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Rainbow Cake for Family Day

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Withour newest stat holiday - Family Day - almost upon us, it inspiresreflection on years past, in particular, childhood memories involving family. Not involving Family Day, of course; in the olden days we had to make special times on regular days.

My earliest memories involving ‘baking in the family kitchen’ were with my nanny, Doris, making play dough and Rainbow Cake.

Rainbow Cake was a fabulous thing. I must have only been about 5 or 6 years old at the time, so the details are hazy. But in essence, it was a white batter sheet cake (probably from a mix), and just before we put the pan into the oven, we would add a few drops of food colouring and Doris would fold it in gently with a spatula. When it came out of the oven, my little brother Darren and I were always delighted for the Big Reveal: a marbling of rainbow colours woven through the cake.

Maybe Rainbow Cake wasn’t the most wholesome recipe, but thinking about it brings back happy memories of Doris, who was pretty much part of our family.

Now, I think I’m pretty relaxed about treats in my house, but I would prefer not to squirt liberal quantities of artificial food colouring into cake that my children will be ingesting. For this reason, and because it really isn’t that much more work to make a white cake from scratch, I’ve included a modified version of Rainbow Cake for a more 'toxin-conscious’ Family Day treat.

Rainbow Cake (wheat-free, adapted from Wholefood for Children by Jude Blereau, Classic Butter Cake p.296)

  • 260g white spelt flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened; plus extra for greasing
  • 170g golden raw/demerara sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • ¼-½ cup milk
  • 3-4 colours natural food dye drops (such as India Tree, or if you really want to go for it, make your own concentrated dyes with beets, carrots, spinach etc in your juicer

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease the base and side of a 8.5-inch round cake tin and line with parchment paper. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl and set aside. Using electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. If the mix begins to split and look curdled, place the mixing bowl in a little warm water for a few minutes, warming the butter enough to absorb the eggs. Add the vanilla and beat well. Add sifted flour mixture and ¼ cup of milk and fold in slowly. Beat until smooth and well-blended. Only add the extra milk if the mix is very heavy (will depend on how much bran & germ is in the flour). Spoon into the tin. Add a few drops of dye to the surface of the batter, then gently fold the mix several times - just enough to marble the colouring but not enough to blend it all together. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Ice if you like with whatever frosting you want…or don’t! Rainbow cake doesn’t need icing to be fun. Enjoy! - Dee


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