It’s Okay Because of All the Pretty Colors

First: The wonderful, gracious, generous Molly, from Life With the Campbells, shared the story of her husband’s stroke on Project:Purse and Boots. It is an amazing story, and made me cry more than once. Please make sure you go there for her incredible words. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you again at the end too.

And now for something completely different.

I have, oh once or twice in my life, had the experience of saying to myself, “Oh, I’d like to try that!” before doing any…well…research or planning. Or, I dunno, thinking of any kind.

Yes, I’ve done that a time or two.

A few months ago on the Martha Stewart show I watched the making of a rainbow cake. It was a recipe by Kaitlin Flannery at The Whisk Kid. It. Was. Stunning. And rainbows! Who doesn’t love rainbows?

Gigi over at Kludgy Mom made it, and hers turned out great. I had seen a few other bloggers showcase their effervescent, multi-hued efforts.

So why not me, damnit? The girl is turning sixteen this year, she likes rainbows. Why the hell not?

Things might have gone a little differently if I had read the recipe for the cake before committing myself.

Step One, it says: Call your local cardiologist.

Step Two, it says: Refill your prescription for Lipitor. If you don’t have one, get one.

Step Three, it says: Complete a notarized durable power of attorney for health care.

It turns out that the recipe requires 7, that is SEVEN, sticks of butter and 19, NINETEEN, eggs.

Ok, ok….egg whites, but still.

As the birthday girl and I stood staring in shock and awe at the seemingly unending vista of lethal ingredients laid out on the counter before us, she said, “It’s okay…the rainbow colors will protect us from this evil monster mountain of food.”

I was very particular about getting the proper food coloring gels, as all regular food coloring will do is give  you one hot mess of pastel-colored, wannabe rainbow-like cake.

This is a six layer cake. I know, I know…I said seven earlier. I’m a big fat liar. And dorky. Had I put any thought into at all I would have realized that a rainbow cake would likely not feel compelled to make the optical distinction between indigo and violet. Six layers.

I do not have six 9 inch cake pans, and I will damned well kick the shins of anyone who does who is not paid to cook. That is wrong, people. Wrong.

So I had to cook in batches. I also had to do math. There was the kitchen scale, weighing the bowl before the batter went into it, weighing again, subtracting the weight of the bowl, dividing by six, adding the year I was born, subtracting my resting heart rate… But I figured it out. And made six, brightly-colored layers of cake.


Instructions for the cake directed you to cut the domes off. These cakes were domeless. Which certainly made my life a bit easier, but made me question the quality of my baking powder.

Next, the butter cream frosting.

Nineteen eggs. Nineteen separated eggs. Five separated eggs ended up in the cakes, which left fourteen separated eggs for the buttercream.

You know that trick where you separate the eggs one at a time over a little dish so if you screw up you can dump out one egg and not contaminate a whole batch? Yeah. I so did that this time. I never do. I’m lazy. But I had visions of myself breaking a yolk in on my second to last egg and then committing hari kari in my kitchen with a dull spoon.

I’ve never made buttercream frosting before. I’m not sure I’ve ever made frosting before. While I turn up my nose at some storebought products, baking mixes have never been one of them. Go Betty! Go pudgy dough-man! I will happily buy chocolate frosting in a can.

But for this cake, well, it seemed ridiculous to go as far as making six layers of outrageous rainbow goodness to then top with canned frosting.

Had I known beforehand about the 14 separated eggs, a different road might have been taken.


Also, I have developed a deep and hugely inappropriate love for my stand-mixer. You know, the one that lives in the living room on the bookshelf? The bright apple-green one? Our relationship has moved to a whole new level and I’m thinking about ordering some new attachments. I think this baby could do beautiful things for me.

I even frosted a crumb layer. I mean really. Does it get any crazier than that?

So are you ready? You want to see it?


So whatya think?

How ’bout a closer look.

And one more of the whole herd.


It went over pretty well.

Once the baking was over, and the cake was frosted and resting safely in the fridge, I collapsed on the bed to rest for a few minutes before the next wave of party prep. That’s when Child B stuck his head in the bedroom and said the words every parent dreams of hearing from their eighteen-year-old son: “Hey, can I borrow a bra?”

Himself and I were so proud.

So for making this six-layer, cholesterol-madness, beauty of a cake, I award myself +25 Martha Points.

