Rainbow Cupcakes

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Makes 24 cupcakes
Credit: allrecipes.com
Originally from August 2013 on my old blog

This post is back from when I used to play tennis. I quit tennis the spring of my freshman year because I wanted to run year-round. It’s pretty funny looking back at how excited I was about tennis tryouts. I can’t believe I made cupcakes for the team on my like, 5th day of practice. Haha, I was the biggest nerd. But that hasn’t really changed. Anyway,

Tennis tryouts are over, and I made second singles on varsity! I wanted to make some cupcakes for the team, because teammates are always bringing food in, and I decided it was the perfect excuse to bake something.

The problem was, I didn’t want to just make plain old vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, but at the same time, I wasn’t going to make something wildly exotic, or else it wouldn’t satisfy everyone. These rainbow cupcakes were perfect. They taste just like a vanilla cupcake with buttercream frosting, because that’s what they are! Actually, they taste better than that, because when something looks that pretty, it tastes a little better, too.

Don’t be deceived; it’s not as complicated as it looks. You make the everyday vanilla cupcake batter, then you split it up into 4 bowls and give each bowl a color with a few drops of food coloring. Then you just spoon it into the cupcake tins, spreading each layer over the other (that part is a little tricky; it can be hard to layer without mixing) and bake.

The entire team was wowed… these will please any crowd! Hey, that rhymed! I’m so lame, sorry.


~2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
~2 teaspoons baking powder
~½ teaspoons baking soda
~½ teaspoon salt
~½ cup milk (any fat content is fine)
~½ cup vegetable oil
~1 teaspoon vanilla extract
~½ cup butter (1 stick)
~1 cup white sugar
~3 eggs, room temperature
~Red, yellow, green, and blue food coloring
~frosting (optional, but obviously recommended)

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper baking cups. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together the milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl until evenly blended; set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Pour in the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture, mixing until just incorporated.

Divide the cake batter into four separate bowls. Add a few drops of food coloring into one bowl of batter and stir; add more food coloring, if necessary, to reach the desired shade (as you can see from the batter pictures above, the batter may look a little too lightly colored before it’s baked, but that’s okay, it will darken). Repeat with the remaining colors and bowls of batter.

Using a different spoon for each color batter, spoon a small spoonful of each color into the cupcake liners (in rainbow order), until ½ to ¾ full (you could just spoon it in, but then it will just be colored blobs instead of stripes. To achieve a striped look, you will have to drop spoonfuls of the batter into the muffin tin and spread it evenly, then add the next layer; spread it as evenly as you can without mixing the two colors. It won’t be perfect, but that’s okay, people will be too focused on how yummy and pretty the cupcake is to notice that the stripes aren’t exactly aligned. This step may take a while, but just be patient, it will all be worth it in the end). Do not mix the batter once it is in the cupcake liner. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes clean, about 15 to 20 minutes.

*Optional frosting: Make sure the cupcakes are completely cooled before you start this step. To help them cool faster, stick them in the freezer for 3 minutes, or maybe a little longer. Get your frosting, whether homemade or store bought, and add some food dye (my suggestion is to dye the frosting the same color as the bottom layer of the cupcake, for example, some of mine were blue at the bottom, so I used blue icing on those, and pink icing on the cupcakes that had red on the bottom). You could always use pure white frosting, too, I bet that would be very pretty next to the bright colors.

Happy dining!!


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