Gluten Free Rainbow Birthday Cake

We’re on. It’s cake time.

Finally! The post you’ve been waiting for. The one I neglected in order to write this and this. Ah, relief. No more deep thoughts (for now).

So. Roll up your sleeves, because it’s going to get messy. And time consuming. And kind of pricey. Also, seriously unhealthy. It’s time for…

gf rainbow cake special

Your hands will get dirty, or, at the very least, dyed a vivid pink hue not found in nature. If my daughter could dye all of her food this color, she totally would:

Upper left corner. The best color ever.

Upper left corner. The best color ever.

The seed for a rainbow layer cake began over a year ago when I saw this gorgeous concoction on April Peveteaux’s fab site, Gluten Is My Bitch. I had NO idea such a thing existed, but apparently it was big on Pinterest back then. I was intrigued, but scared. Seemed like a LOT of work. So I stuck with a simple (ish) but decadent double chocolate cake for Bunky’s 5th birthday party. It was gluten, nut, egg free, and AWESOME.

fifth gluten free bday cake

But this year I was ready. A kick-ass rainbow cake seemed a perfect match for Bunky’s art-themed party and my rainbow loving girl.

Gluten Free Rainbow Birthday (or any day) Cake

What You Need:

  • 3 boxes of gluten free cake mix (I used Cherrybrook Farms Yellow Cake mix) – plus whatever mix-ins it requires: oil, eggs, etc.
  • 2-3 circular cake pans, springform is easier but not totally necessary, I used 10-inch but could use 8-inch for a smaller circular cake
  • approximately 6 containers* of Betty Crocker or Duncan Heinz vanilla frosting, or homemade if you prefer, or for dairy free try this recipe
  • AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color – I bought the junior kit on amazon, but you can really use whatever dye you’d like, but the gel color is REALLY vivid. Also, this brand is gluten AND nut free (and kosher), woo hoo!
  • parchment paper or nonstick spray or butter to grease pans (I used spray with our springform pans, but if you’re using regular cake pans I would suggest lining them with parchment AND greasing to make sure you can get those skinny cakes out)
  • help in the form of childcare, partner support, and/or sous chefs, maybe some wine
  • patience of a saint doesn’t hurt

* When it comes to buying tubs of frosting, you can get a combo of the Whipped Vanilla kind, which is great to spread over the finished and assembled cake stack. But for in between each layer, we suggest using Regular Vanilla because the Whipped texture might be too airy and squishy to go between. You don’t want the layers to collapse together. My sous chef husband pointed this out and he was totally right. Thanks honey.

Getting It Done:

1. Prepare cake pans by spraying and/or lining them. If you’re not using springforms, line with parchment and grease. If using springform, nonstick spray or butter liberally.

2. Preheat oven and then prepare the THREE box mixes as directed. I started with only two Cherrybrook Farm mixes (why I followed the gluten Betty Crocker recipe and not April’s is beyond me) and divided them up into 6 bowls, weighed them with my kitchen scale (yes, I’m an anal dork), dyed the crap out of them, before realizing it wasn’t enough to cover the bottom of my 10-inch cake pans. So, I had to send my husband out for another box. Do yourself a favor and buy three boxes upfront unless you get secret pleasure out of making your partner run extra errands. No judgement here.

3. Divide into 6 bowls (or how many layers you want). Like I said above, I used a kitchen scale because you want each layer to be the same size, but you could also just use measuring cups.

bday cake prep

4. Here’s the fun part: adding color! A little squeeze of gel goes a long way, so be warned. Bunky and I both loved the hot pink. Little Guy went nuts over the blue and green.

My adorable little baking assistant.

Behold my adorable little baking assistant.

bday cake prep bunky

5. Start the cooking process. I had six cake pans, but we cooked two at a time (in 3 separate sessions) because our oven cooks unevenly on the different racks. If you can squeeze in three, go for it. But use your discretion. My sous chef, aka Husband, did the dirty work here. He spread the batter in the pans and was in charge of the cooking, cooling, and releasing.

Rainbow cakes take a village. Or at least a helpful husband.

Rainbow cakes take a village. Or a helpful husband.

We cooked ours for about 6-7 minutes (it’s a thin cake, remember) but our oven is like Hades hot, so again, you may want to check your cakes starting at 6 minutes but it could take a bit longer. Don’t overcook, though, because that takes away a bit of color.

And please make sure the cakes are FULLY cooled before releasing or (gently) prying them out. You don’t want to damage the goods.

bday cake cooling

Cooked cakes just chilling by the windowsill.

6. Now for assembly. Again, my sous chef was in charge here. He likes doing the detail work and I like when he does it. But the birthday girl was the cake designer, with very specific instructions as to the order of colors. She went against the whole ROY G BIV color scheme which I know made my (OCD) husband a bit nuts, but hey, it was her day.

bunky cake designer

Like I mentioned earlier, we used a combo of Whipped and Regular Vanilla frosting. Regular for between the layers, and Whipped for the outer layer (because it goes on smoother and faster).

Taken before the final frost. My husband was out buying MORE tubs. Srsly.

