In my house, celebrations always call for cake. It’s my family’s love language. For normal everyday celebrations, I usually bake a simple pound cake. But for birthdays and anniversaries, I love to bake a show-stopping layer cake that really shows how much I care. This ombre cake definitely falls in that category.
An ombre cake isn’t about absolute perfection; it is more about expressing creativity and displaying colors in a beautiful way. Using any of your favorite colors, you can create a cake just like this!
To begin, we start by making our base, which is a vanilla cake batter. The color is much lighter than a yellow cake, which will make it easier to tint the cake batter with any food coloring you like. Begin by mixing butter, shortening and sugar on high speed in your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer with the flat beater attachment until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Next, add eggs and egg whites one at a time to the KitchenAid® 5-Qt. Tilt-Head Ceramic Bowl and beat until well incorporated.
In a separate large bowl, sift cake flour, baking powder and salt together. Turn the Stand Mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in the Stand Mixer and fully incorporate. Finally, add milk and vanilla extract and finish beating on low until everything is just combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl as well.
For this cake, I chose white, orange and hot pink as my colors. Keeping one layer white (which basically means you leave some of your cake batter and your buttercream untinted) helps ease preparation for this cake. Once the cake batter was mixed, I separated the batter equally into three bowls. Using food coloring, I tinted one third of the batter hot pink, tinted another third of the batter orange, and left the last third of the batter alone. Then I added the different batters to the separate KitchenAid® Cake Pans for baking. Bake the cakes in the oven at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Once the cakes were baked, I let them cool completely. While they cooled, I began on my buttercream. My buttercream recipe is super easy and very spreadable which makes a lovely finished product. Simply mix butter and salt in the Ceramic Bowl of your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer on medium speed. Then, turn the Stand Mixer to low and slowly add confectioner’s sugar in small portions until you’ve added all of it. Turn the Stand Mixer to medium high to combine. Add in the heavy cream and vanilla extract and mix until the mixture is nice and fluffy. Once the buttercream is complete, separate the buttercream into three separate bowls, adding more buttercream to the bowl you’re leaving white to add in between the layers and for the crumb coat. Tint the other two bowls the same colors of the previous cake batters. Add a crumb coat all around the cake to make sure it has a smooth final finish. Then set the cake in the refrigerator in order to seal in all the crumbs.
I removed the cake from the refrigerator after about 20-30 minutes so I could get to the super fun part: frosting the cake! To create the ombre icing effect, I simply added the three distinct buttercream colors to the sides of the cake to correspond with the colors of the cake layers. The top layer color will also serve as the top icing of the cake. I carefully used my offset spatula to blend the colors together into a watercolor effect.
Once the icing was smooth and set, I was ready to serve my ombre cake fit for any celebration!
Be sure to share your take on this Vanilla Ombre Cake recipe with us on Instagram using #MadeWithKitchenAid for a chance to be featured.
Vanilla Ombre Cake
Makes 12 servings
For the cake
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg whites
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk, room temperature (or coconut milk)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the buttercream
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare three KitchenAid® Cake Pans with nonstick baking spray and set aside.
In the Ceramic Bowl of your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer, use the flat beater to mix butter, shortening, and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Next, add eggs and egg whites one at a time to the mixing bowl and beat until well incorporated.
In a separate large bowl, sift cake flour, baking powder and salt together. Turn the Stand Mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture to the butter mixer and fully incorporate. Finally, add milk and vanilla extract and finish beating on low until everything is just combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl as well.
Evenly divide the cake mixture into three separate bowls and tint two of the bowls using two distinct colors, leaving one bowl alone. Next add separate batters to each prepared baking pan and place in the oven to bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Make sure not to over bake.
Remove cakes from the oven and let rest in pans for 10 minutes. Then, turn out layers from the Cake Pans and place on cooling racks for one hour.
For the buttercream
In the Ceramic Bowl of your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer, beat butter and salt at medium low speed.
Next turn the Stand Mixer down to low and slowly add confectioner’s sugar in small portions until all is added. Then turn the speed to medium high to combine.
Add heavy cream and vanilla extract, and mix until nice and fluffy.
Divide the buttercream into three separate bowls. One bowl should have approximately 2/3 of the buttercream and should be left white. The other two bowls should have approximately 1/6 of the buttercream each and should be tinted to match your two colored layers of cake.
Begin by placing the lightest (or darkest, depending on your preference) layer of cake on a cake decorating turntable. Coat the cake layer with plain white buttercream. Repeat with all layers ending with the darkest layer (or the lightest if you started with the darkest layer). Then apply a thin coating of the plain buttercream to the outside of the entire cake to create a crumb coat. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes or until the icing is set.
Now for the ombre effect: Carefully add icing in corresponding colors to the layers on the sides of the cake with an offset spatula. Add the top layer’s colored buttercream to the top of the cake as well. This process doesn’t have to be perfect.
Once all colors are on the cake, you can begin smoothing out the icing. Using your offset spatula, hold it perpendicular to the turntable and go around the sides of the cake while spinning your turntable. Continue to do this until the sides of your cake are as smooth as you would like. Make sure you also use your spatula to smooth the top of your cake as well.
Have fun with this. Pipe designs on the top of your cake or use sprinkles to add more color, then serve and enjoy!
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*