Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What to eat Wednesdays - Rainbow star birthday cake

Just in case you were under the impression I feed Lily a 100% whole foods, natural diet, check out some photos from her recent 2nd birthday party.

Yup, that is a cupcake with blue frosting Lily's eating.
Party food! Grapes, sushi, chips, vegetable and cracker platter with dips, chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes, fruit kebabs.
The birthday cake
A couple of weeks before Lily's party, I asked her to look through my Australian Women's Weekly cake decorating books and pick the birthday cake she wanted.

This was a long and fun process where she tagged many cakes with a post-it, before I got her to narrow it down by telling me, "This one or that one?" and taking the post-it note off the loser.

Eventually we had removed all the post-its except one:

Interesting choice.

Since we don't have sheriffs in New Zealand, I figured Lily wasn't after a sheriff's badge, but rather a star cake in the vein of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

Well, that got my imaginative juices flowing... and they were all headed in one direction. Bright and colourful!

Here's what Paul and I came up with for Lily's 2nd birthday party... a star-shaped cake with a rainbow centre:
Lily's star birthday cake, with a surprise rainbow centre

There's no way to get those bright colours without food colouring, but we figured her party only happens once a year - we may as well have fun with it and do things we wouldn't usually do.

I made the cake batter, which was a madeira cake from the Edmond's Cookery Book. After baking it, we realised one wasn't going to be big enough, so I quickly whipped up another one and we layered it on top of the first with icing smooshed between.

To get that awesome rainbow effect, Paul divided the batter into six different bowls and coloured it red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. We couldn't find coloured gel crystals, which most cake decorators recommend, so used regular Hansells food colouring. It worked better than we thought it would.

Rainbow madeira cake ingredients
  • 350g butter, softened
  • 1 1/2c sugar
  • 1/2t grated lemon rind
  • 6 eggs
  • 3c plain all-purpose flour
  • 2t baking powder
  • Red, yellow and blue food colouring or gel crystals
(Note: I've doubled the recipe from the version we made, so you should only need to bake one cake instead of two.)

1. Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 30cm cake tin with baking paper.

2. Cream butter and sugar until light, fluffy and white. Stir in lemon rind.

3. In a separate bowl beat eggs for a couple of minutes with a clean beater mix.

4. Sift flour and baking powder together. Add to creamed mixture alternately with the eggs and stir to mix.

5. Divide mixture into six bowls, with slightly more in one of the bowls.

6. To the biggest portion of mixture, slowly stir in red food colouring until a bright red hue is achieved.

7. To the second portion of mixture, stir in red and yellow food colouring until a bright orange hue is achieved.

8. To the third portion of mixture, stir in yellow food colouring until a bright yellow hue is achieved.

9. To the fourth portion of mixture, stir in yellow and blue food colouring until a bright green hue is achieved.

10. To the fifth portion of mixture, stir in blue food colouring until a bright blue hue is achieved.

11. To the sixth portion of mixture, stir in red and blue food colouring until a bright purple hue is achieved.

12. Spread the red mixture out in the lined cake tin.

13. Dollop the other colour mixtures on top of each other in the cake tin in a rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.

14. Shake cake tin from side to side until all the colours spread out to the edge.

15. Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched. Leave in tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

16. Draw or print a star the size you want on paper, cut it out and use it as a template to cut the cake into a star shape.

17. Ice with a Swiss meringue butter-cream, as detailed at Whisk Kid, to which you've stirred in a little yellow food colouring.

Just for kicks, we sprinkled some orange sherbet onto the icing as well. It was a fun cake!

Side note: One of Lily's favourite past-times now is looking through my cake decorating books and telling me which cake she's going to have next year. Many, many times a day she tells me she's going to have this lolly cake for her birthday:

She also pretends to pick the lollies off the cake and eat them. Love her.


  1. cool cake and love to see your hubby helping!

  2. Sweet Lily! Well done Emma and Paul, you guys did a fabulous job! I like birthday cake deciding time too!

  3. That is quite possibly the most awesome birthday cake I have ever seen! So cool!

  4. Thanks guys. We had so much fun with it!

    One of my readers has emailed me to say some supermarkets now stock natural food colouring, so I'll look into that for next year.


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