The gayest cake ever...
Somehow, in searching for creative macaroni & cheese recipes (watch for that series soon), I discovered a recipe for a "Rainbow Cake" that was simply too insanely fun (read: gay) to pass up. At first I thought I'd make it for my two young nephews, but when an Evite for an Oscar viewing party (at the home of two very gay friends) arrived- with a request to bring something to share- I took it as a sign and set forth to make the gayest cake ever.
Reading the recipe online, I quickly discovered that the woman who wrote it was not only a diet freak, but also likely lived in a trailer in a fly-over state. And while I'm totally down with 'white trash gourmet' (in fact I was going to write a cookbook on it until I discovered that someone already had), her instructions and explanation left a lot to be desired. So much so in fact, that I'm not even going to credit her; I figure if you have to alter the recipe more than 50% and then figure out a complicated technique on your own, it's only fair.
Crazy trailer lady's recipe is based on substitution tricks common to many Weight Watchers type diet programs, and I've kept that part of the recipe below intact. Basically this means that the recipe is nearly fat free, and has much fewer calories than if you made it the standard way. That said (and while I personally have no problem with diet products per se), I also understand- and tend to follow- the philosophy that it's better to eat a little bit of a "real" (higher fat/calorie) dessert than to stuff your face with artificial sweeteners and processed diet foods. For that reason I've also included a note at the end of the recipe as to how you can easily make this cake the "full flavor" (and therefore higher fat and calorie) way.
A few words of advice if you're considering making this cake: while it's a fabulous dessert for a party with lots of gays- and clearly perfect for PRIDE- and although the recipe starts with boxed cake mix, it's not exactly a simple cake to make. Granted it's not rocket science, but if you're looking to mix together three ingredients, throw it in a pan and toss it into the oven, keep looking. This one takes about an hour from box to oven, plus a chunk of time to frost if you want to do a good job.
You'll definitely get lots of attention and compliments on this cake because it's visually shocking, and technically seems nearly impossible to make. My response to people asking me how I did it? Unicorns; they're fabulous kitchen assistants- and smell even better than My Little Ponies!
And now without further ado, here's the recipe:
This cake may also be called PRIDE cake, Unicorn Cake, and The Gayest Cake Ever.
1 or 2 small boxes of lemon, vanilla, or chocolate fat-free, sugar-free pudding mix (regular or instant; either will work)
Making the batter
Preheat your oven to the temperature specified on the box of cake mix. Prepare two 8- or 9-inch cake pans by either rubbing them with a bit of margarine and dusting them with flour or spraying them with nonstick baking spray. (The new ones made with flour for high-temp baking are excellent.)
To make the batter, empty the two boxes of cake mix into a large mixing bowl and add both cans of soda. Mix well with a whisk, but try not to over-mix (the bubbles from the soda have a tendency to go a bit crazy at first, but they’ll calm down once they’ve been incorporated).
Now you need to divide the batter into seven bowls; one for each color of the rainbow. To make a more even rainbow, you’ll need more batter for the colors on the outside than the center, which means using bowls of various sizes. I started with about 1 cup of batter for the red and orange, about 1 3/4 cups for yellow and green, just more than 2 cups for blue, and almost 3 cups for purple, then divided the remaining batter among them all, keeping approximately the same ratio as I went.
Now comes the fun part- coloring. Using one fork for each color, add food coloring in the necessary combinations based on the ratio listed on the packaging. Always start with less than you think is necessary, and add a few more drops at a time to make sure you don’t over-color. I used almost an entire set of standard food coloring (which is why I suggest the gel type; you won’t need as much because they’re more concentrated) to make my rainbow, but the colors turned out so bright that it was well worth it.
The Rainbow Technique
Pouring the batter into the pans can be a bit tricky, so go slowly. Each color batter should be added to the center of the pan, keeping the shape of the ’blob’ as circular as possible.
Starting with purple, pour half the batter into the center of each pan. Next, pour the blue in the center, on top of the purple, which should now be slowly working its way out to the sides of the pan. Repeat with the green.
Do not use a spoon or spatula to spread the batter. To help facilitate easier coverage you can gently spin the pans a bit, or carefully move them in a circular pattern on the counter after adding the green and each subsequent color.)
Add the yellow on top of the green, the orange on top of the yellow, and finally the red, allowing each layer to settle for a few seconds- or spinning the pans gently to assist. Put the pans in the preheated oven on the center rack and bake according to package directions. You’ll likely need to add anywhere from 5-20 minutes of baking time due to the density of the batter, which I’m guessing has something to do with the soda. In the mean time, spend some time cleaning up, then give some attention to the unicorns helping you out!
Assembly and frosting
The cakes are done when a toothpick and/or knife inserted in the center comes out dry. Allow them to cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting, mix one or two packets of pudding with the Cool Whip using a whisk. (I found that one packet of chocolate was enough, but you might like a stronger-flavored frosting.) Lay one cake down on your cake platter or stand and frost a 1/2-inch layer on top. Set the other cake on top and use the rest of the frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake. Decorate the frosted cake using rainbow sprinkles or whatever other decorations float your boat.
Serve and enjoy!
* You can get food coloring gel at gourmet food stores and online at sites like Chef’s Catalog and Amazon.com.
For readers who prefer a more classic recipe and traditional foods over reduced calorie/fat processed products (and don’t mind the fat and calories), use one box of cake mix and prepare the cake as directed, using oil and/or water and eggs. You can also use whatever type of store-bought or homemade frosting you prefer.
A note to parents: although it may appear otherwise, this cake will not make your child gay. You should be so lucky.
Jason Salzenstein is a writer and editor; design, image, and marketing consultant; and professional shopper. His work has appeared in numerous national and international publications and he has clients around the world. For more information :: www.JasonSalzenstein.com