“I don’t worry
Whenever skies are gray above
Got a pocketful of rainbows
Got a heart full of love“
-Elvis Presley, “Pocketful of Rainbows”
I made a cake the other day. It’s a colorful cake. It’s colorful on the outside, and it’s colorful on the inside. You’ll see.
Have you guys ever visited Amanda over at i am baker?? If you haven’t, why. not?! You are missing out. Big time. On this, this, all of these, this, these, and this. Amazing, huh? Plus, Amanda is incredibly talented, but she’s also a very kind and generous person. She does wonderful things for others, for no other reason than to be helpful and good. She inspires me so much. You seriously need to check her out, if you haven’t already.
Back in December of last year, for my very last post of the year, I wrote a list of kitchen resolutions for 2011. My number one resolution was to make Amanda’s amazing heart cake. Amanda has a lot of incredible “surprise” cakes on her blog, like this one and this one. They’re fantastic, and I’ve always been enthralled with them. The best part is that she shares tutorials on how to make them! But the heart has always been my very favorite.
When I finally got up the nerve to give it a try, I knew I wanted to try to do something new to it…something to make it my own. I’ve always wanted to make a beautiful rainbow layer cake too, but I’ve seen soooooooooo many on the Internets lately, how on earth can I find a new way to present it that hasn’t already been done a bazillion times?!
That’s when a crazy stupid idea hit me, and I decided to combine Amanda’s heart cake with a rainbow layer cake. Alright, I say crazy and stupid….well, it was, but it was also crazy fun.
And, if I might just pat myself on the back for a half second, it’s crazy pretty too. It’s nowhere near as gorgeous and absolutely perfectly proportioned as Amanda’s creations, but I’m pretty darn pleased with it. It still needs some work, some practice, but I think that I might just have it down in one or two more cakes. I would have liked for my heart to be more rounded in all the places it’s supposed to be round, but I couldn’t do a whole lot of carving away, since I was using the cakes I was cutting away as the rainbow layers.
See, I made two rainbow layer cakes. Okay. I started with two 6-inch, six-layer cakes. Wait. Well. I baked two recipes for an eight-inch two-layer cake, but I baked them as 6-inch rounds instead, and ended up with six total (six six-inch round cake layers, one red, one orange, one yellow, one green, one blue, and one purple). Each layer was sliced in half, creating a total of 12 layers (two of each color). Which gave me two six-inch, six-layer cakes, but they were stacked in opposites… Am I losing you? Here…let me show you.
K. My cakes are baked…
So first off, I made the filling frostings. Each one was just a couple of tablespoons of my main frosting with food coloring (Wilton gel colors, which I also used in the cake batter, as well as the fondant) added. Since I’d only need five layers of filling frosting, I skipped the red. Red or purple are the two color options that can be skipped, since those are the top/bottom layers. I went with red because I can make purple with less food coloring. What can I say? I’m cheap and lazy! If you’re even cheaper and lazier (which I fully intend to be next time) skip the colors altogether and just use white frosting!
Anyhoo. After slicing each layer in half, I frosted the tops of the cakes with corresponding filling colors and stacked them into two stacks of three layers each (red, orange, and yellow in one stack, and green, blue, and purple in the other stack). Repeat this process with your second cake.
When all was said and done, I had two stacks of red, orange, and yellow cake, and two stacks of green, blue, and purple cake. Now, you’ll notice in this photo that the green, blue, and purple layers on the left are on a cake board. They are the bottom half of one cake (with the cakes behind them making up the top half). Conversely, the red, orange, and yellow cakes on the right are on their own cake board and will be the bottom half of the second cake (with the cakes behind them creating the top half).
But first you have to trim, hollow, refill, and stack them. I began following Amanda’s instructions very closely, except that I needed to keep extra carving to a minimum, since my goal was to use the layers that I removed from cake one to created the heart inside cake two (Amanda fills hers with red velvet cake crumbs…totally makes more sense…what was I thinking?). Amanda instructs that you should create a guide to make sure that your layers will line up (brilliant).
Next, you cut the bottom of the heart out by slicing along the guide you created and into the cake, making a cone shape. Try to be as neat and even here as you can, and be sure to get your knife point centered (and keep it there) while you slice, or you may end up with a flat-bottomed heart. Which is still totally cute, both of mine ended up slightly flat bottomed in sections.
Now the top part is where things got tricky. So tricky that I forgot all about my darn camera and have nothing to show for you. My best advice is to hit up Amanda’s tutorial again, but as I said before, if you do your cake my way, you really need to keep the carving to a minimum. I tried to use a spoon to cut the top half of the cake out, and it worked. Sort of. I got a curve to the top half that I wouldn’t have gotten with a knife, and was able to eliminate a lot of carving, but I still didn’t get a great shape, and it was very messy since the spoon wasn’t cutting so much as ripping. Once the cakes were assembled and sliced open (after sitting for several hours), gravity had done a good job of filling in my goofs, but I am going to try this again and again, until I get it right, then I’m going to write a massive, super detailed tutorial. Hopefully, it won’t take a billion tries.
I chilled the cakes for a half hour or so, then gave them a quick crumb coat before chilling them again (another half hour). Once chilled, I covered the cakes in a generous finishing coat of smooth, pure white frosting. Then I moved on to the decorations.
At this point, I had absolutely no idea how the insides were going to look, so I decided that the outsides needed to be fun and beautiful. So that I’d still have cute cakes to show you guys. Because I was sure the inside would be an utter failure.
So I made pretty fondant colors…
…and lots of pretty fondant colors. I made at least two shades of each of the cake layer colors to use on the outside of the cake (I used the same food coloring for each shade, just adding more or less, as needed, to achieve the shade I wanted). Then I busted out my little flower cutters (from Wilton Gum Paste Flowers Set) and made about a trillion tiny flowers and dots. It was a lot of bits, but super fast since I used little cutters.
I loved all of the bursts of color, and the variety of shapes so much that I decided to keep it minimalistic in detail. I think it balances out the busy-ness of the decorations. Keeping them clean and simple makes their shapes and colors that much more interesting and beautiful. This is such a happy cake. Even if the inside were plain, or just a lovely rainbow layer cake, it’s gorgeous. And happy. And makes me smile.
Thank you, Amanda, for the inspiration and perfectly clear tutorial!
Recipes used for this cake:
2 recipes Yellow Cake
1 1/2 recipes Vanilla Buttercream
All linked recipes by Darla