Planning Eleanor’s Second Birthday Party

I designed the invitations this weekend. We’re just having our family over, so no need to include the address (I’m pretty sure they know how to find us).

I want to make a rainbow cake for her. Last year, I ordered a chocolate cake from the local bakery. It tasted fine, but it was kind of expensive for a plain cake and I didn’t like the way they frosted it (I decorated the top myself with a chocolate silhouette). I remember thinking that I should have just made the whole thing myself, so this year I’m going to give it a try.


photo by Nicole Hill Gerulat

I’m thinking balloons and polka dots, in lots of bright colors for the decorations. I’m sure the party will come together, but I hope I’m not being overly ambitious with the cake.

83 Responses to “Planning Eleanor’s Second Birthday Party”

  1. Kristyne April 18, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    I was going to be supermom too and make the most fabulous birthday cakes every year. But when my little one was diagnosed with Celiac at 2 yrs old, we’ve been condemned to ice cream cakes & banana cream pies (with gluten-free animal cracker crumb crusts). I miss cake. Sigh… Enjoy! And Happy Birthday to the little cutie ;)

    • Kristen June 6, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

      Kristyne,
      My daughter was diagnosed at 2 as well. She is coming up on 5 and we have not missed out on cake yet! I love to bake, but haven’t really mastered GF baking. I have relied on mixes, but have modified them. We made cake pops for her party last year and everyone – celiac or not – loved them. Good luck!

  2. Rachel Swan April 18, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    You are not being overly ambitious! I just made that cake for my daughter’s fourth birthday party, and I ended up just using 2 cake mixes because I was worried about the cake falling in the middle (a common problem with my from scratch cakes) and it worked out beautifully.

    I actually just posted the party today, and you’re welcome to check it out!

    I do recommend making your own frosting, it makes the cake taste homemade even if it isn’t. I used the Swiss Meringue buttercream recipe from Whisk Kid, and it was delicious + held all of the layers together really well.

    Here is her recipe for a rainbow cake + the frosting:

    http://whisk-kid.blogspot.com/2009/08/say-it-
    with-cake.html

    Oh, and I also found that making 2 rounds everyday in the days before the party and freezing them made it a little more manageable, and it’s easier to frost cakes when they are frozen, too.

    Good Luck!

    • Ellen April 19, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

      Also, freezing layers individually before layering allows the bottom layers to support the top layers. Very important!!

  3. Sonja April 18, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    I made that cake for St. Patrick’s Day with my daughter, just because making a rainbow cake was delightful.

    I used three Duncan Hines white cake mixes, four batches of frosting (from the back of the 1 pound box of powdered sugar), and gel food coloring to color each layer. Each mix made 3 layers of cake. I had borrowed an extra set of cake pans, but they were not the same size when measured with a ruler. I rotated each layer in the over after 6 minutes and checked them at 12 minutes – I could be wrong here, but I know they did not take long at all. After they cooled, I froze each layer in freezer paper overnight.

    I used a pastry bag without a tip to pipe a spiral of icing in between each layer, then smoothed out with a knife. These layers a small and I was worried about the layers breaking, so I found this to work well. The cake ends up being HUGE, so I would frost the cake the morning of the party (rather than the night before) to avoid any sliding of the layers. Also, I prefer not to trim the layers as they can get “crumb-y” when you frost them. Instead I measured the batter as I divided it into the three bowls so I started with even amounts of batter. Then on the two layer that were slightly rounded up more then the others, I just turned them so the rounded part was facing in toward the middle of the cake and the flat even side was on top.

    This cake turns out beautiful! Much better than store bought, and the guests were all surprised when we cut into the cake. I used salad/lunch plates to serve. Good Luck!

  4. j.j. April 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm #

    I made this cake last year for my dauhter’s 5th birthday – she had a rainbow party! The kids were so amazed! I used 3 gluten-free white cake mixes and split each into two of the rainbow colors. Also used gel food coloring – much easier to get deep colors.

    http://sixthirtyseven.blogspot.com/2010/04/rainbow-party.html

    My only suggestion would be to split two cake mixes into three colors each, because the layers I did still made for a very tall cake!

  5. Carolyn April 18, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    HA! I used that recipe for my birthday cake this year. I used different colors (more bold) than the typical ‘rainbow’ colors and let me tell you…it was everything I wanted and more. My thoughts, for what they’re worth. I really hope you do this – I didn’t think it was that much work – especially for something so epic.

    I doubled the recipe so the cake was twice as big – which was perfect for the number of guests I had.

    For some reason, I couldn’t get the frosting to set (tried it twice), don’t know what was up with that because I’m pretty darn good at baking, but it wasn’t a huge loss – I’m not a fan of most frostings and realized my true love – cream cheese frosting – would be far more preferable. And it was.

    The cake was perfectly moist. I had a friend who just ate the ‘clippings’ in a bowl as I was shaping the layers and making them even.

