Introduction: Checkerboard Rainbow Cake (Pinterest Fail)

About: Fiber mad woman living in the mountains. Creativity is the ultimate rebellion.Trying to Roller Derby for my life. I'm into sericulture and hypertufa. Love fiber arts, sewing, quilting, cooking, writing. Some o…

I wrote this instructable the night before I made my cake thinking everything was going to go just peachy! All I needed was to get some pictures to go with it, and I am golden! Little did I know my own ultimate humiliation would culminate into brand new lows in the process of making this seemingly 'a done deal' cake. I couldn't have been more wrong! Proceed, if you dare. Another Pinterest fail awaits your appropriate disdain.

Looks like a plain white cake from the outside! Cut it open and BLAMMO it's a blasted rainbow! Not just any rainbow either! Checkerboard rainbow! Wow! This is better than Froot Loops! Unbutton your suspenders! You won't need pants for this job!

Surprise yourself and your party guests with this easy to make rainbow checkerboard cake! You don't need fancy pans or tools just basic baking equipment you may already have in your kitchen. Even an amateur baker can make this complex looking, colorful cake with ease. Like anything worthwhile, it just takes a little planning. When I first seen it, made into a lumberjack cake, I had to try to figure out how to make it! I think it is an amazingly simple way to have a flamboyant outcome!

So, I found a checkerboard cake maker at a yard sale last weekend. I decided to take on the challenge and try to make one of these cakes since they come out so cute. But it looks like so much work! After doing some research, I found out this cake can be easily made without special pans! I could have saved $2. Oh well! It did make me interested enough in this unique cake to explore the technique further.

Step 1: Choose Your Color Pattern

I told myself, I said, self, the road to success is thru thorough planning. So I sat down and started playing with the color variations. I was sure to nail this thing down just right-maybe even better since I planned it so well! Oh boy, did I make a mistake thinking that way! Oohhchie mama!

The first step to me making this cake was to sit down with some colored pencils. I drew out 3 by 3 squares and filled them in with different color sequences until I found the rainbow pattern that was most pleasing. It took me about 10 trys for me to come up with one pattern to use. I was in the zone.

I really wanted to accentuate the rainbow pattern for this instructable. But you could use just 2 colors or 3 colors and make a flag design, letters or other interesting variations of colors like Neapolitan. If you aren't crazy about using food color, you can use chocolate and white cake for brown & white checkers or white cake and red velvet for red & white. You can also do just 3 layers instead of 6 if you use less color variations. If you have the checkerboard cake pan set, you can do all 6 rainbow colors in just 3 layers by piping in all the different colors into the partitions in the built in pan. But this is about making it w/o the pan since it can easily be made fine without it!

Step 2: PRO TIPS Pan Prep

Like a lamb to slaughter. Nothing knocks you down faster than thinking you have it all figured out before figuring it all out!What maroon! What an ignoranimus!

Nothing makes removing cake from the pan easier than using parchment paper. Your cake will never stick again!

Trace the bottom of your pan onto parchment paper. Use this as a pattern by folding it in half and cutting in on the fold of the parchment paper. Once I had my circles, I readied the pans for baking.

Optional-If you have some rose nails- these are the large topped nail like tool used to make frosting roses on, insert one thru the bottom of the parchment paper with the head flat on the bottom of the pan and the nail up. This distributes heat thru the center of the cake making it cook more evenly and level.

If you are making the cake in the Checkerboard square pan designed for this cake, put each color of cake batter in a separate Ziploc baggie and pipe it into the pan for best results. Have someone help you with this part by holding down the pan form so the batter doesn't seep into one another and destroy all your chances of pulling this stunt drive cake off (as you will soon see).

Step 3: Start Your Recipes

I was fail safe! I used eggs my chickens had laid fresh from the nest. I shook the canned milk as directed. I had real cake flour! I should have realized when I got started and didn't have any baking powder that things were going to go awry. It was an omen. If I had only listened. Why!? WHY!? I couldn't even imagine how bad it would go!

I used a basic cake recipe but you can also use boxed cake mix too. If you've never made a cake from scratch, you are really missing out on a simple pleasure!

If using boxed mixes you might want to add 1/4 - 1/2 cup flour to make sure the cake is dense enough to cut and stack. Some boxed cakes are very delicate to work with and you may have limited success cutting and stacking them for the checkerboard effect.You want a non-crumbly type cake.

Spoon batter into zip lock bags to pipe into forms if using the checkerboard cake pan. Otherwise, color each batch of batter in equal portions of 3 for each batch in their own bowls. Pour into prepared pans and bake as directed on box.

Powdered chocolate can also be used to color batter brown. If you don't have food coloring, dry, powdered Kool-aid drink mix can be added to batter to impart color and flavor. If you don't like using food coloring, beet or carrot juice can be used. Turmeric spice can also be used to impart a beautiful yellow/orange color.

You will need 2 batches of the recipe of your choice.

Rainbow Checkerboard Cake

You will need to use 3, 6-inch cake pans and make the batter recipe twice.

