Ombre Cake

It’s my oldest son’s birthday next week (cue the panic; he’ll be 3! That makes me old!) and I’ve been making “practice runs” of cake baking before the big day. Everyone does that, right?! Right?! I’m not the only one who obsesses over trying to make things perfect, I know it. It’s been a crazy year for him- we’ve moved from our apartment to a house, his little brother was born, we’re all stumbling around sleep deprived… So I wanted to make his birthday special this year. It’s the day before Thanksgiving, so we’ll be celebrating with family at Thanksgiving, but it was still important to me to make this year’s birthday fun and full of Thomas the Tank Engine stuff. He’s obsessed with Thomas and he wants cupcakes and a cake. I was thinking of making an ombre cake with blues for the main cake and red velvet cupcakes with white and blue buttercream frostings for the cupcakes. That covers the red and blue for Thomas colors. Because it’s also Thanksgiving, half of the red velvet cupcakes will have cream cheese frosting and fall harvest decorations.

For my practice cake below, I used my white cake recipe (not sharing it lol; it’s my secret recipe but it’s basically buttermilk instead of milk, egg whites instead of whole eggs and clear vanilla extract) and I used Wilton gel coloring in Royal Blue for the first three layers. To get the navy blue bottom layer, I added in a tiny trace of Wilton gel color in Classic Red.

I made a regular amount of white cake batter, sorted it into 4 bowls with equal amounts of batter and added differing amounts of the gel color. It was mostly trial and error how much to use, other than a tiny bit is all that’s needed for pretty vibrant colors. I poured them into 4 prepared cake pans that are only 0.5 inch in height and filled it about 2/3 full. I baked them for 12 minutes because of being so thin, turned them out on to a wire rack to cool and popped the cakes in the freezer to cool completely

Look at all that smurfy deliciousness!

Look at all that smurfy deliciousness!

Once they were cool (about 30 min) I took them out and began frosting them with vanilla buttercream frosting, starting with the navy blue layer on the bottom. I stacked all 4 layers, then frosted the outside and smoothed it out with a frosting comb.

Here is a slice so you can see the gradient effect. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out!


I’ll be sure and post pics of the finished product on his birthday :)

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