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Classic Baltimore Rainbow Cake

An old-school dessert found in Maryland bakeries and delis
Classic Baltimore Rainbow Cake recipe - The Daily Meal
Julie Rothman/The Baltimore Sun

Rainbow cake is an iconic Baltimore dessert. While somewhat similar to the tri-colored Italian almond cake, the Baltimore version often consists of four or six layers of thin, moist cake—each a different bright color—with a thin layer of jam or fudge in between and glaze on top.

This cake and glaze recipe is by Reva Arnoff of Pikesville, Maryland, and the frosting recipe is by Julie Rothman. These recipes were originally published in The Baltimore Sun.

Ready in
1 h and 20 m
30 m
(prepare time)
50 m
(cook time)
30
Servings

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 8 eggs
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 4 Cups flour
  • 4 Teaspoons almond extract
  • Food coloring in red, green, blue, yellow or any four-color combination you choose
  • 2 Cups butter or margarine (divided into 1/2 cups and melted, cooled and reserved separately)
  • 36 Ounces raspberry jam or chocolate fudge frosting (recipe follows)
  • Glaze for top of cake (recipe follows)

For the chocolate fudge frosting:

  • 1 Cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 Ounces melted semisweet or dark chocolate, cooled

For the glaze:

  • 1/3 Cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 Cup cocoa
  • 1/3 Cup milk
  • 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

For the cake:

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 F.

Step 2: Grease four 10-by-15-inch jelly roll-type pans and line with wax paper. The batter ingredients must be divided into fourths and mixed separately.

Step 3: To make each layer: In a mixing bowl, combine 2 eggs with 1/2 cup sugar and beat well. Add 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon almond extract and several drops of food coloring. Beat for 2 minutes. Fold in 1/2 cup of the melted and cooled margarine. Pour into a prepared pan, spreading the batter to all corners. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. This makes one layer of the cake.

Step 4: Make the remaining three layers the same way, using a different food coloring for each new layer.

Step 5: Once cool, turn the first layer out on a tray or parchment paper. Spread with either jam or chocolate icing. Turn the second layer out on top of the first layer, pressing gently to join. Spread with raspberry jam or chocolate frosting (frosting recipe follows). Repeat with the third and fourth layers, except with top layer, omit jam or frosting and spread with hot glaze (recipe follows).

Step 6: To make loaf cakes, cut into 3 loaves and then glaze so that the glaze covers the top and sides.

For the chocolate fudge frosting:

Step 1: In a clean mixing bowl, beat 1 cup softened unsalted butter until smooth. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, 2 to 3 tablespoons hot water, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Mix until combined.

Step 2: Add more hot water (a teaspoon at a time) if the frosting appears too thick to spread.

Step 3: Mix in 8 ounces melted and cooled semisweet or dark chocolate until combined. (If at this point the frosting seems too runny, place it in the refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes or while you assemble the cake layers.) Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

NOTE: If using for in between the layers as well as on top of the cake, I would suggest you double the recipe.

For the glaze:

Step 1: In a saucepan, melt 1/3 cup butter or margarine and stir in 1/2 cup cocoa. Cook for 1 minute.

Step 2: Remove from heat and stir in 1/3 cup milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Stir until smooth.

Step 3: Spread on cake while hot. Allow glaze to cool and harden before cutting.