Rainbow Birthday Cake with Cream Cheese Icing


Firstly, I need to apologise for my very long disappearance. I’ve been home in England having the best time, eating myself silly and celebrating Andy’s brother’s wedding. I meant to post while I was away, but I got too tied up in cheese, autumn leaves, afternoon teas and catch ups.  I’ve got things from home lined up to tell you all about soon, but for now, I have a cake for you.


Not just any cake. This is a towering beauty of a cake. Seven rainbow coloured layers, stacked high on top of one another, smothered all over in cream cheese icing, and topped with sprinkles and smarties.


The cake was for one of my very good friends, Becca.  We celebrated Becca’s birthday on a Junk boat, a big wooden boat all set up for an all day party. We sailed out to Clear Water Bay, and anchored for a glorious afternoon of late autumn sunshine. While the braver of the group jumped off the top of the boat, the rest of us sunned ourselves on the front, sipping sea breeze cocktails and enjoying the quiet of a Hong Kong beach in November.


 The sharp eyed amongst you might recognise Becca from here. As a true lover of food, and a connoisseur of cake, this cake had to be something special. By now amongst my circle of friends I’m sure it’s fairly well known that if someone has a birthday, the rest of us will plan some sort of surprise cake, to be snuck into the restaurant or bar. The trouble is, when you’re getting onto a boat, there isn’t really much chance of sneaking a cake on board! Becca was bound to see the cake, despite my best efforts of hiding it under a scarf, so I wanted there to be another element of surprise waiting for her.


Just look at the birthday girls reaction when she cut into the cake and found the rainbow!


I think she was surprised!



BBC food suggests that you mix the cake bater in batches. This is probably a very good idea if you’ve got a warm kitchen, or a very small mixing bowl. I decided to mix it all in one go, but I didn’t quite appreciate just how much arm work goes into mixing something containing 11 eggs! Mixing it all together though does mean you can lay out all your colours in the batter stage and ensure you have a good balance for the perfect rainbow.

Rainbow Birthday Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

Serves approximately 18



(adapted from BBC Good Food)

for the cake

440g butter, plus extra for greasing

790g plain flour

525g caster sugar

11 medium eggs

175ml buttermilk

2 tsp baking powder

3 1/2tsp vanilla extract

food colourings, I used red, green, blue and yellow and used them to mix all the colours

for the cream cheese icing

4 x 250g packs of cream cheese

650g icing sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Before you begin, weigh your mixing bowl and make a note of the weight. You’ll need to know this later when you divide up your mixture.

Preheat your oven to 170C/350F.

Line two 20cm cake tins.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

In stages, mix in the flour, eggs and baking powder. Finally add the vanilla.

Weigh the entire bowl and mixture, and minus the weight of the mixing bowl. Divide the mixture into seven even amounts and colour the mixture pink, red, purple, green, blue, orange and yellow. The colours that you see in the bowl are pretty much the colours you’ll see in the finished cake.

Put the first two bowls of mixture into the tins and bake for a few minutes. Leave to cool in the tins for about 12 minutes, before turning out to cool on a wire rack.  Ask the layers are thin they can burn fast so keep a close eye on them. Wash and re-line your tins and bake two more colours. Continue until all the layers are baked.

Once all the layers are cool, make your cream cheese frosting.

In a bowl, with an electric mix if you have one (or a wooden spoon like me if you don’t!) beat the cream cheese until slightly softened and smooth.

Sift in the icing sugar and mix together. Add the vanilla extract. You may find you need a few drops of warm water as you go to help everything mix together. Don’t over beat your icing or it could separate.

Plop a small dollop onto a cake board or stand and start layering up your cake, spreading a thin layer of icing between each layer.

Start with red, then orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and finally pink. Cover the top and sides with the remaining icing. Top with sprinkles and smarties.

Happy Birthday Becca!



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  1. How fun is this cake?!

  2. Rosalyn Cranham says:

    Jennie, this cake is amazing. How did you get all seven layers so even and the colours so accuate to the colours of the rainbow?

  3. Wow, this cake is just stunning! So impressive.

  4. su calladine says:

    brilliant, I am going to bake this tomorrow for my little girl’s birthday 🙂

  5. Su Calladine says:
  6. Rosalyn says:

    Jennie I can see it. The cake looks lovely.


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