Making a rainbow checkerboard cake

Just in case you missed it, my youngest son just turned 5.

A few weeks before the big day I saw this awesome cake someone had shared on Facebook by Elise Strachan from My Cupcake Addiction. Elise is a Gold Coast mum of two with a very successful YouTube channel (just a modest 13 million views per month thank you very much). Her love of cupcakes and all things ‘sweety’ led to the launch of her how-to style YouTube channel in 2011 and it’s been going great guns ever since.

The video I saw on Facebook was timelapse and made this cake look relatively easy.

How hard could it be, right?

I didn’t bother to check out the actual tutorial on either the My Cupcake Addiction website or YouTube channel (um, stupid) and just went by the super fast video I had seen (and then shared on Facebook, to save and refer back to). Because, you know, I had done one of these rainbow cakes before and thought this one can’t be much harder (um, stupider – I know that’s not a word, it’s for effect).

The party was on a Sunday so I cooked the cakes Friday night and assembled and decorated Saturday.

The first step was to make the cakes. I used two Greens Buttercake packet mixes – yep packet cakes. I made the first cake and roughly (and I mean roughly) divided the batter into three separate bowls. I chose to buy three small pie tins so I could cook three colours (one whole packet cake) at a time. I think the tins were about 20cm x 5cm. I greased and lined each tin with baking paper.

rainbow checkerboard cake

With the first cake mix I made a red, orange and yellow batter and poured them into the tins.

rainbow checkerboard cake

I repeated this process with the second packet cake and coloured them green, blue and purple.

rainbow checkerboard cake

After this, I had six different coloured cakes. So far so good.

Rainbow Checker Board Cake

Once I got to this stage I was pretty happy. The cakes all looked good and the colours had turned out nice and bright like I wanted. They hadn’t risen very much but this was ok because they had to stack on top of each other so the flatter the better. To be honest I didn’t want to go any further because I knew the next bit would make or break the cake (Dr Seuss moment).

Saturday morning. Now it was time to cut the three concentric circles from each cake. I had a few issues with this because I could find the right size cutters. The only circular cutters I could find were cookie cutters which didn’t have a big enough size for the outside circle.

Little did I know this cake had broken the internet and everyone was making it.

When I went to the local homewares shop – which has everything, it’s huge – and asked for some circular cutters, the shop assistant said “Oh are you making that checkerboard cake? Some other ladies are just using different sized tins”. Surprisingly I was kind of shocked that I wasn’t original and I just explained I already had three tins and I would take the cookie cutters and work something out. That something included searching my kitchen for a round object of the exact size for the outer ring – enter small glass bowl. I placed the glass bowl on top of the first cake and carefully cut around it with a knife. The middle circle was easy, I used one of the cookie cutters. I repeated this with all six cakes and was left with the rings and small circles – see the picture below.

rainbow checkerboard cake

The middle ring was a little thicker than I wanted but all-in-all I was happy. Little did I know the stress level was about to peak with the next few steps. According to the super fast video I saw on Facebook the next step was to put some icing on the inner edges of the rings. I had bought packet mix butter icing which was really thick and when I spread it on the cut cake (inner edges) the cake kind of crumbled away.

I have to say this was one of the most stressful parts.

rainbow checkerboard cake

I tried piping the icing on, I tried using a knife, I even held the cake rings upright like a tyre, that was until some of the bigger/outer ones started breaking. During this bit I started sweating and mildly freaking out, but I kept going, the party was tomorrow and I needed to have a cake. So I placed the different coloured rings into each other – see picture below – to make six ‘complete’ cakes.

rainbow checkerboard cake

I was ready to stack.

It was here I knew I had a bit of a problem. The cakes weren’t as even as they were before because of the different heights of each different coloured cake and the edges were a lot thinner than the middle of the cakes. Looking back I probably should have ‘shaved’ the top of each cake at this stage so they were all flat and even. I thought that the icing might compensate and fill in those edge areas. But here comes my biggest fail… because the butter icing was so thick before I thinned it down a bit – BIG mistake. I iced the top of the base layer and placed the next layer on top and so on and so on…..

rainbow checkerboard cake

The icing was too thin and started oozing out the sides – PANIC. I made another icing batch, this time I used the icing that came with the Greens Buttercake packet mix. It was a bit thicker and I used this on the last two layers. Neither icing filled in the edges but I hoped once I iced the top and outside edges of the cake this might not be as noticeable. My son loves Captain America and the Avengers so I thought I would make Captain America’s shield to put on top of the cake { oh god why do I do this to myself }. I used white ready to roll icing (yes another packet mix thing) and cut out a white circle and then cut out an outer ring that I painted with red food colouring. I cut out a smaller circle which I painted red and a smaller one that I painted blue and finally cut out a white star. Once the food colouring had dried on the painted pieces I put it all together. The outer red ring stretched and started to break but I managed to save it.

I was exhausted, and I still had the birthday party tomorrow.

The Avengers cake

In the end I was happy with the cake and it looked ok. Little L loved it and he was very excited about his party tomorrow. Now I started to worry what the cake actually looked like inside because I wasn’t going to find out until we cut it AT THE PARTY….

Captain America Birthday Cake

The party was great, everyone had a blast, then the moment of truth arrived, time for the birthday cake.

rainbow checkerboard

Woo Hoo!! I was super happy that it looked like the one in the super fast video I had seen on Facebook. The look on Little L’s face was priceless and worth all the freaking out and panic attacks. Maybe next time I attempt one of these creations I should probably look at the full tutorial and not just the super fast video on Facebook.

Rainbow checkerboard cake

Have you tried to make this cake? How did you go?

My other two children (boy and girl) both have birthdays in the next two months so hit me with some ideas – I’m up for another challenge!

Love Mummahh

You Might Also Like...