Rainbow Swirl Cake

This rainbow swirl cake is easier to make than you may think! Dress up a boxed cake mix.

Rainbow Cake Recipe and Tutorial

 

My baby boy turned 2 this week. He lives his life with such joy and you just can’t be near him without laughing. And he’s wild. He deserved a Rainbow Swirl Cake.

I love how he sings his ABCs at the top of his lungs.

I love how he says “Hi! How you doin’?” to every single person he makes eye contact with.

I love how he does somersaults when he is excited,

and tells people to clap whenever he completes a puzzle.

While I could do without him climbing on top of our kitchen table

I love when he gives me that ornery little grin when he’s been caught.

Rainbow Cake Recipe and Tutorial

I love his wet, sticky kisses

and his ticklish little baby toes.

I love how he watches Yo Gabba Gabba even while staying in constant motion

and how he can fall asleep upright in his rocking chair reading a book.

I just love him to pieces. ♥

Rainbow Cake Recipe and Tutorial

Making a rainbow swirl cake is very easy- I hope you’ll try it sometime. I snapped a few pictures with my phone along the way.  Oh yes- he liked the cake ;)

Rainbow Swirl Cake from @KatrinasKitchen

Rainbow Swirl Cake

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Yield: 1 cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

This rainbow swirl cake is easier to make than you may think!

Ingredients:

  • Yellow (or white) cake batter, divided
  • Gel food dye (I use Americolor)
  • Buttercream frosting

Directions:

  1. Prepare your cake batter as you normally would and divide into however many sections that you would like.
  2. Use food dye to color your cake batter. If you use gel or paste then you will only need 1 drop per section for a brilliant, deep color.
  3. Drop your batter into the pan one color at a time and bake as normal.
  4. Frost and enjoy!

A Few Notes on Food Coloring

Difference between food color gel and decorating gel

  • I used Americolor GEL food coloring which can be purchased online or at Hobby Lobby (Amazon link provided at the end of this post).
  • Food color gel is NOT decorating gel.
  • Wilton also makes gel food coloring (available at Wal-Mart, Michaels, and JoAnne’s). I do not prefer it but it is more readily available and would produce better results than using liquid food color found in most grocery stores.
  • You use one teeny tiny drop of Americolor gel food coloring to get these vibrant colors. To get a vibrant color with liquid food coloring you may have to add up to a teaspoon of coloring (which I do NOT recommend). The color may still not be as vibrant and adding that much liquid will change the consistency of the dough.
  • I am including the links to the basic color pack and the “electric” colors. I use both sets in my kitchen. To see some more colors check out my Rainbow Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Items used in this recipe:

This post contains affiliate links

- Katrina
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84 Responses to “Rainbow Swirl Cake”

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    Averie — April 18, 2012 at 12:04 am

    You have the prettiest rainbox food! Last month you made something so pretty with rainbow colors, too, if I recall correctly!
    My recent post Peanut Butter and Jelly Chocolate Protein Fudge

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    Elizabeth — April 18, 2012 at 12:22 am

    OMG that looks totally delicious and cool! I know my boy friend wanted me to make a cake like this for his birthday, so I will! Can't wait!
    My recent post Happy Easter & Carrot Cake

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    Warm Vanilla Sugar — April 18, 2012 at 12:23 am

    This is so pretty! Amazing job!

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    Elizabeth — April 18, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I love how vibrant the cake is even after it is baked!
    My recent post Cookie Sticks

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    Tiffany — April 18, 2012 at 12:42 am

    So simple and yet so beautiful! Happy birthday to your little one!!!
    My recent post Bonkers for Bananas: Banana Rum Ice Cream

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    Blog New Black — April 18, 2012 at 1:00 am

    Gorgeous! Great job!
    My recent post Asparagus with Panko and Parmesan Cheese

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    Lori — April 18, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Love it!! The colours are amazingly bright. Such a fun cake for a birthday!

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    Karyn — April 18, 2012 at 1:22 am

    Love it! You should have included the picture with his face in the cake! That just made me smile :) Love the bright colors!
    My recent post Grandma's Brownies

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    @GloriousTreats — April 18, 2012 at 1:27 am

    So cool! I love the look of this!!

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    Becky — April 18, 2012 at 1:36 am

    You have a great testimonial from your son for his amazing rainbow cake. I would probably stick my face in it, too,f I had one:)

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    amanda @ fake ginger — April 18, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Gorgeous cake! I love the different sized sprinkles! So cute!
    My recent post Orange Beef and Broccoli

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    Jody @ hobby room — April 18, 2012 at 2:53 am

    That's gorgeous and looks fantastic on the clear cake stand. And I totally hear you on watching YGG while not sitting still, how do they do that?
    My recent post Filigree Earring Ideas and a Giveaway

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    @BakeYourDay — April 18, 2012 at 3:06 am

    I could not wait to see this after I saw the IG post. Amazing work here Katrina. I love this and your creativity!

