Last weekend we were celebrating the birthday of one of the ladies of the Keston Kitchen. The party theme that Julia decided upon was 'the skys the limit' (themes and fancy dress are compulsory at all Keston parties). We were most impressed with the assortment of pilots, clouds, deities, birds and other creative costumes that turned up at our door. The birthday cake had to of course also fit the theme, it didn't take long before I decided a rainbow cake was called for, with a different colour for each layer of the cake. I consulted Abbie (office baking expert) and she advised using the trusty Madeira cake recipe which I had used for the Keston kitchen cake in November as it is nice and solid and easy to pile high.
I remembered that Philippa (friend from school) had put pictures on facebook of a rainbow cake she had made, she advised using food colouring paste rather than the normal liquid stuff which isn't as effective (i tried making a green velvet cake with normal food colouring once but it came out rather grey!). Apparently Hobby Craft stocks the pastes but I don't have one near me so I bought some online instead, you don't need to use much so they will last me for years.
Rainbow Madeira Cake
The following ingredients will make 2 layers of your cake (so you will need 3 times the ingredients if making 6 layers), my layers were quite big so if I made it again I might use less cake mixture.
175g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
175g caster sugar
3 medium eggs
225g self raising flour
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
Splash of milk
A little bit of food colouring paste (i reckon about 1/4 tsp per layer), the brand I used was Wilton and the colours I used for the 6 layers were red-red, golden yellow, leaf green, royal blue, violet and I made orange by adding both red and yellow.
Assuming you make two layers at a time, line two 7inch cake tins with baking parchment and pre-heat the oven to 170C.
Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest together with a fork making sure the ingredients are fully combined and the mixture has a paler appearance than when you started.
Whisk in the eggs. Fold in the flour a bit at a time. Then add milk a little at a time until your mixture has a soft drop consistency.
Put half the mixture in another bowl and then add a different colour paste to each bowl. The food colouring paste is gloopy in texture so I just added it a drop at a time until I decided the batter was a suitable shade.
Scrape the mixtures into separate cake tins (which you lined), make sure the mixture is level in the tins so it rises evenly and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. When cooked a skewer will come out clean, don't worry if you cakes look an odd colour as when cut open their true glory will be revealed!
Ju was busy in the kitchen in the lead up to the party and I didn't want her to cotton on to what I was making so I did some serious mid-night baking on the friday and hid the cake before going to bed. I then waited until the party was in full swing on saturday, banned the birthday girl from the kitchen and recruited Fern, Ceri and Tessa to help with the icing.
I used a thin layer of strawberry jam and whipped cream to glue the layers together and then we slapped on the blue cream cheese icing (cream cheese, butter and icing sugar). As I said it was quite late on in the party and I didn't measure the ingredients so the sky blue icing was somewhat runny but it did manage to hide the cakes beneath. I topped the cake with a yellow sun made from roll out icing and a few white clouds on the side which immediately started to slide downwards!
This cake was somewhat of an undertaking but definitely worth it just for the look on Julia's face when she sliced into the tower of cake having no idea what was inside. It also went down well with the rest of the party too!