Rainbow swirl cake

So, this isn't Lao technically but I did make it in Laos, so here we go. Last weekend was my 3 year old's birthday party and in grand family tradition, that meant baking.

I know it's the trend these days to buy beautifully made and flawlessly presented birthday cakes for one's children but that's not how I roll. Birthday parties sit high on my list of treasured childhood memories and my mum's cake making endeavours are part and parcel of that.

Now that I'm a mum, it's my turn to agonise, stress and deliver a slightly lopsided but wonderfully colourful and creative cake to thrill the birthday girl. It's the party piece de resistance and I take my duties seriously. 

This year, my brief was simple if somewhat contrary - "a purple rainbow dinosaur cake". I tossed up between a few ideas but I think the end result covered all the bases.

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The great thing about this cake is that it really is easy to make. And I say that very honestly because even with complicated recipes, I'll find ways to cut corners and simplify them. Which is probably why I don't post many recipes. So, let's just call this a 'how to' rather than a recipe.

All you need is the prepared cake batter, as white as possible so it colours well. You also need good quality food colouring. I use Wilton gels which create intense brilliant colours. I'm afraid you can't buy them in Laos but you can always ask to borrow mine.

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Divide the batter into as many bowls as you'd like colours in your cake. I chose five - red, yellow, green, blue, and pink. You only need a tiny bit of gel as they are super concentrated (and therefore very cost effective). Give each bowl a good stir.

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This next part is quite fun (move over adult colouring in books). Simply pour each bowl into a greased and lined cake tin, in whichever creative pattern you like.

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If, unlike me, you bake your cake in a medium sized cake tin (20cm is standard), you should only need one layer. My cake tin was too large; it rose nicely in the oven then sadly deflated. So, I ended up making 3 cakes and layering them with a simple buttercream icing.

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After the layering, I mixed purple gel into the remainder of the icing and slathered it over the top and sides. This recipe makes quite a lot of icing so you can lather it on quite generously.

The messy icing stage

The messy icing stage

If you are making a layer cake of any sort, it's worth reading up on a few techniques like levelling, crumb coating, and smooth icing. Also why it's useful to have an offset spatula, a cake leveller, and a cake board or stand. It all goes towards your competitive edge in the crazy world of kids' birthday cakes.

After smoothing the icing, with the clock ticking towards party start time, I pressed on a few edible dinosaur decorations and decorated the sides in rainbows of smarties. Voila!

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And the best part? The looks of surprise and delight on small faces and the "Wow!"s when we cut the cake. 100% worth it.

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