First three 6-inch cake layers

2 1/2 cups / 320g all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 cup / 8.2 oz. can evaporated milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons flavor extract (lemon, lime, orange -pick your favorite)

12 tablespoons / 169g butter

1 1/2 cups / 300g granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon each red, yellow & orange gel food color

Preheat oven 350F. Grease and flour sides only of 3, six-inch round cake pans. Put parchment and rose nails in bottom of pan, if you haven't already. Grease nails so they don't stick. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, and baking soda in a medium bowl.

Stir together milk, vinegar, eggs and flavor extract; set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add 1/3 of the flour to the butter mixture and mix on low speed. Add 1/2 the liquid mixture, mix well on low speed. Alternate the remaining flour and liquid, ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter evenly into thirds in separate bowls. Color each batter with the red, yellow & orange food coloring. Pour into prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pans, then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely. Level cakes with a cake leveler or serrated knife. If you used rose nails, you probably can skip the leveling part. The rose nails expertly distribute the heat to the center of the cake, baking it almost perfectly flat and perfect! Once completely cool wrap the cakes in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to firm, about 1 hour.

For the next three 6-inch cake layers, prepare another cake batter recipe, as a you did before.

Divide the batter evenly into thirds and tint each bowl of batter with the blue, green and violet gel food color. Bake as directed. Cool, level and refrigerate. If you place them in the refrigerator to chill, they will be easier to cut into circles for your checkerboard pattern.

Step 4: The Magic Squares Come From Cutting Circles!

Oh how naive I was writing this out before actually doing the project! You will see my arrogance and cocksure attitude below! If only I would have followed my own instructable, I wouldn't be in this position. Awkward!

Now for the part that they experts want you to think you need special pans for but you don't! Use this simple guideline to complete the magic of this stunning cake!

For 6-inch cake layers, your circle template guides will be a 4-inches and a 2-inches. Use a can with the top and bottom remove for the 4" size and a cookie cutter or a glass for the 2" size. Place the cookie cutter straight down onto the center of the cake and make a cut out circle. If using a can, use the same cookie cutter technique. If you are cutting around a 4 inch dish, or paper pattern, be sure and keep your knife cut perpendicular, cut up and down, so the checkerboard squares stay square.

Each circle piece will need a smear of icing on the outer edge before being reassembled with the other circles, to help hold it all together.

Stack your colors according to the color sketch you laid out previously. Lightly press the layers together to make a uniform piece.

Step 5: Frosting Recipe

Look at it! LOOK AT IT! I'm half the person I use to be from making this cake. If I wasn't aggravated enough before, I really am now! GRRR...

Frosting is easy to make and so superior to the store bought stuff. I always take the little bit of extra time to make homemade frosting. It makes all the difference from a good cake to a great cake!

I wanted a white butter cream frosting to top off this beautiful and colorful cake. You will want to put some frosting in between each of the layers when you go to stack them and spread frosting slightly over the sides so there are less gaps to fill when you frost the sides. If you have a lazy Susan, place your cake on this to spin it around and help get a uniform covering of frosting as you frost the sides. Use a flat edge knife to smooth the icing flat.

Quick and easy buttercream frosting


1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons milk


Cream room temperature butter with a hand mixer, the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, or a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy. Gradually beat in confectioners' sugar until fully incorporated. Beat in vanilla extract. Pour in milk and beat for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add food coloring, if using, and beat for thirty seconds until smooth or until desired color is reached.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Look how smug I was! I thought I was going to have a complete and beautiful cake to show you at this point! ARGH! The inhumanity! Don't look at me! Look away!

Honestly, this cake doesn't need much more in the area of decorating. You could add some rainbow jimmies, or confectionery star sprinkles if you want. Or top it off with some tie-dye frosting roses. You could make a rainbow arch across the top using M&M's or Skiddles. Or leave it plain and let the inside color be the feature focus. I want to leave my plain, I think.

Step 7: Taste the Rainbow! Slice and Awe!

Oh yeah, this was going to be the 'wow your socks off' moment! A real show stopper! You were going to look twice, then again and be amazed. Slice and Awe! How can one person be so clever and such a failure at the same time!? I was basking in the all geometric glory of this unnatural, checkerboard cake. Look what I've done. Oh, the humiliation. How will I ever live this one down? Art fails. Hold me for a moment/Hold me if you can/Hold me just a second/In the face of all I am/Damned


Use a serrated knife to cut the cake! Place the cake laying down on it's side on the plate to keep it from toppling over! This is a tall cake with 6 layers! Admire your handiwork by putting forkfuls into your mouth If you made it from scratch, it's hard to go wrong and it is going to be good!

If you are feeling real creative, you could flavor each color differently-lemon for the yellow, orange for the orange, peppermint for the green, coconut for the purple, imitation rum for the blue.

This cake is sure to wow and be a show stopper! Everyone will wonder how you did it! The Rainbow Checkerboard cake is sure to be a hit and make your guest or birthday person feel very special.

Actually the cake is kinda, sorta o.k. looking and pretty like a sunset if you don't worry about being all lopsided and no checkerboard and stuff.

Rainbow Contest 2016

Participated in the
Rainbow Contest 2016