Which brings my new total to: +29 Martha Points.

Thank heavens. I was almost in negative numbers.

And don’t forget to go to Project: Purse and Boots to read Molly’s incredible story. You will be glad that you did.


Filed under Domestic Goddesshood

88 Responses to It’s Okay Because of All the Pretty Colors

  1. It looks fantastic!! My love for my stand mixer is slightly inappropriate too. I miss it terribly when I’m away.

    • Himself is a little anxious about my new feelings for the stand mixer. But…there are just things it can do for me that he can’t. He’ll just need to accept that.

  2. So cool! One of my favorite desserts is rainbow cookies from an Italian bakery. (Those are all pastely-like though, and don’t look nearly as cool as this vibrant cake!)

    • Oooh…those little things are so nummy!

      And no, I don’t think they use the same crazy food gel dye that I did for the cake.

      Child C was a little apprehensive about it for a bit…she kept looking at the vibrant colors asking, “Are you SURE it’s okay to eat that?”

  3. KLZ

    Damn! I knew I was missing a layer of protection on Friday the 13th – it was the rainbow color protection I was missing!

    Great looking cake though. Can you make one for me now?

  4. Damn it. I have to make this now. I blame you.

  5. It turned out fab!!! Kudos to you for doing that complicated frosting. I wasn’t signing up for that one with my cake!

    I hope she loved it, and that the party was a smashing success!

  6. 1. that cake looks super yummy & extra pretty.
    2. that cake sounds like it was a HUGE pain in the tuckus.

    • Most of it was fun, and the stand mixer saved my sanity.

      But apparently there are SLIGHTLY easier frostings that I may use if I do it again.

  7. Amy

    First of all, the cake looks fabulous! I admire you for taking it on…I wouldn’t even bother, to tell you the truth!

    And for WOW…I saw effervescent and hot mess.

  8. thenextmartha

    Wow. Great job. I’m giving you an extra 5 points because I’m that impressed.

  9. I admit that when I saw your dome-less cakes, I wasn’t holding out hope for this to work. But whoopity-whoopity-woo, you pulled it off and that cake is a beauty!

  10. Oh. My. Gosh. Really impressive! And no wonder I love buttercream frosting. 🙂

  11. OMG! That is gorgeous!.

    What did you do with 19 egg yolks?

  12. Can I book you now for Katie’s birthday? Because that cake? Is fabulous!

    • It turned out really well.

      And truly, except for the frosting, which wee Katie would not feel slighted for NOT getting the extreme butter edition anyway, it wasn’t that bad!

      You DO need the gel colors though, and unless you have six cake pans (and you damned well better not, girl!) it helps to have a kitchen scale.

      She’d so love it!

  13. Well, crap. I was so proud of myself for making my own olive salad for sandwiches this weekend and was going to award myself +5 points but now, after seeing that frickin’ cake, I’m going to have to hand them over to you. I would NEVER, and I mean NEVER attempt to make that cake. I salute you. And now I’m hungry for cake. Thanks a lot.

  14. Oh my god, that’s a gorgeous cake! Love it. Well done, I can’t cook to save my life so I’m very impressed and now, I’m craving cake 🙂

  15. That cake is really amazing. Well done. However, I’m feeling a little in the lurch, because it sounds like there’s an untold story with the “Mom, can I borrow a bra” statement. Is there a follow-up story coming?

    • Okay, I was waiting for SOMEONE to catch that part! 😉

      The party was Princess Bride themed. And our oldest son, for reasons that we do not understand, ended up in the role of Buttercup.

  16. ONLY 25?

    Man this cake ended up looking incredible.

  17. Thank you my friend, for posting this! Because now I’m re-thinking doing the cake for the girls’ bday party…that sounds like waaaayyy too much time and work what with all the cleaning I have to do 😉

    • Were you going to do the rainbow cake? The cakes take baking time but aren’t TOO bad. And you could cheat with the frosting! I mean, the buttercream was crazy yummy but if you needed to save time you could. And I wouldn’t tell ANYONE.

  18. What an awesome cake! I hope your daughter realizes just how much you love her. :p

    • I think she does!

      I did sort of foist the cake upon her though. I kinda wanted a reason to make it.

      Because I did NOT read the directions first.