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    theharriedcook — April 18, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Happy Birthday to your little boy!!! My daughter is two too, and aren't they a joy at that age? Mine sings her ABCs at the top of her lungs too, and asks everyone "are you okay today?" don't know where she picked up that line… The cake is just gorgeous Katrina! Perfect vibrant cake for a vibrant little one! Blessings…

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    Sue — April 18, 2012 at 3:26 am

    It looks beautiful! Great photos!
    My recent post Gingham Picnic Cookies

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    Bakedbyrachel — April 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Love the bright colored cake… but you already knew that. I wish it tasted like skittles though ;)
    My recent post PW Wednesdays ~ Mushroom Sliders with Spicy Fry Sauce

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    Joan — April 18, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Love this cake and the colors!!! Americolor is great!

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    Terra — April 18, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    Awww, love it!!! What a lucky Son you have:-) Hugs, Terra

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    Eftychia — April 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    What a colorful cake!! Beautiful!
    My recent post Shirt and Tie Birthday Cake

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    Cake with Love — April 18, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    My love for sprinkles and bright colors has no limits, these cake looks amazing!
    My recent post Vegan No Bake Chocolate Coconut Butter Crunchy Balls

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    Lindsey — April 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Oh my word I LOVE this cake!!!! I can see why your son wanted to put his face in this cake because I want to do the same thing, haha. :)
    My recent post Crunchy Biscoff Spread Giveaway

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    notrachaelray — April 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Is it weird that when I use food coloring I always think of you? lol
    My recent post {a day in the life} Thyme in Our Kitchen

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    Amy J — April 18, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    Wow! So simple, but looks so amazing!
    My recent post Testing the Waters: Day 3 – Breaking the Juice Fast

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    Maureen — April 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm

    Awww what a happy cake. Happy Birthday to the little man.

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    spiffycookie — April 18, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    That is so much fun! And I am amused that you used chobani cups for the different colors because when I painted my most recent painting I had tons of those cups with different colors of pain lying around. Definitely not edible though.
    My recent post Gnocchi with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce

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    Erin @ Dinners, Dish — April 18, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    The cake looks amazing. Perfect for a 2 year old birthday. Great picture of him!

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    Javelin Warrior — April 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    Happy Birthday to your little man and I laughed when I read the "How you doin" part because all I can hear is Joey Tribiani (sp?) from Friends and his famous line ;)
    My recent post Love and Other Commitments

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    bakingserendipity — April 19, 2012 at 2:24 am

    I love this rainbow cake! And, it sounds like it fits your happy man's personality perfectly :)
    My recent post Cinnamon, Sugar and Coffee Bean Roasted Chickpeas

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    Megan @ Pip and Ebby — April 19, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Beautiful, colorful cake and happy birthday to your son!!
    My recent post Frozen strawberries and cream dessert

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    Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — April 20, 2012 at 3:58 am

    Wow, what a cake!! I'm sure he was one very happy little boy when he saw that. :-)
    My recent post Raw Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Walnuts and Miso Dressing

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    FestivePartyGirl — April 20, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Happy Birthday to your son! This cake looks so much easier than the layered rainbow cake. I love all of the bright colors.
    My recent post Superhero Party Ideas

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    nic010205 — April 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    I just love that picture of him enjoying his cake!!!
    My recent post Beef and Mushroom Hot Pot

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    Correen — April 27, 2012 at 4:17 am

    I've been blessed with boys too…happiness abounded in our house because of their carefree antics. Mmm! times ten, which is like a bazillion to boys, to your rainbow swirl cake idea and recipe. My Nick at five woulda said, "I wuv you mom", as he had cake smeared all over his lips, fingers and face. :)
    My recent post Stephanie Dickison’s Spot in the Light

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    Kim — April 29, 2012 at 3:35 am

    Gorgeous cake, and also, a really cute post. :) Made me smile – I have a 17-month-old climber so I know that little grin! Thanks for posting!
    My recent post Bacon Pancakes!

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    Coverthousewife — May 7, 2012 at 6:10 am

    Wow! so pretty!!! :)

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    Barbe — May 28, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    Let me say that I am old so there are very few things that surprise me these days. This is one of the most creative things I have ever seen! I can't wait to make one for my great niece, Cali. It is truly a work of art. Thanks so much for sharing this!

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    Gayle — June 28, 2012 at 6:15 am

    Oh my goodness! I just made this with my soon to be 9 year old. He had a blast doing it and so did I! I took lots of pictures. He's so excited to cut into it tomorrow!

