Wednesday, January 16, 2013

rainbow butterfly birthday cake - how to

in case you're interested, here are some pics of how to make all those many layers & such, and some helpful tips to go along.

rainbow cake:

any cake recipe will do, but white works best to let the color shine through. pick your favorite, and double the batch.

for the layers, you must, must, must buy a set of these. they are some crazy cloth & metal band that wraps around the outside of your pan and works magic on your layers to keep them level. without them, your cake will be domed (& doomed).

a kitchen scale is most helpful in determining the batter into equal portions, but in its absence, divide your layers using a measuring cup. as a reference, this cake uses about 1.5 cups of batter for each of eight layers baked in an 8" pan.

once your layers are divided, color each using soft gel paste food coloring. this is the only way to get vibrant results. very little is needed, so start with just a couple drops. and don't attempt to mix colors--they just get muddy.

bake each layer at your recipe's recommended temperature until the top bounces when touched. my layers baked up in only 8 minutes, so be sure to watch your clock.

once cooled, flash freeze each layer (preferably on cake boards), then wrap in cellophane until you're ready to assemble. be sure to plan in advance and don't skip this freezing step. it is the key to successful cake decoration. cake layers (when well wrapped) can live in the freezer for up to a month without sacrificing flavor or texture. if you're planning on freezing for more than a day, brush each layer with a light simple syrup to keep the cake moist.


I prefer a basic american buttercream--butter, vanilla, confectioner's sugar. but feel free to use whatever favorite icing recipe you have on hand. you'll need quite a bit of icing to fill all those layers, so make sure to have plenty of ingredients on hand. for this cake, I multiplied my recipe by four.

to get started, lay out your bottom layer on your display stand, or you can always decorate on a cake board wrapped in foil. if you're working straight on the display, tuck strips of parchment paper below the cake on all sides to keep the plate clean.

spread icing between each layer, making sure the cake is level after each layer addition. once it's all stacked, apply a thin crumb coat to make sure your white icing isn't tainted by a confetti of rainbow crumbs. let the cake rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or so, until the crumb coat is set.

once set, apply a smooth even layer of white icing to the entire cake, and decorate as desired. I had loads of tinted white chocolate left over after making the butterflies, so I decided to create polka dots to adorn the cake sides. you can also use sprinkles, or just leave it a simple & lovely white (yielding even greater surprise when the layers are revealed).

good luck, and have fun!


kellyallison photography is a chicago area photo studio passionate about the visual documentation of love, life and all things beautiful.

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