      Cause I am sometimes just not very smart.

  19. Your cake turned out REALLY REALLY well! I know it’s a pain in the butt (more than any cake should be), but it’s all for fun, right? And as long as you eat just a small piece and run on the treadmill for 8 hours afterward, it’s like it never happened! 😛

    I’m SO happy you got the buttercream to work. I got worried when I first started reading because a lot of people have been having tons and tons of trouble with it (so many that I am planning on doing a step-by-step post soon). I thought you might have run into the same thing, but it looks gorgeous!

    And about the domes – mine were totally flat, too. I just had so many people asking about it in the comments that I decided to add it into the directions. My guess is that your baking powder is fine 🙂

    Thanks for giving the recipe a try, and thanks for telling me you did it, too!

    • That is so lovely that you left a comment, thank you!

      But about the buttercream:

      The thing that saved me was going back to watch the MS segment again. Because you say at one point, “It’s going to look like it’s curdled, but just keep beating.”

      So as I stared into the mixer looking at what did NOT look like buttercream frosting, and in fact looked like it was separating a bit, and just kept beating (I was past the cooling and butter-adding stage and had the paddle on the mixer). I said, “Kaitlin said this would happen! She said to forge ahead! I will keep going!”

      And then somehow between one minute and the next…separated liquidy stuff turned into buttercream frosting.

      Like magic!

      And people are hugely wow-ed over the cake. And for all the work, it was a lot of fun!

      And my daughter loved it.

  20. liz

    you did so great! i like seeing all the pieces cut and laying out – so fun punches of color!

    i do know a trick to avoid doming, BTW. just in case you are dying to bake a cake any time soon.

    and, as always, i love lori math.

  21. Joy in NH

    That. Is. Amazing. So beautiful that I kept looking at the pictures. Then my 6yo daughter saw it.

    “WOW! Mommy, can WE make that???”

    “No way.”

    Forget about Martha points – I need a way to earn back the Mommy points I just lost.

  22. That is just beautiful, but please please please don’t let my daughter see it…there’s not way I’m making that for her 7th birthday. You definitely deserve more Martha points;-).

    • I promise to not send your daughter secret emails that say, “If Mommy really loved you, she’d do THIS for your birthday!”

      Because I am not a mean evil blogger.

      I’ve never met a mean, evil blogger, but I bet they’re out there.

  23. Beautiful, but dang you…baby e was on my lap when I hopped over here AND HE SAW THIS.

    Crap. Guess what he wants for his birthday?

  24. Awesome !!! Those were my daughter’s words when she saw the cake. And of course she wants one like that when she turns 16. No way!!! (Since I expect you to still live here by that time, what about if you… no? You said no?)
    I hope that child C knows how much you love her!

    • I believe she does in fact know.

      And, she helped….it’s really not as bad as it sounds if you have help.

      Although 6 nine inch baking dishes would also really help.

      I bet you have two, I have two…who else around could share?

  25. damnit. now i totally want to try this.

    • If you were closer I’d loan you my gel food coloring so you could try it.

      The secret’s in the food coloring.

      But it comes out so pretty!

  26. That cake looks so good. Seriously, I am drooling. And it was not at all a HOT MESS (if you know what I mean :)).

  27. Wow. That cake looks awesome, BUT I had no idea it was that much work! How many sticks of butter? How many eggs? Holy crap.

  28. My daughter’s birthday is next week and I have a whole fridge full of eggs. Could I pull it off? I’m afraid I’ll end up stained those rainbow colors. I might have to take my purse to an alternative lifestyle establishment.

    • My kids were happy to think that part of the cake was an anti-Prop 8 celebration.

      And I only had two out of six colors on my fingers. (Green, sadly, was one of them. That’s just weird.)

  29. I was salivating, and laughing. Not a good mix. I hate having to wipe off my keyboard. You rock Rainbow Cake Martha Mom!

  30. WOW. That is all I have to say. I was planning to post pics of the Sesame Street party I had for my three year old a couple of weeks ago, but I feel so inadequate now. At least I have another 13 years to strive for rainbow cake perfection. And complete enough calisthenics to protect my heart against the horrific contents. 🙂

  31. Oh Lori. I’m so glad you document these things so I can laugh. It wasn’t much of a Hot Mess because it turned out beautifully! But it does seem like it should be renamed the “Heart attack” cake! Holy eggs batman!

