This year’s Pride celebration coincided with cake duty for a very special colleague who will be moving on to a new job. He is also fiercest gay man I know. Naturally, I’d express myself through cake, signing up for dessert at the goodbye potluck. It’s a language I am pretty good at. But this cake–a rainbow cake on the day of the largest Gay Pride Parade in New York City and as the sickening act of terrorism that killed 49 innocent people at a gay nightclub in Orlando lingers–was an important endeavor. And act of love, in brilliant ROYGBV.
Here are my notes in the case that it may help other vegans looking to taste the rainbow: First, get gel colors. The natural food colorings that drip won’t work. The un-natural food colorings that drip won’t work either. You need the highly concentrated gel colorings from Wilton. Vegan Dad found out they were vegan; and I trust him. They come in a set that doesn’t include orange. Though it is fine to mix them, I much rather not over-mix batter trying to lose two swirling colors. So The Electrician got me the orange separate.
Before you start your batter (I used Chloe’s Very Vanilla cake from Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, reprinted here.), make sure you weigh your bowl. You’re going to split the batter and the easiest way to do this is by weighing the batters. I only had two pans to work with so that would mean 3 batches of the cake, 2 layers at a time. My bowl weighed half a pound. One batch of batter weighed 2 pounds. So that meant 1 pound of batter per layer, give or take what is on the spoon.
You don’t need a lot of the gel coloring. I learned that after I made the World Cupcakes in 2010, which turned people’s mouths black. You just need a sliver of gel with a butter knife, then mix well. Do the layers from the bottom up, so start with purple… then blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. You know, the rainbow. Forget the indigo.
You really have to cool the cakes completely. You know the recipes and experts always say that. But do it this time. That huge tub of vanilla buttercream (VCTOW) you made is going to look wonderful as a thick border between layers. So you may have to do one layer and put everything back in the refrigerator and let it harden up, especially when it is warm and humid out.
[Collapse interlude. Yes, once I got to the yellow layer, the cake veered to the left as it waited in the fridge. We took it out, restacked it and put it in the freezer. Then I made more buttercream and made it look halfway decent, though still leaning, and put it back into the freezer. I took it out after fully frosted and sprinkled for a photoshoot. Then, back in the freezer. After all, it has to make the drive into Brooklyn.]
All I want to do is cut into it. But I’ll have to wait.
So the cake, frozen stiff overnight, then wrapped in wax paper and then in a cardboard support that fit snuggly in the cake carrier for stabilization, made it fine to Brooklyn. I had the air conditioner blowing on it on the floor for the whole 50 minutes. Then the helpful cafeteria staff let me put the huge cake in the refrigerator.
Flash forward a few hours to lunch… And it was a success! Big, beautiful rainbow cake!