Rainbow Layer Cake

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 15 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Nonstick cooking spray, for the pans

3 1/2 cups (450 grams) all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/4 cups (300 grams) heavy cream, at room temperature

1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream, at room temperature

2 sticks (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) refined or unrefined coconut oil, soft but not melted

2 1/4 cups (450 grams) granulated sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract, optional

Food coloring gels (red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple)

Strawberry Buttercream, recipe follows

Sprinkles, for decorating

Strawberry Buttercream:

2 sticks (225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup (80 grams) strawberry preserves

5 cups (600 grams) powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or extract

6 tablespoons (90 grams) heavy cream

Drop pink food coloring, optional


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease six 6-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside (if you don't have six pans, you can bake in batches).
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl, then lightly stir in the salt and set aside. Whisk together the heavy cream and sour cream in a large measuring cup and set aside. 
  3. Cream together the butter, coconut oil and granulated sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extract, if using. Reduce the mixer to medium-low and add the dry mixture and cream mixture in 3 alternating additions, stopping right after you add the last of the dry mixture and cream mixture; don't mix them in completely, because when you mix in the food coloring you'll continue to mix, and that's when everything will get fully combined. (Prevent overmixing at all costs!)
  4. Divide the batter among 6 medium bowls (using a scale is the most efficient way to do this) and stir in good big plops of food coloring until the batter is bright. Distribute the batter among the cake pans and spread it out evenly.
  5. Bake until the tops of the cakes are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs on it; begin checking for doneness at 22 minutes and try your darnedest not to let it overbake.
  6. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 
  7. Level the tops of the layers with a serrated knife, then place a layer on a cardboard cake round. Stack layers up with a thin layer of Strawberry Buttercream in between each. Frost all over and decorate with sprinkles as desired. Enjoy!

Strawberry Buttercream:

  1. Beat together the butter and preserves in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until creamy, about 4 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar, then mix in the salt, vanilla, heavy cream and pink food coloring, if using. Mix until creamy.
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