Sunday, July 27, 2014

Surprise Inside Cake

Can you guess what's hiding under this vanilla bean buttercream?  It's a pleasant surprise!

  For the July Daring Baker’s Challenge, Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds! 

Cherry Rainbow Cake!

This post marks my third anniversary in the Daring Bakers club!  Can you believe I have posted on this blog at least once a week since July of 2011!?  I have decided it's time to let go of that expectation of myself...  But I will continue my monthly commitment to the DB challenges, and hope to have more time on my hands to give each challenge the best of myself!  This cake definitely represents how much fun I've had since I started baking and blogging in 2011.  This month our challenge was to create a surprise for the eyes and this cake definitely does the trick!

I love recipes that are surprisingly simple.  This cake and frosting are not complicated at all.  The technique used to make this cake is called zebra striping and it's done by scooping alternating colors of cake batter into the center of a pan.  It's typically made with chocolate and vanilla and with thicker stripes.  I created rainbow colored batter and alternated the colors (in traditional rainbow order) with white batter, using a tiny scoop (the smaller the scoop, the thinner the stripe). 

I am glad I added white batter between the layers of color.  Since there is not much white showing in the cake, I am guessing the colors may have muddled together without the white buffer.  I also washed my scoop in a bowl of warm water between every color for most of the cake.  I tried letting the colors mix a little with a "dirty" scoop for the last few layers and things started to look a little messy.  The center of this cake was therefore mostly purple, with no clear swirl of color that I had hoped to see.  Clean your spoon if you want nice crisp lines, but feel free to experiment with pattern and color.  I had fun doing it!  I am imagining a green or black ombre cake...definitely lots of possibilities!

Rainbow Zebra Surprise Inside Cake
Serves 10 to 12.  White cake and frosting are both from the Sprinklebakes blog.

1 box white cake mix
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup water
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Gel food coloring in rainbow shades

1 teaspoon cherry flavored exact

Whisk together cake mix, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, blend together the sour cream, water, eggs and extracts. With a hand mixer on low speed, gradually mix the wet ingredients into the dry until combined well. Spoon 1/2 cup of batter into 6 small bowls (1/2 cup in each bowl).  You will have about 1 1/2 cups white batter left in the large bowl.  Into each of the small bowls, mix 1/2 to 2/3 teaspoon gel food coloring in each color of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple).  Into the white cake batter, mix 1 teaspoon cherry flavored extract.  When you beat in the colorings and the cherry extract, mix well on high for one full minute, and wash your beaters between colors.  Prepare a large bowl of warm water and a towel next to your work space.  

Spray two 9 inch cake pans with baking spray and preheat your oven to 325F.  Plan to work on both cake pans at the same time, to save yourself the trouble of washing your spoon as often.  Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, spoon batter into the center of the cake pans in this order:  white, red, white, orange, white, yellow, white, green etc.  Between each scoop, rinse and dry your scoop (within reason, mine was slightly soiled and a little wet sometimes). Continue the pattern until you run out of batter.  Your cake pans will be 1/2 to 2/3 full.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center 
batter is cooked and the top is lightly browned.  Cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream:

2 cups unsalted butter, softened

5 cups powdered sugar
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons milk or cream

In a bowl using a hand mixer, mix together the butter and powdered sugar.  Begin on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.

Add vanilla bean and cream and beat again for another minute. If you find the buttercream is too thin or light, add up to one cup powdered sugar. Beat on high for about a minute more or until light and fluffy.

Frost the layers of cooled zebra cake with room temperature buttercream, as you would a birthday cake.  I did not level my cake layers, but you can if you like.  For the decoration, I used black sugar sheets cut into strips (and glued together using tiny bits of buttercream).  The polka dot toppers are black Sixlets.  They sell sugar sheets and Sixlets at Hobby Lobby and Micheals (or online).

Chill for several hours or overnight before serving, preferably.

Have fun and enjoy!


  1. amazing rainbow zebra cake and beautiful decoration!

  2. Gorgeous cake! I love the vibrant colors!

  3. That's fantastic! I love how bright the colors are. Good idea to use the white cake as a buffer. I would not have thought of that and it works beautifully to keep the cake from looking muddy.

  4. It's so beautiful! I would like to try that sometime. Much classier than my surprise cake, haha.

  5. This really looks fabulous! :)

  6. Gorgeous colours! And I love the contrast you get with the clean black-and-white on the outside!


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