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How to Make a Rainbow Cake

Rainbow Layer Cake

Talk about a showstopping dessert! Rainbow Layer Cake is like a pot of gold at the end of the dessert table, and everyone wants a serving. It has become so popular we feature it on the cover of our Spring 2014 food&family Magazine. What makes ours special is that the colors (and flavors) are made using JELL-O Gelatin. Following our tips for how to make a rainbow cake will help you make the perfect cake for your next gathering. We have another how to bake a cake article if you’re looking for even more tips.

How to Prep Cake Pans for a Rainbow Cake

Our recipe uses two 2-layer cake mixes. We specify white cake because that will give the best color possible. Each mix will make two layers, so you’ll need two 9-inch cake pans. You may want to check out our article on Baking Basics for more tips, but here’s a key take-away for rainbow cakes: To make getting the cake out of the pan a snap, grease and flour the pans, then line the bottoms with parchment. If you have four 9-inch pans it makes baking easier and faster because you can bake all four at once.

How to Prep Cake Batter for a Rainbow Cake

Divide the prepared batter from each mix in half, and color and flavor each half with 3 Tbsp. of JELL-O Gelatin. We used JELL-O Flavor Gelatin in Raspberry, Orange, Lime and Berry Blue for the cake we made. You can choose your favorite flavor, but if you choose Lemon, you'll get a pale, more subtle color. Measuring the batter carefully ensures even layers—check out this video on how to measure liquid and dry ingredients like a pro.

Baking Rainbow Cake Layers

Your oven should be heated to 350°F. Place the pans on the oven racks with space between them: You want air to circulate around the cakes as they bake, because this will help keep the tops even. Cakes should bake 28 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Cool cakes in the pans for 15 minutes to set, then gently remove from the pans and cool on wire racks. It does take a while to completely cool a cake, and you shouldn’t frost a warm cake, so be patient.

Frosting Your Rainbow Cake

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. We have a how to frost a cake video that gives you step-by-step instructions to a perfectly frosted cake. Michele’s tips will help with any cake you make, rainbow or not. Take this amazing chocolate cake for example: The homemade frosting is just one of the reasons it’s so special.

Storing Your Rainbow Cake

If you’re making your cake ahead of time and you have a freezer, you’re in great shape. Bake all four cake layers, cool completely. Tightly wrap each layer separately in plastic wrap and freeze up to 2 weeks. If you plan to serve your cake in the evening, thaw the wrapped cakes at room temperature in the morning, then prepare the COOL WHIP mixture and frost cakes later in the day. Our in-depth article on how to freeze baked goods can tell you more about freezing not just cakes, but cookies, banana breads, and even cookie dough!

How to Neatly Slice Your Rainbow Cake

To get the cleanest slice when serving a rainbow cake, refrigerate it before serving. Use a serrated knife dipped in hot water to cut the cake, carefully wiping the blade with a clean damp towel between cuts to prevent the frosting from building up on the blade.

Rainbow Cupcakes, JELL-O Desserts & More

Impressive as they surely are, rainbow cakes aren’t the only colorful treat at the end of the dessert rainbow! We also have recipes for rainbow cupcakes and their psychedelic cousins, tie-dye cupcakes. JELL-O Desserts naturally lend themselves to party-perfect recipes, so check out our quick video on making JELL-O and try it in everything from Rainbow JIGGLERS to Rainbow JELL-O Dessert Slices.

Savory Rainbow and “Confetti” Dishes

Rare as it is to start with desserts and end with savory sides and mains, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the rainbows made possible by vibrant red and yellow peppers, baby spinach greens, sugar snap peas and more. If you’re looking for ROYGBIV in savory form, you’ll find it in Creamy Confetti Coleslaw, Rainbow Roll-Ups, Confetti Beef Skillet and Rainbow Mac & Cheese.