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    Angela — January 19, 2013 at 12:03 am

    Omg!! I love the cake!! I want to bake one like this for my friend. But I have a question, the colors don’t get mixed in together once you put them all together in the pan?

    • Katrina Bahl — January 19th, 2013 @ 8:28 am

      Nope! I used gel food coloring (it doesn’t thin out the cake batter like liquid food coloring would). Just drop the batter in and try not to shake it around before baking. Have fun!

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    Cori Harrison — February 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    OMG I love this…my daughter wants a rainbow cake for her party tomorrow…I was going to make the usual rainbow stack but wasn’t too keen on it…seemed to blah and over done but it’s what she wants…then I saw this and I’m SO excited about it…and I know she is going to LOVE it and is going to be so thrilled when she cuts into it :-)

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    Leah — February 25, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Love this idea! Any suggestions on how to do this with cupcakes?

    • Katrina Bahl — February 26th, 2013 @ 10:40 am

      I haven’t tried it with cupcakes yet but I would just start with small amounts of each batter color and use the same method.

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    Lezzetli Sanatlar - Pırıl — February 28, 2013 at 4:54 am

    İ love rainbow cake.
    That’s so lovely and beautiful cake.
    İ’m going to try it as soon as possible for my spring tea table.
    Thank you for sharing this.

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    Meels-holio — March 7, 2013 at 12:45 am

    Absolutely amazing. Absolutely (bleeping) AMAZING. This made my day… my week…my day again. Thank you. And, I steer clear from the artificial dyes, but I can’t help but LOVE your cake slice. Wouldn’t have the same visual impact without the fake color. Seriously, the best photo/design/styling among all the “rainbow cake” images on google (at least the first 400+ photos). Just brilliant.
    My 6-year old and 3-year old saw this and were gobsmacked.

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    Ashley — May 8, 2013 at 9:38 am

    Thanks for posting this, I’ll be making this cake this weekend to celebrate the 3rd birthday of my daughter and niece!

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    Erica — May 8, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Wow this is truly special , what are peoples thoughts on making this for an adult?

    What was used for the sprinkles?

    Thanks!
    Erica

    • Katrina Bahl — May 10th, 2013 @ 10:11 am

      Hi Erica! I have made this for adults too- still a fun surprise to cut into! I’ve updated the post with links to what products I used. Thanks for stopping by- K

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    Meels-holio — May 19, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Stopping by to ogle again and ask about permissions.

    Would it be ok with you if I posted the cake slice photo (on clear glass plate) on my Facebook page, with due credit, of course. I think it’s a beautiful creation & photo and wanted to share. No intent to sell or profit from it. And, no problem if it’s not ok. Thank you!

    • Katrina Bahl — May 21st, 2013 @ 9:33 am

      Thank you for stopping by! I’m always happy for my readers to share the content here with a picture and a link back to the full recipe. I appreciate you asking- and thanks for sharing!

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    Michele Benson — May 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    I am going to make this for my neice’s 10th birthday this weekend but I am wanting to make a single layer cake in a rectangular pan. Any tips on how I should pour in the different color batters with this type of pan? THANKS!

    • Katrina Bahl — May 21st, 2013 @ 9:30 am

      I was out of town this weekend! Did you end up making it? I would love to see how it turned out- pop me and email or post a pic on my Facebook page if you get a chance. My advice for anyone attempting this in any size pan is to just drop the batter by spoonfuls all over the pan. No need to stir. As the cake bakes and the batter spreads it will create the pockets of color.

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    Michele Benson — May 23, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    I will actually be making this cake this coming weekend for my neice’s b-day party on the 26th. I bought some gel food dye specially for this. Thanks for the advice. i have a feeling this will be a hit. I will try to get pictures :-)

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    Katie Finch — May 27, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Hi, this cake is FAB! I want to make it for my God Daughter but i am worried about the colours mixing? Was there a way of them not combinning when you put them all in one tin?

    Thanks

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    Michele Benson — May 27, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I just made this and it was a hit!!! The colors don’t mix all together like you might expect, they form pockets of color even when you pour colors on top of other colors. Just make sure you use the gel food coloring. The regular food coloring will water down the batter.

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    Dawn — May 29, 2013 at 10:59 am

    One of the most beautiful rainbow cakes I’ve seen!

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    Natalia — May 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Looking for rainbow images for my four year-old daughter, we bumped into your blog and fell in love with your Rainbow Swirl Cake and amazing creations–so inspiring! Thank you for sharing your passion, creativity, love of family and food…it’s contagious:-)

    • Katrina Bahl — May 31st, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

      That makes me so happy! I’m so glad you’re here!!

