How to make THE rainbow cake


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The rainbow cake.  It’s kind of a rite of passage for parents.  I mentioned to some acquaintances that Peanut was having a rainbow party.

‘Are you doing THE cake?’ they asked.

Ummmm. I wasn’t ready to make that decision just yet.

I almost didn’t do it.  I almost stuck with the cupcakes, and considered banging together an old-school marble cake.  I’ve pulled too many all-nighters decorating birthday cakes, and I thought this one was going to trump them all.

I almost didn’t do it because I was scared it wouldn’t be perfect.

But I was pleasantly surprised.  After finally committing myself to the task I started making it at about 8pm on the night before the party.  Typical.  But I had all the cakes made by 11pm ready to assemble the next morning.

I used this recipe; the one that was featured on Martha Stewart and started the whole rainbow cake fad.  I wasn’t going to use it because of all of those egg whites but I’m glad I did – the layers turned out lovely and flat and even.

rainbow cake rainbow layer cake martha stewart

My best tips for this cake:

  • It is absolutely essential to use gel colouring.  I used Wilton brand and did some creative mixing to get all the colours.
  • Weigh the mixture in six identical bowls to make sure each layer is the same size.
  • Each layer is thin!  Like, the mixture barely covers the bottom of the pan.  But it all evens out in the end, and seriously, you have six layers – they have to be thin.
  • I used a silicone cake pan for these which worked wonderfully – removing the thin cake from a solid pan might be tricky.
  • After each layer is cooked (which doesn’t take long, thank goodness, as I only had one 9″ pan) allow it to cool, wrap it in plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer.  The cake is a lot easier to assemble if the layers are firm and frozen.

I used the recommended icing recipe and I’m so glad I did.  It is so white and so easy to work with.  My new favourite icing, for sure!  Again with the egg whites, though.  You might want to buy some chickens.

My tips for the icing:

  • This icing goes through some scary stages as you whip it.  Just stick with it – it takes a long time to reach the right consistency.  For a while it will look like it has curdled, but it gets past that, and then you need to keep going further until it gets beautifully fluffy.
  • Don’t be tempted to try to make both lots of icing (the filling and the topping) in one batch.  In fact, I doubt you’d fit it in the mixer bowl…
  • Again, measure your icing as you fill the cake – about a cup for each layer.  This way it will look much more even.
  • Extend the icing right to the edges of the layers, and even a little bit over, to avoid edge-droop.
  • Do crumb coat the cake i.e. once all the layers are assembled, cover the whole cake with a thin layer of icing and then refrigerate until firm.
  • The cake cuts much nicer if it has been refrigerated once finished.  My cake was a little warm when we cut it and the layers were more crumby than when it was cool.

Considering how much visual impact this cake has, it is comparatively simple to make.  Time consuming, but not difficult.  If you’re considering it for a child’s birthday party I would  absolutely encourage you to go for it (or your own – I’m kind of bummed I used it for Peanut’s cake.  I think I’d quite like it for my own birthday.)

Have you made THE rainbow cake?  Would you like to?  Does it scare you?

Quick chicken curry

Winter hit us here in Victoria today.  Last week we were enjoying balmy mid-twenty degree days and mild nights and then BAM!  Today it rained all day and reached an icy top of about thirteen degrees.  Perfect weather for a curry.

It was also one of those days when our routine would be a bit messy; Diesel had a party after school until dinner time, so I wanted to be able to make dinner early in the day so I could quickly reheat it later on.  This worked out beautifully, and I’m sure that if you have a slow cooker, it would work equally well.

Quick chicken curry

(based on this recipe at Taste.com.au)

2 tbs vegetable oil
500g skinless chicken breast fillets, chopped into bitesize pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped (this didn’t make it too hot for the kids)
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2-3 tbs mild curry paste (such as tikka masala)
400g can chopped tomatoes
400ml coconut milk
2 tbs crunchy peanut butter
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1cm squares

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Heat the oil in an over-proof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until chicken starts to brown. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, for a further 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomatoes and cook briefly, stirring. Season, then stir in coconut milk and peanut butter until combined. Add sweet potato and stir to combine. Cover and bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

Serve with basmati rice.

This got the thumbs up from the whole family.  Next time I might try it with pumpkin and baby spinach.  Or peas.  Yum!

The third child

When you are considering adding a third child to your family there’s a lot to think about. Will your car fit three bulky car seats across the back? And if so, can you do up the seatbelts without almost losing a hand?

How is the third child going to affect your family dynamics? Is the age gap too big or too small? Will your now-youngest child become the forgotten middle child? Will the eldest try to hurt the baby?

Can you afford three kids? Three mouths to feed, three lots of school fees, three swimming lessons a week, three lots of sports fees and music lessons? Three times the shoes?!

We probably did think about most of those things. And even when the answer was no, we figured the pros out-weighed the cons. The thing we may not have considered was how a third child was going to influence our babysitting options.

Now, I can’t complain; I have wonderful parents and parents-in-law who both live nearby and have always been happy to babysit when we need them. But the prospect of leaving three crazy boys with generous babysitters as opposed to two quite often fills me with guilt.

It was our ten year wedding anniversary on the weekend, and we got away for just over 24 hours. It wasn’t really enough, especially since it has been a year since we’ve had a night away. But it seemed such a big call to leave the three of them for any longer. In hindsight, I’m glad we didn’t; the youngest had a gum infection that made him grumpy, and the middlest ended up with a raging fever and vomitted all day.

It seemed so much easier to leave two. When I leave the three of them with anyone, I kind of feel like I’ve dropped a bomb on them and will be back later to clean up the damage. Three is a lot. Three is crazy. It’s fun and filled with lots of love and cuddles, but it truly is crazy.  It’s hard to relinquish the responsibility of that craziness and give it to someone else.

Do you have three? Do you have more? Do you have wonderful babysitters who don’t mind being lumped with all of your kids, or have you come to accept that you will have no social life for the next eighteen years?

Wordless Wednesday

We celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary this past weekend (yes, I KNOW.  I was a child bride, really ;)  In typical us style, the weekend revolved around food.  Dinner at Cumulus Inc, breakfast at Hardware Societe, and a little visit to La Belle Miette to grab some macarons on the way home.  Just delightful.

Linking up with My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday.