base. And I kept the surprise all to myself. So as the cake was brought out to me and people sang me a happy UN-birthday, I was sniggering inside knowing I had my Heston Blumenthal moment to come. With great mischievousness, I cut the tall cake open to reveal…

Rainbow Birthday Cake

Rainbow UN-birthday Cake | a zillion calories per serving | Serves 20-25

It was incredible to see the astounded faces of my guests. I can now completely understand the feeling Heston gets when he makes someone fill with childish smiles over the food they’re about to eat.

It was completely worth the effort, especially as it was straight-forward to make, and I recommend it to anyone. It was just a Victoria sponge, a WHOLE jar of jam to stick it all together and a slathering of butter icing to hold it all together and make ‘operation: wonderment’ complete.

Admittedly, there was some special food-paste dye (which can be bought online and is worth the investment as it is vivid and doesn’t alter the texture of the cake mixture) but there was a lot of washing up… Luckily my mock-turtle kitchen assistant took care of that 🙂

Ingredients – for the cake

For the cake

  • 450 g self raising flour
  • 450 g unsalted butter or margarine
  • 450 g caster sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • food dye

For the layering & icing

  • 1 jar of raspberry jam for sandwiching the layers together
  • 250 g unsalted butter
  • 500 g icing sugar
  • dash hot water
  • food dye

[Lots of people have asked me where to get the food dye from. I got mine from a local kitchen shop at a hefty £2.50 per tub, but you can get all the colours you need for a rainbow cake in this Set of 8 Wilton Food Colours.]

How to Make the Rainbow Cake

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft and white.
  2. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl.
  3. Alternate adding the beaten eggs and the flour in to the butter and sugar mixture.
  4. Mix until combined, but not totally smooth.
  5. Separate between six large bowls, add the relevant food dye and mix/beat until smooth (if you beat till smooth first and then added the food dye and beat again you’d probably get rid of all the air).
  6. Pour into sandwich tins (I think mine are 23cm).
  7. Cook the sponges, two at a time, in the middle of an oven preheated to 190 Celsius. Cook for 15-20 minutes, depending on the amount of mixture (you’re bound to have somehow misjudged the batter for one of the layers).

Leave the layers to go absolutely cool before sandwiching together with LOTS of jam. Don’t worry if it’s a big mess, it will be fine once covered in icing.

To make the icing, beat the butter and sugar together, adding a little water if needed and the food dye of whatever colour you like. Ice the cake from the bottom up using a knife. Don’t get too neat.

Decorate the outside however you like and then wait out the moment of the big reveal!

p.s. A special mention should be made of my mother who, though she can’t cook, is an outstanding seamstress (a skill that sadly eludes me) and made me a fantastic costume:


Also thanks to dad who scared the rain away by spending hours putting up tarpaulin, and a big hello to people visiting because I outed my blogging habit after a little too much sparkling wine (and absinthe?!) drunk from teacups!

12 responses to “Rainbow UN-birthday Cake

  1. Masquerade Minx July 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Great cake Alice, I don’t suppose you would send it first class would you? 🙂

  2. ooh la la September 8, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    oooooh, Mel sent me a recipe similar to this ages ago which I’m making for my partner’s birthday later this month!

    Nice to see the photo booth thing on here too. x

  3. missbliss July 15, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    http://www.lakeland.co.uk/icing-colours-set/F/keyword/Colour/product/11847 Hiya, that would be amazing! These aren’t the ones I used, but are apparently very similar. Let me know how you get on!

  4. Smile88 July 15, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    Please please please let me know where you got the food dye for this cake. My dad is getting civilly partnered in August and I can’t resist making it for him and stepdad to be!!

  5. Chef Fresco June 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I love this cake. It’s almost psychedelic.

  6. Chef Fresco June 21, 2009 at 1:36 am

    Just stumbled upon your blog- My sister and I totally made a cake like this a few yrs ago for a friend’s birthday! The different layers didn’t turn out quite as bright as yours though! I love fun cakes 🙂

  7. Segat1 June 19, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    I have been meaning to write to you about your awesome party – I am now totaly calling my daughter Alice so I can give her a birthday like this!! Happy Birthday!!

  8. missbliss June 15, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    KarynI was sort of hoping people would have forgotten, but I’ve been reminded of it by several people now. Rats!

    Your blog is very lovely, quite stunning aesthetically!

    Heavenly HousewifeIf I knew you were coming…

    HannahWell well well lady, it must have been some time since I stopped by your blog. If you can make babies, I think you deserve a rainbow cake!

    CatherineI hope your orders were accompanied with a stomp of the foot too :)!

  9. Catherine June 12, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    That’s the best cake I’ve ever seen! I’ve already put my orders in for this to be my birthday cake (even though it isn’t until the end of August and I won’t be having an Alice in Wonderland themed party!!)

  10. Hannah June 10, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    I love that cake! I wish I had an excuse to try making it myself! (I don’t think the husband would let me get away with blaming pregnancy cravings on that one!)

  11. Heavenly Housewife June 9, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    That is a truly fantastic cake!

  12. Karyn Bernard (French Charming) June 9, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    WOW! That cake is fantastic!! What a great party you must have had and your mother did a fantastic job on your costume.

    I had to laugh that you outed your blogging habit after a bit too much of the sparkling wine…It could have been worse I suppose…that stuff gives me a very loose tongue!

    I’m off now to peruse through the rest of your blog.

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