I know I say this all the time, but its been awhile since I have actively contributed anything to my blog and for that I apologize. Every day I would put “WRITE A BLOG POST” on my To Do List (yes, I have a daily to do list….and every other kind of list there is… >_<). And every day I would sadly copy-paste it to the next day; never having the motivation to actually write anything.
Long story short, I am sitting myself down (only minimally distracted by simultaneously watching Portlandia) and writing a whole slew of blog posts. So get ready to read! (Or just look at the pictures, I totally understand if you only want to look at the pictures 😉 )
Last week I was in Europe with my family. For the first several days we were in London because my dad had to work. One night, we arranged to have dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the Shard, which at 87 floors is the tallest building in the European Union. Of course, if you go up to the top just to take in the view, you have to pay an arm and a leg, so you may as well go eat a slightly expensive dinner and get the view for free! Another long story short, we were treated to an extravagant dinner by my dad’s work acquaintance, and to thank him I wanted to make a cake.
Of course, I am always hoping to exceed and push any previous boundaries I have reached while baking, and I also dislike re-making desserts (which I will need to work on if I ever seriously consider opening a pastry shop or writing a cookbook….). So I hit the internet in search of inspiration. The catch was, while I was making a cake as a thank you to give to an adult businessman, I was giving it to him/his family, and he has two young children. So I needed a recipe that was sophisticated and playful, tasteful and engaging. I wanted the whole family to be able to enjoy the cake.
I ended up basing my recipe after Curly Girl Kitchen’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow Cake , though I ended up changing a few things and the outward appearance became entirely my own design.
Speaking of the outer decoration of the cake. The possibilities were endless. The original recipe tinted the buttercream in pastel colors, so that the cake looked like a rainbow from the outside as much as it did from the inside. But it just wasn’t what I was looking for, so I asked the Google Gods for help until I found a few images to use as inspiration. What I ended up liking the most were white cakes with rainbow accents, and some sort of frosting or gum paste swirling design, so days before the cake making even began I started in on some gum paste roses.
I made a gum paste rose tutorial about two years ago, so I didn’t take the time to photograph the process all over again–so if you want to know how I did it please check out the link here.
I ended up making about 26 large roses and 16 tiny roses, along with some small green leaves. There was no magic number; I just wanted to have a few large roses of each color of the rainbow with some other roses to use as transition colors so that there wasn’t such a stark contrast. This was my 4th time making gum paste roses, and while the process has definitely gotten smoother, the large roses require a bead of gum paste covered in at least three layers of petals–with time to dry between each one. I didn’t time anything exactly, but I think put together it took me about 10 minutes to make each rose, and I think I spent anywhere from 6-8 hours working with gum paste the three days before I made the cake. For me, it was totally worth it, but just keep that in mind if you are interested in using this recipe and following my design. The one great thing about gum paste is that you probably won’t be eating it, so you can make your decorations as far in advance as you want. If I weren’t about to leave the country for a semi-indefinite period of time I think I would sit myself down for an entire day and make a bunch of roses in a bunch of colors just to have on hand!
After all the roses were made, I made the cake layers. I actually made two rainbow cakes–one to give as a gift and one to use for pictures on my blog/sharing with friends and family/tasting myself. The worst part about giving cake as a gift is that if you aren’t sharing it with the person you are giving it to, you will never know how it ends up tasting/looking on the inside unless you make extra. So I doubled the recipe and made two layers of every color.
Yes, you heard me correctly, I made 12 layers of cake. And I have one oven. And three 7-inch cake pans. So it took quite awhile to get everything baked up. Luckily I had planned ahead and baked everything the day before I wanted to assemble the cakes, and left the cakes resting in plastic wrap in my refrigerator overnight.
I made the frosting right before I was to use it, and I must say, I was apprehensive. The frosting called for shortening, and I don’t know why but using shortening while cooking has always seemed a little off-putting to me, so I was ready to scratch the frosting at a moments notice and switch to another tried-and-true buttercream instead. Surprisingly, the frosting is absolutely divine, and I am definitely going to use it again. It not only tastes amazing but it holds up really well with a stacked cake.
After getting everything ready–literally for days–it was the moment of truth.
What if it looks absolutely dreadful? What if I spent a week working on this and it tastes terrible and looks like it was put together by a four-year-old?
I kid you not, these thoughts ran through my mind as I started stacking up the vivid layers of cake, cringing inwardly as I sunk the first rose into the top of the pristine surface of the cake.
Alas (though I know you are all sitting on the edges of your seats in fear, racked with anxiety) everything turned out beautifully. I am so happy that I followed my instincts and trusted that I could come up with an adequate design even though it was more of a semi-formed thought and not an actual plan.
I really enjoyed taking pictures of this cake, so I am going to post a bunch, though sometimes the lighting is weird because it was a super cloudy day (though of course it got sunny as soon as I put my camera away T_T ).
Coconut Rainbow Cake
from Curly Girl Kitchen (see link above)
2 1/4 cup sugar
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/3 cup coconut milk (a little less than a 14 oz can)
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease three 7-inch circular pans.
2) Beat cream cheese, sugar and butter for about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl as needed. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add in the vanilla and coconut extracts.
3) Combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture and coconut milk to the butter mixture alternately until everything is combined.
4) Divide the batter equally into 6 bowls, and color each bowl with a separate color. I use Wilton gel food coloring, so I used a chopstick to swirl a bit of the gel color into the batter, adding more as needed.
5) Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before turning out and cooling completely on a wire rack. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until ready to use.
2 cups butter, room temperature
1 cup shortening
6 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract/paste
2-3 tablespoons of milk, as needed
1) Beat the butter and shortening until just combined.
2) Add the powdered sugar in one cup at a time, beating on low to combine. Add in the meringue powder.
3) Add in the vanilla and milk (as needed), then increase the speed of the mixer to medium-high and beat for about 5 minutes. Set aside until ready to use (but make sure to use within a few hours).
Place the purple cake on a cake board and cover with frosting. Continue stacking the cake in order of the colors of the rainbow, working your way up to red.
Frost the cake in a thin crumb coat, then place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes. Take out the cake and frost the cake thoroughly. At this point you can decorate the cake as desired. Have fun 🙂
Thanks for reading and check back soon for more recipes and adventures!