It was my boyfriend’s birthday yesterday. And Valentines Day. On the same day. I know, talk about pressure! Especially after last year, well, let’s just say, last year wasn’t so good. So I was determined to make up for it now.
I did not know what to get him. At all. Christmas was a mere two months ago and that was hard enough! I’d had a few, fleeting ideas. But they were all too impractical or too practical or too expensive or too cheap or too bad or too good. Ugh. I always thought I was good at presents.
Maybe I’m just good at cake…
A few weeks ago I, unable to contain my excitement, propositioned him, ‘Olly can I please be in charge of your birthday cake, pleasepleasepleaseplease?’
‘Of course,’ he said. ‘But I’m not really a cake person.’
Who, in their right mind, doesn’t like cake? (I also know this to not be true, I’ve seen that boy tuck into a big ol’ slice of chocolate fudge cake many times.)
But I decided that I should try and make a cake that was less about being a cake, less about tastiness and more about prettiness. Then it hit me- RAINBOW CAKE.
I’d seen many rainbow cakes, I’d heard stories of rainbow cakes, but I was yet to make one. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.
The baking and making was actually surprisingly easy. I used the Hummingbird Bakery’s recipe for vanillacake and a simple buttercream icing. The hardest part was making sure the layers were even (I must admit, I did not do this accurately at all, but simply eyed it up and hoped for the best!) Also, it was hard to tell how the colours would turn out. When they came out of the oven, each layer had a golden brown top, so it was impossible to know if the food colouring had had any effect at all. I got very lucky- it was more vivid and bright than I had imagined it could ever be! Annoying, I didn’t have more than one cake tin the same size, so I had to cook them one at a time. I was baking for about seven hours, but hey, what can ya do?
It was delicious. Six layers of rich, moist, yummy cake and six layers of sweet, sugary, buttery icing- what’s not to love?! (Actually, what’s not to love is how sick you feel upon trying to devour a whole slice at once- a test that very few actually managed to achieve.)
And I think it was a success. ‘I love cake,’ said Olly this morning. ‘I used to think I didn’t but I do now.’
Rainbow Cake (adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery )
16 ounces plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
3 egg yolks
21 ounces sugar
1 1/2 cups canola or corn oil
1 1/2 cups sour cream
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a seperate bowl beat eggs, egg yolks and sugar until it has thickened and lightened to a creamy colour. Mix in the oil and vanilla. Stir in the sour cream until no streaks remain. Stir in the flour mixture until it is incorporated and smooth.
Once the batter is made, divide it into six bowls. Try to do this as evenly as possible (you might want to weigh it)- I started trying to measure in spoonfuls, but got sick of that pretty quickly and decided to just judge it by eye, which, amazingly, turned out fine.
Then add food colouring. I used A LOT. I know its bad you for. But please, no one is making and eating a six layer cake for the nutrition benefits.
Bake in a 180 degree oven for about half an hour- but keep an eye on them! Cooking times will vary depending on how deep they are and the size of the tin etc etc.
Once all the layers are cool, it is ready to assemble! To make the buttercream I used, simply combine butter and icing sugar until it is smooth and creamy. I then added an egg white, just to help with the consistency. Simply stack the layers up as you would any cake, making sure to apply plenty of icing in between each layer. (I have to admit, my cake leant slightly to one side.)