Rainbow Cake, First Try

6 Aug

(Apologies for the not so beautiful picture.  I guarantee you though—-the next attempt will be better.)

Aaron’s parents were coming to visit and I thought it would be the perfect time to try the Rainbow Cake.  Remember the Rainbow Cake?

They are from Hawaii (but live in Vermont) and love rainbows.  They have even named their “Hale Anuenue” , which means house of rainbows in Hawaiian.

Making this cake required getting new cake pans (Yay!), lots of time in the kitchen figuring out what to do with the frosting.   Buttercream? Swiss Buttercream? Cream cheese?  I just couldn’t make up my mind.

Instead of thinking about it for a couple of more months, I decided to just go for it.

And, I want you, dear loyal readers, to know that this is a cake in progress.  I intend to make a lot more rainbow cakes until I get it perfect and I thought I would take you along for the journey.

Wanna know what I did?  Here are the steps:

1) I started with the basic vanilla cake recipe that I used for my best ever vanilla cupcakes.  These are great cupcakes and I thought it would make a good base for the rainbow cake.  I doubled the recipe so that I would have enough to make four thin 9 inch layers.  If you haven’t made these cupcakes, you really should–they are a bit dense but very moist with a great vanilla flavor.

The recipe is here.

Once I had the batter mixed up, I split it into four bowls.  One for each color.  My kitchen was a mess at this point —with every counter top covered with batter, flour and food coloring.  I used the Wilton concentrated food gels to add the color to each portion of batter.  When you use this, you only want to use a very small dab of color at a time.  Problems:  I couldn’t get the colors as bright as I wanted to.  The red came out pink-ish and the purple was a lavender.  My cake looks very little like the picture.  Next time will be better……

It is hard to tell but the layers on the right are pink and orange.  I ruined the green layer as it was coming out of the pan……

Lay the baked layers on parchment or a cooling rack (another kitchen essential I don’t have) and let cool completely.

Frosting:

So, this is where I had the most dilemmas.  I knew that I wanted a white frosting but I didn’t really want the traditional buttercream frosting.  I looked around and decided to go with a mixed version—smitten kitchen’s Swiss Buttercream and Dorie Greenspan’s Buttercream (used in Baking to frost a party cake).

Just as Deb from Smitten Kitchen relates, this frosting is kind of  fickle….. Supposedly after intense mixing, the frosting will just magically come together.  I think I got impatient before that magic moment.  I’ll have to try it again.  I will say though, even though it was a bit runny when I frosted the cake, it looks so pretty after cooling and then thawing.  It kind of sparkles.  Very pretty.  And it tastes great.

Here is what I did:

1) Add 4 egg whites and 1 cup of sugar to a large bowl, placed above a pot of simmering water.  I used the bowl on my Kitchen Aid so I wouldn’t have to transfer bowls.  Using a whisk or a hand mixer, whisk together constantly until the mixture is warm.  (It seems as if this is making marshmallow creme…..and I wonder, maybe I could just use marshmallow creme instead of this step.  Has anyone ever tried it?)

2) Put your bowl on your stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment for a bit ( 5 minutes or so) to let it cool.  Add one stick of butter at a time and whip it good! (Speaking of “Whip It”, my mom just went to a Devo concert…..Isn’t that weird?)

3) According to Dorie, you should whip this for about ten minutes.  After ten minutes, my frosting didn’t seem very frosting-like.  It was a bit curdle-ly and runny.  But, I am not patient and I needed to get the cake frosted. Later, I realized that smitten kitchen had taken about 20 minutes before it was at the desired consistency.  So, I need to try it again.

Putting the cake together:

1) I wanted to alternate the colors but since the green was destroyed in the process, I knew it needed to go in the middle.  So, we sandwiched the green between the purple and pink.

2) I also used a fancy jar of blackberry preserves (from Denmark!) and stirred them with a spoon until they were easy to work with.

3) The layers went like this: Cake, Blackberry Preserves, Frosting, Cake Blackberry Preserves, Frosting, and so on.  You get the picture.

And because I am a dork, I decided to throw some blueberries on top…and in case you are wondering, they are supposed to be in the shape of a heart.

What was the verdict?

Well, you can’t go wrong with the vanilla cupcake recipe….it works just as well for thin layers as it does for cupcakes.  Next time, the colors will be brighter……The swiss buttercream was good too—and so pretty.  Next time, I am going to try to mix it up for a bit longer (unless my mixer konks out) and see if the magic happens.  Even if it doesn’t —it will still be good.  And finally, I may try raspberry preserves or just more of the blackberry.  That was my daughter’s favorite part and it added a nice contrast between the buttery frosting and the vanilla-y cake. (Oh, I also vow to take better photos….I don’t know what was wrong with me this time.)

So, stay tuned and send me any suggestions you might have.  I can always use them!

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2 Responses to “Rainbow Cake, First Try”

  1. Whatacake August 15, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Wow, whatacake! I wonder if it woukd have been better to use a hand mixer the othe type in order to incorporate more air into the frosting? I’m not a big cake maker so I don’t know. I just used a hand blender for the first time yesterday to make a shake. It seems to blend but doesn’t out so much air in as a hand mixer.

    • kgracie71 August 15, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

      I might try that next time…you know, part of my problem may have been that the whisk attachment for my Kitchen-Aid seems to be missing. I used the paddle attachment which doesn’t seem like the right tool for frosting.

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