Rainbow Cake

rainbowI bake for many reasons. To create, and to experiment. To comfort, and to cheer. To celebrate, for sure; birthdays and holidays and important rites of passage.

Today, I celebrate the Supreme Court’s decision to make same-sex marriage a nationwide right. I celebrate¬†dear friends, whose commitment inspire me. I celebrate equality, while also recognizing that we still have a long way to go¬†in our country, to guarantee not only legal rights but tolerance and acceptance in the hearts and minds of all citizens.

This is, perhaps, my favorite cake I’ve ever baked. It takes quite some time and requires a great deal of patience, but like all good things, it is well worth it.


Rainbow Cake (also known as Marriage Equality Cake or Pride Cake)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet gel food coloring

Vanilla Almond Buttercream

  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • dash of salt
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two 6-inch round cake pans with baking spray; line each with a parchment circle and spray the parchment. Note: if you’re fortunate enough to have 6 pans, you don’t have to worry about doing this in three stages, like I did. If you only have 2 pans, you’ll need to follow the instructions below on baking, cleaning your pans, and re-lining them for each batch.

In a large bowl, combine flour and baking powder; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together sugar, shortening, and salt until fluffy.

Add eggs and vanilla; beat until combined.

Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches, starting and ending with the flour and beating until just combined.

Set out 6 bowls; using your dry measuring cups, scoop 3/4 cup of batter into each bowl to divide batter evenly. Tint each portion a different rainbow color.

Pour red batter into one pan and orange into another; bake for 10-11 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and immediately flip cakes onto a cooling rack. Wash pans and repeat the spraying, lining, filling, and baking process with your yellow and green layers, then again for your blue and violet layers.

Cool cakes completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, place butter in a mixing bowl and beat with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, add the salt, and beat for another minute.

Add powdered sugar all at once, then cover your mixer with a towel and beat on low speed until powdered sugar is completely incorporated into the butter. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add vanilla and almond extracts; beat for another 2-3 minutes, until very fluffy.

If desired, reserve a small portion of the frosting to tint red; I piped a heart on the top of my cake, but you could cover it with sprinkles or leave it plain or frost it in whatever way you like.

To assemble, level out your layers if necessary; I trimmed mine just slightly to even them out. Begin with the violet layer; place it on your cake plate and cover the top with a thin layer of the buttercream. Repeat with the blue, green, yellow, orange, and red layers; frost the top, then the sides.

Store at room temperature.

Below are a few photos of the process; be ready to use lots of bowls and do several rounds of dishes!