All Occasion Cakes

Far Out, Man! How to Make a Tie-Dye Cake — Inside and Out

Making a tie-dye cake is easier than it looks! Those colorful swirls may look like they were arranged by the hand of an artist, but all it takes is a little bit of food coloring and a few simple tools to give a cake that tie-dye look — inside and out! Read on to learn how to bake a tie-dye cake and then how to decorate it for a look that’s so groovy, baby!

How to Make a Tie-Dye Cake | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

How to bake a tie-dye cake

How to Make a Tie-Dye Cake | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Images via ErinBakes.com

Supplies:

  • Vanilla cake batter
  • Cake pans
  • Gel food colors
  • Small bowls
  • Spoons
  • Ice cream scoop or disher (optional)
  • Pan spray
  • Extra flour for dusting pans

Step 1:

Evenly divide your cake batter into small bowls — one bowl for each color you want to use. I went for a classic rainbow look (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) and needed six bowls. Pound cake or butter cake batters work best with this technique. A cake batter leavened with egg whites, like a chiffon or sponge, might deflate a little from the additional mixing and added coloring. 

Tinting the cake batter | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 2:

Tint each bowl of batter a different color using gel food colors. Gel colors are much more concentrated than the water-based ones you find at the supermarket, so you end up needing much less to achieve bright, bold shades. Using less food coloring also lessens the chance of the dye affecting the flavor of the cake.

This may look like a ton of food coloring, but a little bit of gel color goes a long way! If commercially made food coloring isn’t your thing, you can achieve a similar look with all-natural dyes or with various flavors of batter.

Tinting the cake batter | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 3:

Spray each of your pans with pan spray and dust the coated pans with flour. Using a spoon or ice cream scoop, add a dollop of your first color of cake batter to the center of the pan. For my first pan, I went in traditional rainbow order, starting with red, to keep things simple. Move on to the next color (orange) and place a scoop of batter into the center of the first scoop of batter. There’s no need to shake or jiggle the pan! The weight of the new scoop of batter will cause the first color to spread out.

Filling the cake pans | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 4:

Continue with the rest of your colors, scooping dollops of batter onto the center of the color before it, until your pan is filled a little more than half way. Start with a different color when you fill your next pan. This will help keep the patterns varied between cakes and create a more interesting final slice. Bake your cakes according to your recipe’s directions.

Filling the cake pans | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 5:

Trim, fill and crumbcoat your tie-dye cakes just as you would any other cake. 

Bonus!

Use the same technique (with smaller scoops) to create tie-dye cupcakes!

Tie-dye cupcakes | Erin Gardner | CraftsyTie-dye cupcakes | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

How to create a tie-dye fondant cake finish

Tie-Dye Fondant Cake Finish | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Supplies

  • Fondant-covered cake
  • Gel food colors
  • Clear alcohol or extract
  • Fine-tipped paint brush
  • Palette (small bowls or plates work fine)

Step 1:

Squirt a pea-sized pearl of gel food color into the well of a palette, on a plate or small bowl. Add a few drops of clear alcohol or extract to thin the coloring.

Painting the tie-dye finish | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 2:

Use the end of the paint brush to lightly mark a large swirl pattern onto your fondant. Start in the center of the outline and paint over the swirl in a zig-zag pattern. Use small strokes in the center and make the strokes longer and longer as you reach the end of the spiral.

Painting a zig-zag swirl | Erin Gardner | CraftsyPainting a zig-zag swirl | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 3:

Repeat the same process with your remaining gel colors, allowing each color to dry before you move onto the next to prevent smearing. The overlapping colors create little transition spaces of mixed color that help add to the realism of your tie-dye look.

Completed tie-dye swirl | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Step 4:

Continue alternating colors all the way around your swirl until the entire cake is covered. Or, create multiple swirls all over your cake, allowing the edges of each to overlap.

Paint your cake as close to serving time as possible and let it sit out at room temperature. Storing a cake painted with gel colors in the fridge can be tricky, because humidity may cause the colors to run.

Tie-Dye cake slice | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Slice, serve, and share the cake love!

Tie-Dye cake slice | Erin Gardner | Craftsy

Want more colorful cake ideas and cake-making tutorials? Check these out!

A Stunning (And Surprisingly Simple) Stencil Cake Tutorial — in GIFs!
The Secret to Perfect Birthday Cake? It’s How You Mix It
Free Video Class: The Hand-Painted Cake

3 Comments

Janis S. TheCookieMomster

Groovy! Can’t wait to make my own. 🙂

Reply
Mary

Going to make this Tie-Dye Cake with my granddaughter next weekend! I can’t want to see the expressions the grandsons faces!!!

Reply
Denise

My family will get a kick out of this! Gotta make one.

Reply

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