I kept seeing rainbow cakes pinned on Pinterest – and while they were cute, I kept thinking it would be so much prettier to do a pastel version. Sure, if you’re making a kid’s birthday cake, vibrant colors are fun. But if it’s just a no-reason cake, for a summer evening, wouldn’t a pastel version be more appealing to most adults? Certainly more appetizing!
But there was a problem! All of the recipes I found started with plain white cake – which is sweet, but boring. No way am I going to spend time making a cake that doesn’t taste good…
My favorite cake of all is Lemon Jello Cake. It’s a cake my Grandma Spelts used to make for Easter, and whenever anyone offers to make me a birthday cake, it’s what I request. The recipe requires a yellow cake mix, a small package of Lemon Jello, and slightly more oil than you usually put in a cake. Mix it all together, bake, and when the cake is still hot, poke it all over with a fork, and then pour on a glaze of fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar. It’s moist and tart and sweet and just the best cake ever!
So why couldn’t I use other flavors of Jello to make a rainbow cake? So I tired it. My first attempt wasn’t quite right. I used too much Jello, and the colors were too vibrant, and that much Jello changed the consistency of the cake. I also decided that the super moist quality the extra oil gave it while perfect for a Lemon Jello Cake, wasn’t quite as appropriate for a rainbow cake! Next I tried making cupcakes – and while I got the balance of Jello and cake batter fixed, I decided that cupcakes are too small to really get the full effect of the rainbow. I wanted a full cake to cut into, to show off all the colors.
Today I made my third attempt, and this time I got the balance of ingredients right – I divided the cake batter into six sections, and put a half-a-teaspoon of each color of Jello crystals into each one. And if the color wasn’t quite deep enough? I used a drop of food coloring to get it just right. And I skipped the Blue Jello entirely, because I’m not a big fan of that flavor. And blue food coloring worked just fine!
It looks totally incognito before you cut into it. Just like any other loaf cake with cream cheese frosting.
But once you cut into it, you get all these pretty colors, swirling around.
I chose to be a little freeform with how I glopped the batter into the pan, because I wanted interesting swirls – but if you want a neater demarkation, just plop each new color in rounded spoonfuls, directly on top of the last color, and it will spread out on it’s own, into neat little stripes.
So despite all my troubles figuring out the best way to do it, in the end it was dead simple. Just a plain white cake mix, and follow the directions on the box – then divide into sections, and mix a half-teaspoon of a different colored Jello flavor into each one – and plop into the greased pan, one color at a time. Then bake normally! The frosting is equally easy. It’s an adaption of a Martha Stewart recipe. Just take one stick of butter, and one 16 oz bucket of cream cheese, one box of powdered sugar, half-a-teaspoon of vanilla, and a splash of milk – and mix together. Takes about one minute to make the frosting and four minutes to frost the cake. Couldn’t be easier, or in my opinion, prettier!