Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Natural Rainbow Cake

Okaaay! HELLO out there! So my last post was from over 2 years ago, and obviously the nature of this post has zilch to do with textiles or graphics in anyway. This is perhaps due to the fact that my life has very little to do with this subject at the moment, but I thought it was a creative endeavour nontheless so here it is for anyone interested!

Since the last post I had another baby (and they have published another Print & Pattern book so it has been a long time) I had a beautiful little girl named Teah. She recently turned one and I made her a very special cake.

So the rainbow journey began on a long sleepless night in July trawling facebook and pinterest for something interesting (don't tell the doctors, the computer screen is terrible to be staring at when you have sleep anxiety but I was so bored and the night seemed so long) and I happened upon this new rainbow cake fad and knew right away I had to make it for Teah's birthday! Only problem was it was tortured with artificial food colouring and for a one year old party that is a big no-no. So I researched many natural cakes, many, many, many. What I ended up with is a mix between good and bad. Good would have been making my own white cake from scratch as well as the natural dyes for the layers. Yet after 3 failed attempts I just could not make my white cake delicious or light and fluffy whatsoever. I read A LOT of recipes and tips and borrowed an amazing mixer and whipped and beat and creamed and blah blah and it just didn't work. So I forfeited and have used a (eeek!) packet mix. It worked. A dream. The end.

So I used two packs of Betty Crocker Vanilla Cake, and only fruit and vegies for colouring - I figure for a time poor mother not magnificently skilled in baking it would suffice. Now, from all my investigations and experiments I found that most of the colouring was best done with vegetables which didn't make for a very exciting tasting cake, so my twist on the concept was to pair each vegetable with a fruit puree to also give each layer a different flavour. The effect was fantastic and helped boost the colour a lot. So for all those who been asking for the you go :


For the Cake :

2 x Betty Crocker Super Moist Vanilla Cake mix
6 x 22cm round cake tins - I managed to get hold of 3 so baked in 2 rounds of 3

For the colours :

Red : 2  beetroot, 1/2 small punnet of strawberries
Orange :  3 carrots, orange zest

Yellow : 1 egg yolk, lemon zest
Green : 1 bunch English spinach, 1 kiwi fruit
Blue : 1/4 red cabbage, 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
Violet :3 purple carrots, 1/4 cup mulberries

Notes on the colours : 

You can leave out the egg yolk in the yellow layer, the batter itself makes a pale colour anyway. I added a a few drops of beetroot juice to the carrot juice to boost the orange effect as carrot juice on its own was quite weak. I was also VERY lucky purple carrots and mulberries were in season as they make an amazing violet together - if you're not so lucky you can just do a 5 layer cake. And the purple cabbage sounds weird but it it turns a magnificent blue when you juice it. Although you can do the vegetables on the their own and they will still colour the batter, I found doing the beetroot without the strawberries seemed to bake out the colour a bit, and also the fruits mask the unusual flavours - spinach! cabbage! weird flavours to eat in a cake but with the fruits you can't even tell.

Sugar syrup for between the layers :

1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sugar

Method :

The measurements for the amount of liquid/colouring you need will vary depending on the cake mix. The general idea is to make the cake according to instructions on the packet (or if you're skilled enough, according to your white cake recipe), and withhold some of the liquid. Divide the mix into batches then add the liquid component as colouring separately for each layer.

For my chosen cake mix, 250ml of water per packet was required, so I added a dash of water when making the mix just to help it mix up a little better (this was 10ml). I did the packs one at a time (it was simply too much mix for my bowl but I don't see why you couldn't make 2 packs at once if you have a large enough vessel). This left 240ml for 3 batches, making a nice neat 80ml of natural colouring required per layer.

1) Juice vegetables separately in juicer, set aside in jars and keep in the fridge.

2) Puree and zest fruits, set aside and store in fridge. 

3) Prepare tins according to cake mix instructions
4) Make batch 1 of cake mix.
5) Divide mix into 3 bowls, add 80ml mixture of vegetable dye and fruit puree. I must admit, I went overboard on some of mine as I wanted as intense colour result as possible so I did add more than 80ml for some of them. This didn't seem to affect the cake too much, just made those layers a little heavier.

Sorry forgot to photograph the blue mix
6) Bake 3 layers. While they are cooling on racks, prepare the next batch of cake mix and repeat step 4 and 5. Allow all layers to cool.
7) In a small saucepan mix the sugar and water. Bring to the boil then simmer for a few minutes. Brush the mix between the layers as you stack each layer on top of the other. Place the cake in the fridge to set the layers together. Many rainbow cakes use buttercream icing between the layers but I like the look of the layer hard up against one another, do as you please.

My all time best icing is White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting from this cake, the cake is also divine should be baked if you have the inclination! I used this for the outside of the cake and it complimented the fruity flavours of the layers really well.

Sorry this write-up is difficult to read, I am not a recipe writer or baker extraordinaire - I am a designer and we tend to not think in a straight line.


elly said...

And it was so yummy... :)

Anonymous said...

this is the most vibrantly colored natural rainbow cake I've ever seen on the internet! you really were successful!!!