There is nothing in the world that means more to me than my two children.  Lil’ E turned three last Thursday and with a 4 month old in tow, I felt bad enough not throwing a birthday bash for him.  My parents held a BBQ for him (thank you Grandma & Grandpa!!) with close family members in attendance so the least I could do was to make him a personalised cake.

For his first birthday, I made him an extremely dodgy ‘Hoot’ cake from the ABC4Kids Giggle & Hoot segments (it was my first children’s birthday cake I’d ever made!). rainbow cake 1280px-27

For his second birthday, he was obsessed with Pocoyo so I made him a cake based on the ‘Footprints’ episode. Inside it was Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake but executed much better than my initial attempt back in 2010. rainbow cake 1280px-28

So now that he’s into trains – especially Shawn the Train – a train cake seemed a no brainer.  I was actually just going to do a slab of traditional sponge and carve it up and stuff the carriages with lollies, but a part of me had always wanted to attempt a rainbow cake – so I figured there was no better time than my son’s 3rd birthday.

For the trains, I used ready-made fondant from the grocery store and a whole bevvy of Wilton food gel paste.  I made sure that I made the train and carriages at least 2-3 days ahead of schedule in order to allow it sufficient time to dry before using them as cake toppers for his BBQ.  I also used alphabet cut outs to spell Lil’ E’s name on top as he is currently obsessed with alphabet, phonics, reading – you name it – and yes.. he could read me bedtime stories before the age of 3 *so proud*!

For the recipe, I stopped by Martha Stewart and stumbled across a recipe by “Whisk Kid” blogger Kaitlin Flannery.  It was also the perfect excuse for me to stop by Scullerymade to pick up not one, not two, but three 9-inch pans!  So here’s the recipe.  My dad has already pre-ordered one for his birthday in November but I think that when the time comes, I’ll be doing ombre or more pastel coloured layers!  After all, we don’t want boozed up adults to be high on artificial food colouring as well, now, do we?

Ingredients (Makes one 9-inch-round six-layer cake)
Vegetable shortening
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup / 220 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/3 cups sugar
5 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
1/2 tsp of red, orange, yellow, green, blue & purple gel food colouring
Swiss meringue buttercream (recipe to follow)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F / 175C.  Brush six 9-inch-round cake pans (or as many 9-inch cake pans as you have, reusing them as necessary) with shortening.  Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper; brush again and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar.  Slowly add egg whites and mix until well combined.  Add vanilla and mix until fully incorporated.  Add flour mixture and milk in two alternating additions, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk.  Mix until well combined.

Divide batter evenly between six medium bowls.  Add enough of each colour of food colouring to each bowl, whisking, until desired shade is reached.  Transfer each colour to an individual cake pan.  Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the centre of each cake comes out clean, about 15 minutes (working in batches if necessary).

Remove cakes from oven and transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto a wire rack; re-invert and let cool completely.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level.  Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan.  Place the purple layer on the cake plate.  Spread a scant 1 cup buttercream filling over the first layer with a small offset spatula so it extends just beyond edges.  Repeat process with blue, green, yellow and orange layers.

Place the remaining red layer on top, bottom-side up.  Gently sweep away any loose crumbs with a pastry brush.  Using an offset spatula, cover the top and sides with a thin layer of frosting (also use any of the excess frosting visible between the layers).  Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Using an offset spatula, cover cake again with remaining frosting.

 

LEMONY SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM {I substituted the lemon extract with vanilla extract}

Ingredients
For the filling and crumb coat
9 large egg whites
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups (4 sticks / 440 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
2 tsp pure lemon extract

For the frosting
5 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks / 220 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
1 tsp pure lemon extract

Directions
Make the filling and crumb coat: cook egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until sugar is completely dissolved.  Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; mix on high speed until mixture is room temperature.  With the mixer on medium-low, add butter, one piece at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Remove the whisk attachment and switch to paddle attachment.  Increase speed to high and beat until buttercream comes together, about 5 minutes; beat in lemon extract.

Make the frosting: in a clean saucepan and bowl of an electric mixer, repeat process.

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I kept the cake inside the fridge overnight and the next day, loaded it up with the train toppers.  Lil’ E was quite astonished when the first slice was pulled out of the cake and all the bright wondrous colours were on display.

All in all, the rainbow cake turned out to be a fabulous children’s birthday cake.  I personalised it for my son, as many have done before me, and he absolutely loved it – as did all the rest of us.  A very happy cake for the most beautiful little boy – inside and out – that ever existed.  Unconditional love – that’s what it’s all about!  xoxoxo

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