At Home With Adam - Rainbow Birthday Cake

Adam's House (WPVI) -- We are about to have our first COVID-19 birthday celebration in the house. Our daughter Hannah just turned four and we wanted to make sure she felt special. Since this will be a party for four, I wanted to go all out to make her smile with a rainbow inspired cake.

A rainbow represents hope, peace, and the end of a passing storm. It doesn't matter where you are and what you are dealing with, once you see a rainbow, your world suddenly feels lighter and brighter.

I got this idea from my friend Dan Langan of the Food Network and his crayon cake challenge.

I do not have the tools or ingredients in the house to duplicate it, but I can improvise.

I am going to use his confetti celebration cake recipe and divide it into 6 colors of the rainbow

Instead of sprinkles, I'm using a fun colored confetti for the outer layer of the cake. For the cake itself I want vibrant food coloring, and prefer gels, not liquid.

When we slice through the cake, I want Hannah to see the bright colors of each layer with Dan's delicious buttercream frosting sandwiched between them.

This recipe creates a fluffy and velvety the batter. Dan told me using room temperature butter with the dry ingredients is the key, called "the reverse creaming method." Also, using cake flour will lead to a nice airy cake. Cake flour has less gluten, so it leads to a delicate, lighter cake.

The frosting is true a American Buttercream. This recipe has less sugar than traditional buttercream and you can even reduce it more if you'd like. It is very easy to work with and fills the layers nicely.

The cake turned out perfectly! Our daughter started jumping as the first colorful slice was removed from the cake. All the effort was worth it when I saw the expression on my kids' faces.

Dan's Confetti Celebration Cake

This recipe makes 1 half sheet cake (as seen in the video) and will also yield 3 8-inch round layers, or about 26-28 standard sized cupcakes.

  • 6 ounces (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened

  • 425 grams granulated sugar (2 cups plus 2 tablespoons)

  • 250 grams cake flour (2 cups)

  • 75 grams all-purpose flour (2/3 cups)

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 12 ounces buttermilk, at room temperature (1 1/2 cups)

  • 4 large eggs

  • 3 ounces vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles

  • Instructions
  • Preheat your oven to 350* F. Grease and lightly flour 3 8" round pans, or line a half sheet pan with parchment and spray it with nonstick spray

  • In a bowl or large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Set aside

  • In the bowl of your stand mixer combine the sugar, cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine the dry ingredients

  • Place the mixer bowl on the mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, begin adding chunks of softened butter and continue blending until the mixture is sandy and no visible chunks of butter remain

  • Add 1/4 of the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and blend on low to combine

  • Raise the mixer to medium high speed and beat for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl and beater halfway through beating

  • Add half of the remaining liquid ingredients to the bowl, blend on low to combine and then scrape the bowl

  • Add the remaining liquid ingredients and continue to blend on the lowest speed for 2 minutes

  • Fold in the rainbow sprinkles

  • Divide the batter into the pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out with a few most crumbs stuck to it

  • Cool the layers in their pans for 15 minutes, then turn them onto a cooling rack and carefully wrap them in plastic wrap while they cool completely


  • 1 pound of unsalted butter, softened

  • 1.75 pounds of 10x powdered sugar (sift if there are any lumps)

  • 3-4 tablespoons of skim milk

  • 2 teaspoons of quality vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon of table salt (dissolve in milk)

  • Instructions

  • Beat the butter in a stand mixer until it is creamy and slaps the sides of the bowl. Scrape your bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of milk and extracts and blend slowly until combined. Raise speed to medium and beat to form a smooth butter mixture.

  • Add half of the powdered sugar and blend on low until combined. Scrape bowl, add the remaining sugar and set the mixer to medium low (speed 2 on a Kitchenaid) and blend for 2-3 minutes.

  • Resist the urge to add more milk right away because the buttercream will thin out as it mixes.

  • After mixing on low for 2-3 minutes you can choose to add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to reach your desired consistency.

  • Scape your bowl and then set the mixture to medium low (speed 2 on a Kitchenaid) and mix for 10 minutes. You may scrape the bowl half way through.

  • Frosting can be made softer with the addition of milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Will keep for 3 days at room temp, or 2 weeks refrigerated.

  • Notes
    Buttercream Variations:

    Add 1/2 cup marshmallow fluff to finished buttercream.

    Stir in a generous amount of chopped oreos for a delicious cookies and cream filling.

    Add up to 1/2 cup of creamy peanut butter to finished buttercream.

    Add 2-3 ounces of melted and cooled bittersweet baking chocolate to finished buttercream.

    Dissolve 2-4 teaspoons of instant espresso powder into your vanilla extract for coffee buttercream. Also works with the melted chocolate for mocha buttercream.

    Eliminate vanilla extract and add up to 2 teaspoons of peppermint, lemon, orange, coconut or almond extracts. You may choose to add a few drops of vanilla just to round off the flavor.

    Other Notes:

    When making this recipe for cakes with a buttercream finish, it is best to double it. This will make a batch of icing that completely fills a 5 quart Kitchenaid mixer bowl. A doubled batch should fill the bowl beyond the beater leaving your resulting icing smooth and fairly free of air bubbles. Adding the liquids before the sugar and mixing only on a low speed prevents the formation of pesky air bubbles that cause problems when trying to frost a buttercream cake smoothly. It is important to mix the icing for the full 10 minutes in the final step. However, if you would prefer a fluffier aerated icing for cupcakes or cakes you can simply raise the mixer speed to medium and beat the icing for 4-5 minutes.

    In warm weather, when piping flowers or peaked designs, consider replacing 25% of the butter with a quality shortening such as Crisco.

    Dan is a superstar in the baking world and not only has been a contestant on the network, but now a judge for many different shows. Recently, he is a judge alongside Martha Stewart and Carla Hall in the show "Bakeaway Camp."

    You can see more of what I have been doing to stay healthy and happy at my Facebook page. or here on the At Home With Adam webpage.
    Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.