Rainbow Layer Cake Recipe

Elevate any celebration with this stunning Rainbow Layer Cake, meticulously designed with vibrant layers and enhanced with Molly Yeh’s expert baking tips. Topped with a delightful strawberry buttercream, this cake not only dazzles with its appearance but also delights the palate with its rich flavors.



  • Nonstick Cooking Spray, for the pans
  • All-Purpose Flour: 3 1/2 cups (450 grams)
  • Baking Powder: 1 tablespoon
  • Kosher Salt: 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Heavy Cream: 1 1/4 cups (300 grams), at room temperature
  • Sour Cream: 1/2 cup (120 grams), at room temperature
  • Unsalted Butter: 2 sticks (225 grams), at room temperature
  • Coconut Oil: 1/2 cup (100 grams), soft but not melted
  • Granulated Sugar: 2 1/4 cups (450 grams)
  • Large Eggs: 4, at room temperature
  • Vanilla Bean Paste or Extract: 1 tablespoon
  • Almond Extract: 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
  • Food Coloring Gels: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple

Strawberry Buttercream:

  • Unsalted Butter: 2 sticks (225 grams), at room temperature
  • Strawberry Preserves: 1/4 cup (80 grams)
  • Powdered Sugar: 5 cups (600 grams)
  • Kosher Salt: 1/8 teaspoon
  • Vanilla Bean Paste or Extract: 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Heavy Cream: 6 tablespoons (90 grams)
  • Pink Food Coloring (optional)


Prepare the Cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 320°F (160°C).
  2. Spray six 6-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream the butter, coconut oil, and sugar until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and almond extracts.
  6. Mix in the heavy cream and sour cream.
  7. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined.
  8. Divide the batter among six bowls and color each with a different food coloring.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops.

Bake the Cake:

  1. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  2. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Prepare the Buttercream:

  1. Beat the butter until creamy.
  2. Add strawberry preserves, then gradually mix in the powdered sugar.
  3. Add salt, vanilla, and heavy cream, beating until light and fluffy.
  4. Adjust color with pink food coloring if desired.

Assemble the Cake:

  1. Use a serrated knife to level the tops of the cakes if necessary.
  2. Place one layer on a rotating cake stand and spread with buttercream.
  3. Repeat with remaining layers, stacking them from darkest to lightest.
  4. Frost the outside of the cake with a thin crumb coat of buttercream.
  5. Chill the cake for 20 minutes, then apply a final coat of buttercream.
  6. Decorate with sprinkles or additional buttercream as desired.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: 12 servings
Category: Dessert
Method: Baking
Cuisine: American
Diet: Vegetarian


  • Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature to achieve a smooth, uniform batter.
  • For the brightest layers, use high-quality gel food coloring.


Q: How can I make sure my cake layers are even? A: Use a kitchen scale to divide the batter evenly between the pans.

Q: What’s the best way to apply the food coloring? _A: Add color gradually until the desired vibrancy is achieved. More color results in more vivid layers.

Conclusion: This Rainbow Layer Cake is not only a visual treat but also a delectable dessert that’s perfect for any festive occasion. With its colorful layers and fruity strawberry buttercream, it’s guaranteed to be the centerpiece of your celebration. Enjoy the process of baking this masterpiece and the joyful reactions it will surely evoke.

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