    The lemon extract was far more preferable (I made test cakes the week before my birthday…tried it with white cake mix just to see how that might work (tasted lame, consistency was not as awesome), and also tried it with vanilla extract (just not right).

    I’m not kidding when I tell you I think of this cake often. I can’t wait until Easter when I can make it again in all its easy, yet decadent glory.

    Good luck!!

  6. boldaslove April 18, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    I made the rainbow cake (for my 26th birthday – oops!) last year, & it came out wonderfully. I doubled the recipe & the only thing i can say is remember to cut the top of each layer down so that it is even, because otherwise i had to fill the gap around the edge with a lot of icing.
    Good luck & have fun :)

  7. Melissa April 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    I made a rainbow cake just like that for a rainbow b-day party. I saw an easier version of rainbow cake where they only made three layers of cake(each a different color). They managed to work in all of the oclors of the rainbow by coloring the frosting between each of the layers a different color and then just frosted the outside in white.

  8. Michelle April 19, 2011 at 8:47 am #

    I made a rainbow cake for St. Patrick’s Day and it turned out beautiful. It’s more time consuming then difficult to make, so just make sure to allow yourself extra time. It takes forever to bake all those layers! :)

  9. Diane V April 19, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    How about rainbow cupcakes – I’ve made these for graduation parties and various holidays and they are wonderful.

    http://www.ourbestbites.com/2009/05/colorburst-cupcakes/

  10. Lori C. April 19, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    I love your blog and am especially enjoying your house transformation. It has inspired my own.

    I just did a fun mother/daughter rainbow party and I made rainbow cupcakes. I was so excited by how they turned out. Top them with a cloud of whipped cream and they are perfect for spring.

    Lots of rainbow inspiration here: http://heythingschange.com/2011/04/fun-rainbow-party.html

  11. Diane V April 19, 2011 at 10:12 am #

    Forgot about mentioning “Color Block” jello – my mom made this a lot for parties when I was a kid.

    Found good instructions here:
    http://www.ourbestbites.com/2010/12/glass-block-holiday-jello-festive/

    It would totally fit into your rainbow theme.

    • Jen April 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

      I’ve never made this jello but have always wanted to. Thanks for the link (and it cracks me up because it looks like those fancy-gift-store soaps!

  12. Sarah K April 19, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    The cake will be amazing! Also, I spotted cute polka dot cocktail size napkins at World Market last night – in bright colors (not pastel easter colors) but on the easter shelves.

  13. Miss B. April 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm #

    This already looks like a HAPPY birthday, love the design and color scheme. Perfection as usual. BTW, blow me over with a feather, I can’t believe she’s turning TWO!

  14. erin godbey April 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    You can do it! I made rainbow cake for 200 people. Twice. I would advise against using a box mix, most of them are to lightweight for a tall layer cake. I used an easy sour cream pound cake (recipe here, if you’re interested: http://www.17dovestreet.com/2010/10/rainbow-cake-recipe-how-to.html) I’m sure the party and cake will be a smashing success!

    • Jen April 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

      I agree, Erin. And a simple pound cake is so delicious and SIMPLE. And I don’t know if anyone mentioned this but I buy those aluminum pans from the dollar store to make this cake. All the same size, baking them all at once, and then you throw them in the recycling bin!

  15. Janel April 19, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    Someone may have already posted this, but when you mentioned Rainbow Cake, I remembered that I bookmarked this link a long time ago: http://almostbourdain.blogspot.com/2010/09/rainbow-swirl-cake.html

  16. emma April 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

    you should check out makeit-loveit.com she has a great make a cake series and does something like the rainbow cake except it’s a flag inside. sooo cool. i made one last year for 4th of july. & if you have any ?’s she’s great about answering. she’s also got the BEST cream cheese icing recipe EVER. i mean ever. i could live in it. ;)

  17. Jane April 20, 2011 at 3:26 am #

    This is by far the coolest cake I have ever seen- I am going to try and bake it this weekend. I love the suggestion in one of the comments of making it double the size and using cream cheese frosting…. but perhaps I am getting a little bit carried away now!! I love your blog thanks for another great post.

  18. Katarina April 20, 2011 at 6:04 am #

    For the gluten-free folks out there, head over here:
    http://www.latartinegourmande.com/

  19. Katie April 20, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Just saw this and thought of you….

    http://www.birthdaygirlblog.com/2011/04/real-parties-rainbow-brights-stripes.html

    Cute stuff!

  20. Carey April 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    I love the rainbow cake idea! I saw that floating around a few months back, and just thought now that’s a happy cake for a happy day!

  21. Sarah Swartzentruber February 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Hi! I was just reading back in your archives and found this post. I LOVE the invitation you designed. It’s just darling. I love how bright and cheerful it is. Would you mind sharing what font you used for the body text? Please email me if you can. Thanks a million!

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