Pink Ombre Birthday Cake
recipe from Chatelaine, tips from Java Cupcake
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
pink gel food colouring
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups icing sugar
1/4 cup milk
pink gel food colouring
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3 8-in. round cake pans* and line bottoms with parchment.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a
separate bowl, cream softened butter together with granulated sugar using a hand mixer. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla. Add one-third of flour mixture, then add half the milk. Repeat, ending with flour mixture.
Divide batter into 3 bowls (about 1 1/3 cup each). Set 1 portion aside (do not colour). Using a toothpick or cake tester, add a tiny amount of gel food colouring to one bowl, and slightly more to the third bowl. Add more, bit by bit, until desired colours are reached. Pour each into a cake pan.
Bake in centre of oven until a cake tester inserted in centre of cakes comes out clean, about 16-18 minutes. Cool in pans on a rack for 10 min, then turn cakes out onto rack. Remove parchment. Cool completely, about 30 min.
Cream 1 cup butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium. Add 1 tsp vanilla and 1 cup icing sugar. Beat for 1 min. Reduce speed and beat in remaining sugar in 3 parts, alternating with milk (in 2 parts) and ending with sugar. Beat on medium-high, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until fluffy and smooth, 1 to 2 min.
Assemble cake by setting the darkest pink layer on a cake stand. Spread with 1/2 cup icing. Continue with remaining layers and icing, with white layer on top. Spread a thin layer of icing on sides and top of cake. This is called the crumb coat, and makes the ombre icing easier to apply. Refrigerate until icing is firm, about 15 min.
Divide remaining icing into 3 bowls. Set 1 portion aside (do not colour). Using a toothpick or cake tester, add a tiny amount of gel food colouring to one bowl, and slightly more to the third bowl. Add more, bit by bit, until desired colours are reached. Spread the darkest pink icing around the bottom half of the cake. Spread the next-darkest shade of icing on the top half. Spread white icing on top of the cake. With a spatula or icing knife, smooth the side of the cake, slightly merging the two colours of pink icing. Smooth the top white icing over the edges, merging slightly with the lighter pink icing.
*Original recipe calls for 4 round 6in pans, and 4 colours of cake and icing. I couldn't find any 6in pans, so used 3 9 in pans. If you are hoping for a big splashy sort of cake, I would recommend doubling the recipe as my cake layers came out quite thin.