  32. That cake looks beautifula dn delicious.

    Lori-gebra being used in baking. That is my kind of math (as long as I am the one eating the baking, and not the one actually baking…..because I don’t own even ONE cake pan.)

    I LOVE that the birthday girl said, “It’s okay…the rainbow colors will protect us from this evil monster mountain of food.” >Awesome!

  33. That cake never ceases to amaze me! Not a fete I would attempt, but darn it — you are an amazing mom! I hope you patted yourself on the back when you finished!

  34. I cannot believe you even endeavored to dream of this rainbow bread, let alone MAKE it. Surely it was not soley to express your deepest love for your daughter but to provide us all with a much needed laugh and deeper respect for what the ‘Ace of Cakes’ must go through on a daily basis. What a hoot! Crazy week, but working on my Purse and Boots post…. 😉

    • Truth: I saw the cake and wanted an excuse to make it. I then foisted it on the girl. Not that she wasn’t a totally willing victim, but I did actually suggest it.

      And now I have six bottles of gel food coloring for god only knows what. What the heck else do you do with that stuff? Tie die?

  35. Just out of curiousity, did you even think of calling it ‘Purse and Booty?’ Because while I know that sounds really dirty, isn’t booty like loot? Or is it really so late that I’m just making crap up?

    • LOL…no, that one didn’t occur to me. I got the boots in my head when I was thinking about trying to dress to match the purse, and it just stuck.

      Although, “Broads and Bags for Brains” was a close second.

  36. How does this post annoy me? Let me count the ways…

    1. It was about rainbow cake. And still it was awesome.

    2. The author is a “breeder” (aka Mummy-type, aka Woman with working girl bits and kiddos and therefore someone who I am supposed to dislike, but CAN’T because she seems like a totally rockin b*tch).

    3. That was a loong second AKA.

    4. I would never EVER be able to make this cake. Not least because I use my oven for storage (and the melting of candle wax for, um…special occasions. Involving Spaniards.


    Loving the writing, loving your fiction (and your facts) and planning to stalk you, bloggy style from here on out.

    You’re welcome.

    – B x

    • Oooh…I LOVE when I inspire a good love-hate relationship.

      I’m all over complexities.

      And I’ve heard tales of those Spaniard rituals.

      Never actually been to one though…

  37. 1. That is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. I’m tempted to make it for my son, whose birthday is in two weeks.
    2. Damn you. I don’t want to make that cake. But it’s just so pretty! (Also, I need a way to outdo last year’s volcano cake, which overflowed with awesomeness. Actually, raspberry filling, but it was awesome.)
    3. I already own gel food coloring from my ill-fated cake decorating class.
    4. WOW…effervescent.

    • 5. WOW…hot mess. Forgot to check my notes! 😉

    • If you already own the gel you’re half way there.

      And really…I’m not sure why I made the crazy (but delicious) buttercream frosting except that it seemed whimpy to not go all the way with this cake.

      And my kids aren’t little, so I have no supervision obligations.

      If you need to, canned frosting.

      I’m sure Kaitlin will forgive you!

  38. beautiful! i’ll have to be careful. don’t want my kids seeing these pics. sounds like way too much work for me!

    • LOL..there were many comments about shooing kids away from the monitor.

      I did not think about the consequences of my actions fully.

      I am sometimes flaky like that.

  39. This cake looks awesome! Pretty colors! How long did it take to make with all of those layers?

  40. I don’t know how I missed this post, but holy crap.

    Just so you know, I WILL be attempting this at some point, but it will most likely turn out more like Poppy’s. Not nearly as flippin awesome as either of yours, but a cake fail it will be I’m sure of it.

    Did you save me some?!

    • Poppy’s was a damned awesome cake.

      And it actually didn’t keep as well as you’d think – at least to my taste, but then again, I have a bizarrely sensitive palate to “stale.”

      My family not so much. If the chips are not actually liquid, they’re all good.


  41. Pingback: Red Velvet Armadillo Bakeshop | Somewhere over the rainbow cake

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  43. CDG

    Sweet mother of ‘HOW DID I MISS THIS?!”
    I have a freaking culinary degree and I won’t put myself through that.

    Forget about my stand mixer, my love for you is getting inappropriate!

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