This pic was taken before the final frost. My husband was out buying MORE. Srsly.

7. Then top that sucker with whatever you want – we went for an easy and crowd pleasing route: sprinkles.

bday sprinkles

But you could try this gorgeous insanity that I contemplated for about twenty seconds:

makdoodle rainbow cake

But seriously, sprinkles are a sure thing. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Unless you want to.

Finished product, please excuse the candle indentations.

Finished product. Please ignore the candle indentations. Forgot to take a pic with them.

The cake was a HUGE success, and so was the very sweet art party. But let’s talk about the cake!

gluten free rainbow cake slice

Every kid devoured it. Even the one boy who told me ahead of time that he doesn’t like cake. I promised that I wouldn’t make him eat it. But when he saw it he gestured me over. “I’ll take a small piece,” he said. And then he ate the entire thing, crumbs included.

Cake anticipation!

Cake anticipation! Everyone is very excited.

My sweet 6 year old birthday girl. It was a wonderful party.

Our six year old birthday girl.

bunky eating cake

Little Guy inhaled his entire slice.

It was a great party.

Me and my girl. (And Little Guy’s legs.) It was a great party.

bunky artHappy Birthday to my dear girl, who loved decorating her butterfly wings surrounded by her friends. She is growing her own secret wings, and one day she will fly away from me, but not yet.

opening gifts


Shared on the fabulous Vegetarian Mamma’s Gluten Free Friday link up. Click the badge below for more awesome GF recipes and tidbits.

gf friday badge

Maple Walnut Balls (with Fairies + one Caterpillar)

ball shot

Is the ball thing getting old? You can tell me, really. I won’t get upset. Okay, I might get a teeny bit upset, but I promise not to take it personally. You wouldn’t be the only one. My husband is definitely over my balls. (If you have no idea what I mean head over to the recipe page.)

Actual conversation with him the night I posted my second official ball recipe:

Me: [hovering over him while he is attempting to watch Netflix on his iPad] I’m about to post a new recipe!

Him: [not bothering to look up from screen] Uh-huh. 

Me: [very excited, but still speaking in a whisper since kids are sleeping] Blueberry Granola balls! [emphasis on the balls, obvs]

Him: [finally tearing away eyes from screen, looking thoughtful] You know, you don’t have to call them balls. You could call them “bites.” 

Me: [shaking my head vigorously, smiling a little at his naivete] Everyone in the world [i.e. Pinterest] is doing that, which is WHY I’m calling them balls! Brilliant, right? 

Then, three ball recipes later…

Him: Are you ever going to be done with the whole ‘ball’ thing?

Me: NEVER! [insert maniacal laughter, in whisper form, here]

So you see, I’m rather attached to the ball thing, but not out of love as much as comfort. I’m not an intuitive baker, like some of my blogging friends, and I’m a Cancer, which means I’m a creature of habit (not to mention a total homebody) so when I get the hang of something, well, I have a little problem letting it go. But you’ll tell me, won’t you? I’m relying on your instincts here.

Until then, here’s my latest batch of balls posing with a fairy. Just for fun. Because how many pictures of balls can you look at before dying of boredom?

fairy balls

Maple Walnut Balls


  • 1 cup dates cut in half and soaked in water to soften up (drain before adding)
  • 1/2 cup cashews (I used raw unsalted)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8-1/4 cup coconut flakes or finely ground coconut (which is what I used)
  • dash of cinnamon


*If you want the nuts more finely ground (for a smoother ball), process them first, remove and set aside, and then add them back in after dates have been pulverized. Otherwise, ignore this and start with the dates, as instructed below.

Put softened dates in the food processor and whirl around. Add the rest of the ingredients until just combined.

Random but important note: the dough should not be too dry or too wet (thus the varying amount of coconut flakes) – if too wet, add a bit more coconut. If too dry, add a 1/2 teaspoon (at a time) more maple syrup.

You really can’t mess these up… unless you’re me (!) and you get a little cocky with your ball making and add TOO much wet and not enough dry and your balls never really firm up – even in the freezer. (Who knew that was even possible?! Must have been the extra 1/2 teaspoon of melted coconut oil I originally added, then later removed from the recipe.)

Take heart though, soft balls are STILL tasty.

In other (random) news, check out this awesome terrarium!


Bunky made it at a birthday party over the weekend. It’s a pretty brilliant idea. The kids got to dig into vats of small slippery stones, soft damp dirt, pick three plants and then “decorate” their creation with pretty rocks, marbles, and creatures. B chose fairies and butterflies over centipedes and dinosaurs, big surprise. All the kids had a blast doing it.

My (failed) attempt at an "artsy"  shot with my phone.

My (failed) attempt at an “artsy” shot with my phone.

The crafty mom (of four!) also made a beautiful Hungry Little Caterpillar themed cake – she told me about it ahead of time and I was just going to attempt to “draw” a caterpillar on a cupcake, but my husband waved me aside and took over. He rocked it. Everyone was amazed and Bunky was thrilled.


GF happiness on a plate.

What the hell has he been doing on the dessert sidelines all this time?! He is totally in charge of the next birthday.