Recipe courtesy of Virginia Hammon and COLOURlovers.
Any white cake recipe that makes a moderately firm cake will do. The recipe below can be multiplied and still give good results. A cream-cheese icing is recommended because it has a firm body and will help hold up the cake. Putting sections of the cake together and chilling them before putting the whole cake together will also help to keep the cake intact.
About the Pan
This recipe used 5-inch-by-1-inch round pans. Each layer is enough to serve 2-3 people. I have only tried a mutli-layered cake (28 layers) with 5-inch pans -- but it would be fun to make a many layered cake with 8” rounds, if you've got a VERY large group of people to serve.
About the Shape
If you want to keep it as a log, the challenge is to figure out how to create a wedge to support the curved side of the layers on the flat platter. You could shave a consistent wedge off each round layer so that they could sit on the flat edge.
Another option, with any size pan, would be to cut each layer in half down the middle, making a semi-circular cake layer. You would now have two semi-circular layers of each color. The cake layers would sit on this flat side creating a half-log. You could set aside for nibbles one of the half layers of the color that you want to put in the middle, then run your rainbow or your color sequence out on both sides. Or, just create a pattern that strikes your fancy!
Decide how many layers you want, and gather enough pans to make it possible. I used seven 5-inch pans to make the 28-layer cake in four batches.
How Much Batter?
Using a measuring cup and water, determine how many cups it takes to fill one of your pans up to the top. My pans each hold 1 cup.
When you've measured how much water it takes to fill one pan, multiply this by the number of layers you will be making. This will give you the number of cups of batter that you need to fill your pans. With my pans, a seven layer cake takes 7 cups of batter; the 28 layer cake took 28 cups of batter.
Check to see how many cups your cake recipe makes, and do the math to figure out how many multiples of the recipe you will need to make all your layers. Since I only had seven pans to make the 28-layer cake, I made up four separate batches of the cake batter, which makes about 7 cups, and filled the seven pans. This works better than trying to make one huge batch of batter and then let it sit around while each round of the pans are baking.
COLOURlovers Cake Recipe
Set all your ingredients out the night before so that they are all at about 70 degrees.
- 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract, optional
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from one lemon), optional
- 3 cups cake flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- Food coloring (I used one package of the four basic colors, including red, blue, yellow, and green, and one package of the 'neon' colors, including purple, pink, turquoise, and lime)
FOR THE FROSTING
- Two 8 oz packages cream cheese
- 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Generously grease and flour your pans
3. Cream 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar until fluffy. Cream until fluffy; Add 4 eggs. (You can also separate the eggs, and only use the whites. If you do this, beat the egg whites until stiff, but not dry and fold them in after all the dry ingredients have been added.) Then add 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional), and 1 tablespoon lemon zest (grated peel of one lemon - optional)
4. In a separate bowl, sift together 3 cups of sifted-before measured cake flour (general all-purpose white flour works fine), 4 teaspoons baking powder, and a 1/2 teaspoon salt.
5. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk. Stir the batter until smooth after each addition.
6. Have a bowl for each baking pan you will be making in this batch. I made seven layers from this recipe, so I put one cup of batter in each bowl. I was a little short by the time I got to the last bowl, so I just scooped some out of each to even them up.
7. Add your food coloring to each bowl. For this cake, I used 1/2 teaspoon of color per bowl, just to get an idea of how intense the colors come out with a measured amount. I left one bowl empty until after I had stirred the others, so that I could decide what I wanted to use for the last color. I decided on pink, then mistakenly used the red. Bother. Since I already had red, I added purple to one red, which resulted in the deep cranberry color. You really can't make a mistake on the colors.
8. Put the batter from each bowl into one of your greased and floured pans. They should fill up to about 1/4" below the top of the pan. Pick the pans up by their sides, holding them level, and tap them on the table to get any bubbles of air up.
9. Bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 18-22 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean, and the edges should be pulling away from the sides of the pan. It's better to err a bit on the overcooked than the undercooked, because a too moist cake will not be as firm. Remember not to open your oven door until at least 15 minutes have passed; the cold air can make the cakes fall.
10. Let the cakes cool in their pans for about 15 minutes, until they are just slightly warm, and easy to handle. Turn them out to cool onto racks.
Cakes naturally bake with a bit of a dome. Once you've taken them out of their pans and they are completely cool, use a long serrated bread knife to slice this off this dome so that you have a relatively flat surface on both sides of each layer.
Arranging the Colors
1. Decide what order you want your colors in, and set them out.
2. While the cakes are cooling, make your frosting. This recipe makes more than enough to frost 7 layers. You will need to multiply it for more layers.
1. Cream together the 2 packages of cream cheese and 1/2 cup butter until well mixed and creamy.
2. Add one teaspoon each of vanilla and lemon extract, and mix until smooth.
3. Gradually stir in the 2 cups of confectioners' sugar.
4. Frost the top of each layer and stack them as you wish, in stacks of about four.
6. Refrigerate for a couple hours so that the cake and frosting can set. The cake layers will be more likely to retain their shape in a vertical position if the layers with frosting have had this time to chill.
Assembling the Cake
1. Lay out some waxed paper -- making a space in the center for your cake. You will be removing this paper after you've frosted the outside of the cake (and any mess you made).
2. Lay down three pieces of red or black licorice a couple inches apart on your platter. Put two pieces on the bottom, and one more piece to make a triangular wedge. This will help hold the layers vertical.
3. Take your chilled and top-frosted layer stacks out of the refrigerator. Pick them up as stacks. Set the stacks vertically on the platter, holding the groups already down steady while you continue to add stacks until all the layers are down.
4. Frost the outside of the cake, and the unfrosted end. Add whatever decorations you want...get out the knife, and dig in!