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 bake a tie-dye cake
Images via ErinBakes.com
- Vanilla cake batter
- Cake pans
- Gel food colors
- Small bowls
- Ice cream scoop or disher (optional)
- Pan spray
- Extra flour for dusting pans
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.
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.
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.
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.
Trim, fill and crumbcoat your tie-dye cakes just as you would any other cake.
Use the same technique (with smaller scoops) to create tie-dye cupcakes!
How to create a tie-dye fondant cake finish
- Fondant-covered cake
- Gel food colors
- Clear alcohol or extract
- Fine-tipped paint brush
- Palette (small bowls or plates work fine)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Slice, serve, and share the cake love!