Lemon icing rainbow cake recipe

  • Serves 16
  • 30 mins to prepare and 25 mins to cook, 2 hrs 00 mins to cool
  • 449 calories / serving
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This beautifully coloured layer cake is perfect for a child’s birthday party – the bright colours exposing themselves as you cut into the cake. Not only does this bake look impressive, but it’s also simple to make and tastes totally delicious. You can personalise your cake by using food colouring of your choice.

Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, fan160 °C.

Grease and line 3 x 20cm (8in) cake tins. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar, using an electric mixer, until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time, ensuring each one is fully incorporated before continuing. Fold in the flour until just combined. 

Put a clean bowl on a weighing scale and set the weight to 0. Add the cake mixture to get the weight and divide the amount by three. Split the mixture evenly between 3 separate bowls.

Add a few drops of food colouring to each bowl, stirring until you reach the desired shade (the colour will fade slightly once baked, so make sure it’s vibrant). Divide the batter between the prepared baking tins and level the surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tins for 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the lemon icing, beat the softened butter in a bowl until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest and juice until combined. Add the icing sugar, a little at a time until fully incorporated.

To assemble, put the bottom layer of cake on a plate or cake stand. Using a palette knife, spread the sponge with a layer of the icing. Top with a second layer of cake, lightly press down and then spread the jam. Finally, add the third layer of cake. Spread all over with the icing, starting at the top and working down the sides, until completely covered. Serve in slices.

Tip: If you only have two cake tins, cook the third cake after the first two have come out of the oven.  

Freezing and defrosting guidelines

Bake according to the recipe but stop before adding decoration or icing if called for. Allow to cool completely. Wrap well in clingfilm and tin foil (to prevent freezer burn) and freeze for up to 3 months.

Loosen the tin foil and clingfilm but leave to defrost in packaging at room temperature for several hours before serving. If you wish to serve the baked goods warm, place them on a baking sheet for 10 minutes in a moderate oven.

If you wish to add icing or decoration, add them after the baked goods have fully defrosted and are at room temperature.

See more Baking recipes

As part of a healthy balanced diet, we recommend this recipe for a special occasion or treat. 


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  • Ingredients

  • 190g (6 1/2oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 190g (6 1/2oz) caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 190g (6 1/2oz) self-raising flour, sieved
  • yellow food colouring gel
  • blue food colouring gel
  • red food colouring gel
  • 50g (2oz) strawberry jam, or jam flavour of your choice
  • For the lemon icing

  • 250g (8oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 lemons, finely zested, plus 1 tbsp of juice
  • 500g (1lb) icing sugar, sieved
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  • Energy 1880kj 449kcal 22%
  • Fat 24.2g 35%
  • Saturates 13.9g 70%
  • Sugars 47.9g 53%
  • Salt 0.2g 3%

of the reference intake
Carbohydrate 58.7g Protein 2.6g Fibre 0.4g


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