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    Saranya — June 18, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I plan to make this cake but before that, I had a question – was there a specific method you used to drop the batter into the pan? From the final outcome it looks like you randomly dropped blobs of coloured batter into the tin. Am worried that dropping it in incorrectly may result in a sludge of colours and ruin the cake’s appearance, so any guidance is appreciated.

    • Katrina Bahl — June 18th, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

      Yep I just dropped big blobs (like that technical term?) of batter into each pan. I didn’t run a knife through or swirl it around.

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    Saranya — June 18, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Ok, I just scrolled above and got my answer from a previous comment!

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    Saranya — June 25, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Made it with my four-year old acting as assistant! Turned out wonderfully! Great make-at-home cake for kids.

    • Katrina Bahl — June 25th, 2013 @ 1:03 pm

      I’m so happy to hear that you and your child enjoyed baking it together!

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    Diana — June 26, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Hey there! It’s my first time on your site – I found it through a “rainbow cake” Google search. Your recipe and presentation looks awesome, and I really want to try to make this cake. My only problem is that I can only find powdered food coloring in my area. Is it possible to substitute powdered coloring for the gel? Do you have any tips?

    • Katrina Bahl — June 26th, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! Other readers have sent my pictures of their cakes using liquid food coloring. The method will be the same for you. The colors just may not be as vibrant. I’ve never worked with powdered food color. Good luck!

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    taylor — June 26, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    it was amazingly easy mad it with my girl on our girls night

    • Katrina Bahl — June 27th, 2013 @ 10:14 am

      I’m happy to hear that you tried it and loved it! Thanks for letting me know.

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    Tianna — June 27, 2013 at 2:22 am

    Made it with Taylor :) It was pretty easy and we’re planning on doing it at her place next time. I love how it turned out and so does my family

    • Katrina Bahl — June 27th, 2013 @ 10:16 am

      Glad to know it turned out well and that you liked it!

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    Lucy — July 3, 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Hi, I tried this with 1 box of Pillsbury’s white cake mix and Betty Crocker Gel Food colors. My results, frankly, were miserable. It took a really long time to get the batter to the colors I wanted, and after it was baked, It was really flat. Any suggestions? How many cake mixes that you use. My hunch is that I over-mixed the batter to get the color in.

    • Katrina Bahl — August 23rd, 2013 @ 7:49 am

      Hi Lucy, I have received a few emails about this from other readers as well. Please note that Better Crocker Decorating gels are NOT food coloring. They are used to write on cakes/cookies/etc. I’m sorry that your experience with this cake was not good. I have updated the post howing exactly what colors I used. I hope you will try it again. Thanks for reading!

      - Katrina

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    Mackenzie — August 1, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Hello ,

    I love this recipe and would like to know what colors you used :)

    -Thanks

    • Katrina Bahl — August 23rd, 2013 @ 7:50 am

      Hi Mackenzie- I have updated the post showing which food colors I used. Thank you for reading!

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    Anna O — August 23, 2013 at 5:07 am

    Hi,

    I’m from England and we tend to use the liquid food colourings, will this make a difference or do I need to get hold of some gel colourings?

    • Katrina Bahl — August 23rd, 2013 @ 7:47 am

      Hi Anna,

      I have updated the post to show exactly what colors I used. Some others have made the cake with liquid coloring and the colors turn out more pastel rather than vibrant. Just FYI! Thanks for stopping by!

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    Tina@GottaRunNow — August 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I surprised my family with this colorful cake this week and included it in my recent blog post. Thanks for sharing how you did it!

    • Katrina Bahl — August 26th, 2013 @ 9:40 am

      It looks great! Thanks for letting me know!

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    Sweet Sticky Rainbow — August 26, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    pretty cake.

    Pinned it!

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    Celine — October 1, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Hi Katrina–
    What a beautiful cake! I want to make it for my son’s 4th birthday (he has chosen “rainbow” as his new favorite color because he just can’t decide which one he likes best!). Did you use the electric colors for this cake, or the regular soft colors? Thanks!

    • Katrina Bahl — November 2nd, 2013 @ 9:34 am

      Hi Celine, I think we talked over email? I used the electric colors except for the red.

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    The Cake Lovers (@thecakelovers75) — October 3, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Great tutorial on making this delicious looking rainbow cake.

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    Evelyn Chuter — November 13, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    This cake is so beautiful! I can’t believe that it’s so easy to make. My grandchildren will love this cake and I can’t wait to make it for them. Thanks for sharing all you awesome recipe’s!

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    Lori — August 17, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    My daughter and I were making this cake and baked it without the food coloring. Any way to fix this and have the colors there?

    • Katrina Bahl — August 22nd, 2014 @ 9:49 am

      That sounds like the story of my life! I hope you at least enjoyed a delicious cake. :)

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