Rainbow Explosion Cake!
What more does a five year old want for her birthday than a party filled with rainbows and unicorns?!? A Unicorn Rainbow EXPLOSION Cake! For my daughter’s 5th birthday this weekend, I hosted an early morning pajama and pancake party – inviting a few of her friends to come over in their pajamas to decorate pancakes. About an hour before everyone arrived I cooked the pancakes (my go to is Mark Bittman’s Everyday Pancake Recipe) and kept them in the oven on warm. I had the table set with an assortment of pillowcases and fabric markers along with pitchers of Fruit Loops to string pipe cleaner bracelets. I set out bowls of different toppings including berries, sprinkles, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips.
I had been waiting for just the right occasion to try my hand at a surprise explosion cake and a rainbow unicorn themed birthday party was the perfect excuse! I’m going to be perfectly honest, the cake did take quite a bit of planning ahead. The upside being that all of the baking can be done well in advance. I started about a week out as it requires doubling the recipe to get six, eight inch round layers. I only had three pans so did the baking over the course of two evenings. Freezing the layers actually makes the cake easier to assemble and frost which I did the day before the party.
Another tip is to invest in good food coloring gel which I used to to die each layer of the cake. You can essentially use any cake recipe and bake in rounds. Before assembling, use a round cookie cutter, starting with the bottom layer to make circular hole in the center of the cake. Place the bottom layer on a cake board slightly bigger than the cake rounds. Spread the layer with frosting and place the second layer on top. Continue with remaining layers except do not forget to leave the top layer whole. Before placing the top layer on the cake, fill the hole with an assortment of sprinkles and candy. I used these speciality unicorn rainbow sprinkles and also made a trip to the NY Cake (the answer to all your baking needs in NYC) to find extra candy coated chocolate balls. The cake is very adaptable and the possibilities to decorate are endless. All said, it wasn’t nearly as complicated as I imagined and the surprise and screams of delight from all the kids made it so worth it!
I would recommend trying starting with a White Cake with ButterCream Frosting. The below recipes are both from my friend Brenda, one of the best bakers I know!
Brenda’s White Cake
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease and flour 3 – 8 inch round cake pans. Line bottom with parchment paper rounds, grease and flour.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened (recommended Kerry Gold)
2 cups granulated sugar (recommended extra fine sugar)
7 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup whole milk
Combine butter and sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until creamy and fluffy, 3-5 min. Stop mixer, and scrape down sides. With mixer running on low speed, add eggs 1 at a time, stopping to scrape down sides as need. Add vanilla, beating on low speed just until combined.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture alternating with milk in 3 parts, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat until blended after each addition. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. (I eyeballed, you could also use a scale to make sure they’re even).
Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and edges begin to pull away from pans, 24-26 minutes. Cool can layers in pan on wire rack 15 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, remove pans and cool completely before frosting, 30 minutes. To freeze, wrap layers individually in plastic wrap and tinfoil. Again this cake recipe makes 3 – eight inch rounds so for six layers (which is recommended for the explosion cake you will need to double).
Vanilla Butter Cream
2 cups unsalted butter, softened
7 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon other salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
Beat butter in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium speed until creamy 1-2 minutes. Reduce speed too low. With mixer running gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth about 2 minutes stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Beat in vanilla and salt. With mixer running on medium speed, gradually add cream, beating until fluffy and spreadable, about 30 seconds.
This recipe doesn’t quite make enough to frost the six layers to I multiplied by 1.5 and had extra, you could also double and have more than enough.