Rainbow Victoria sponge

The Birthday Cake Book
Laura Edwards

All the fun of the fair! Every single crumb of this cake is really colourful, as I’ve turned the Victoria sponge into a rainbow cake. If you feel you would rather make a plain sponge, simply omit the colouring. The poles and horses need to be made a day or so ahead; stick the horses on to the poles the day before too.

For the cake


Quantity Ingredient
225g unsalted butter, really soft, diced, plus more for the tins
red food colour paste
orange food colour paste
yellow food colour paste
green food colour paste
blue food colour paste
purple food colour paste
225g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, lightly beaten
225g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the buttercream

Quantity Ingredient
250g unsalted butter, softened
250g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To decorate

Quantity Ingredient
2kg white sugarpaste
lilac food colour paste
icing sugar, to dust
8 small silver dragees
60 g bag white royal icing, fitted with no. 1 nozzle
1 stick rock
1 pot pearlised sugar pearls

Special equipment

Quantity Ingredient
20 cm round cake board
30 cm round cake drum
1.5 cm star cutter
6 cm horse template or cutter
8 30 cm white dowelling rods
double-sided sticky tape
24 cm circle stiff white card

For the ribbons

Quantity Ingredient
ribbons of your choice, (see note)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 170°C. Butter two 20 cm round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment. Have ready six little bowls, six cocktail sticks and six teaspoons, and all the food colour paste pots open.
  2. I use an electric mixer and beater attachment to make this, but you could use a food processor, or a bowl and hand-held whisk. Sift the flour and baking powder into the bowl, add the butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla. Beat until well blended, but don’t over-mix.
  3. Now, divide the batter between the six bowls and add enough food colour to each to make a red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. This may seem complicated, but it isn’t. Place the cake batter in one cake tin at a time. Start by dolloping two-thirds of the red right into the centre of one tin. Next take a little less of the orange and place in the centre on top of the red, then the yellow, green, blue and finally purple, which is the smallest amount. There is no need to swirl the colours together... just believe me! The batter should spread to the edges of the tins when baked, but you can spread it very slightly now, if you wish. Repeat with the second tin, but this time start with the remaining purple cake batter, the remaining blue, green, yellow, orange and finally the red in the centre which is the smallest amount. You now have two tins with the rainbow colours in reverse.
  4. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a skewer emerges clean. Remove from the oven, and after a couple of minutes run a knife around the rim of each cake and turn them out on to a wire rack. Remove the papers and leave to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Beat the butter with an electric whisk for up to five minutes, until really pale. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat for another five minutes, until really light and fluffy.
  6. To decorate: Set aside 250 g sugarpaste, and colour the rest deep lilac. When the cakes are cold, level the tops. Take the 20 cm cake board, spread on a little buttercream and place one of the cakes on to it. Spread buttercream on the top and place on the other cake, flat side up. Cover the top and sides with the remaining buttercream.
  7. On a work surface dusted with icing sugar, take half the lilac sugarpaste and roll out to 30 cm round and 5 mm thick. Roll loosely around the rolling pin and ease over the cake. Rub with your hands until smooth, and cut off the excess. Any remaining clean sugarpaste can be stored with the rest of the lilac sugarpaste. Mix in more of the lilac food colour, to cover the drum and make the lilac diamonds. Dust the 30 cm drum with icing sugar and sprinkle with water. On a work surface dusted with icing sugar, roll out the deep lilac sugarpaste to 3 mm thick and larger than the drum. Wrap around the rolling pin and lift on to the drum. Smooth, and trim the excess. (Cut stars from the offcuts as well as from tiny pieces of sugarpaste in different colours; reserve the rest.) Roll out the white sugarpaste to 5 mm thick. Cut out eight horses. Stick a dragee eye on each with royal icing.
  8. Cut the dowelling rods and stick of rock to 19 cm long. Wind 60 cm ribbon around each pole, securing with tape and stopping where the pole goes into the cake. The poles support the dome, so make sure they are level! Stick the horses to the poles at different heights with royal icing. Stick ribbon bows and sugarpaste stars on the horses and dry flat. To assemble, place the rock in the centre of the cake and the poles all around. Cut a slit to the centre of the cardboard circle, make a dome, and tape the seam. Using tape, stick the gingham ribbon around the drum. Attach the ric-rac ribbon around the dome. Wind the satin ribbon through a hole at the top and make 10 strips of ribbon over the dome. Top with a white sugarpaste ball.
  9. Re-roll the reserved white and darker lilac sugarpaste to 2 mm thick. With a knife cut into 2 cm wide strips, then cut at an angle to form diamonds. I made 16 lilac and 16 white. Allow all decorations to dry out for an hour or two. Attach the white and lilac diamonds around the cake with royal icing and place four sugar pearls between each.

This is what I used:

  • 480 cm of 3 mm-wide ribbon for poles, plus 12 cm per bow (I used 8 different colours); 1 metre of 1.5 cm-wide purple gingham ribbon, for the drum; 1 metre of 1 cm-wide ric-rac ribbon; 2.5 metres of 1.5 cm-wide lilac satin ribbon.
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