It was about 3.4 nanoseconds after cutting into the Hidden Heart Cake recipe I created for Valentine’s Day that I began to think about an iteration for Easter. It seemed such a perfect holiday for sneaking away an unexpected egg where one would not think to look; in the middle of a cake!
We all have memories of that last Easter egg gone missing. My most ‘fond’ would be when I was in Junior High. In the early summer the off-putting odor of sulfur began to emanate from my closet. After several attempts to locate the source of the stench, I finally found a beautifully dyed hard boiled egg rotting in the pocket of my ski parka. I did curse the Easter Bunny for the putrid odor that did not dissipate quickly.
No risk of that happening in this case. The making of this cake actually includes two methods; making a Rainbow Cake and the nesting of a cake-inside- a cake. Since I am a gluten-free baker I have chosen to use pound cake. Gluten free cake tends not to be as dense as cake with gluten (gluten is a binder that holds things together), so desiring the most dense cake possible I’ve found pound cake works well.
I think you’ll agree the ease of creating a Rainbow Cake is one that is easily adaptable for many forms of cake and occasions. It is a bit mystifying to imagine how it turns out as it does; a seemingly unsophisticated, random method of slopping colored batter in layers that magically transforms during baking to yield a swirling rainbow extravaganza.
However magical the rainbow cake may be, there is no greater surprise then to cut into an unsuspecting Lemon-Glazed Pound Cake to find a Technicolor egg waiting! The bright lemon flavor celebrates the freshness of spring along with the festive egg.
Food Coloring: there are many options for coloring food to fit your needs and preferences. Wilton colorings come in a myriad of bold and brilliant colors and may be found in craft or cake decorating stores. Traditional coloring kits are available in the spice aisle at the grocery store and can be mixed to form your preferred color. I personally love India Tree Dyes which are all vegetable based and natural. Part of the choice is the color hue you desire; vegetable dye will be an earthier, muted tone vs. the other options.
Color mixing: Flashback to elementary school art and recall color mixing instruction (click here for help). As I mixed up a brilliant shade of lemon yellow for my rainbow cake it struck me as not the best color since my outer pound cake would be light yellow naturally. Trying to save the batter I added a bit of violet coloring to make the most ghastly shade of putrid brown. Ick. Mix colors thoughtfully!
Swapping cake mixes: I received a number of emails from readers who had made the Hidden Heart Cake with different types of cake mix not just pound cake. Experimentation is much of the fun. If you want to use a different type of cake mix just follow the directions for your selection.
No one will suspect nested inside this fresh-flavored lemon pound cake is a brightly colored Easter egg! A delight for all ages. Can be made gluten-free or with gluten based on the mix or recipe selected. Actual preparation/cooking time is an estimate as the cooling stages can vary. The recipe can be made in two stages over two days too.
- Vanilla pound cake mix or recipe (I used Pamela’s Classic Vanilla Cake mix and prepared it to the package pound cake directions)
- Vanilla pound cake mix or recipe (I again used Pamela’s Classic Vanilla Cake mix prepared for the pound cake instruction)
- ½ teaspoon Organic or Natural Lemon Flavoring
- ½ teaspoon Lemon Zest
- 1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
- 1-2 loaf pans (if only having one it can be washed in between cakes)*
- 1 Egg-shaped Cookie Cutter
- Serrated knife
- Separate small bowls for individual color mixing
- Food Coloring
- Preheat the oven to the required temperature for the cake mix or recipe being used for the Rainbow Cake.
- Decide how many colors you desire for the rainbow cake (I used 5). Prepare the cake batter and divide evenly between the coloring bowls for the number of colors being used.
- Mix food coloring into each individual bowl of batter.
- Prepare a loaf pan for baking (greasing it if called for). Spoon the first color into the prepared loaf pan. Using a spatula spread the batter to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Gently spoon the second color over the first. DO NOT MIX INTO THE FIRST COLOR! Carefully spread the second batter over the first as much as you are able to. I used a kitchen knife and teased it over the first color carefully not to mix them. It’s not a perfect science; if you cannot cover the first color, don’t worry about it (it will still be fabulous in the end!)
- Continue covering each layer with the next color until all of your mixed colors are in the loaf pan. Tap the pan firmly on a countertop a few times to release any air bubbles especially if using a thicker mix. Put the pan in the oven and bak for the time specified in your recipe/mix.
- Remove from oven. Allow to sit on a cooling rack for 15 minutes and remove from pan; place on the cooling rack to cool completely. Note: I recommend chilling gluten-free cake for a few hours or overnight, wrapped in plastic wrap to allow it to fully solidify before going to the next step.
- Preheat oven for the temperature specified for the pound cake mix or recipe you are using.
- With a serrated knife, cut horizontal slices of the pound cake the thickness of the egg cookie cutter. Using the cookie cutter, cut out an egg shape from each slice.
- Prepare a loaf pan (grease it or to specifications in your recipe). Prepare the pound cake mix or recipe you have selected and add the Lemon flavoring and lemon zest.
- Spoon a very small amount of batter on the bottom of the loaf pan; there should only be enough to set the egg-shaped rainbow cake sliced in the batter (1/4 inch thick; more than that and the eggs may protrude through the top of the cake).
- Leaving a small space on either end of the loaf pan, place the egg cake slices with sides touching in the batter on the bottom of the pan. Ensure the eggs are centered, not touching either side or the ends (so the eggs will be hidden when the cake is baked).
- Gently spoon the remaining lemon pound cake batter on either side of the eggs, the ends of the pan and eventually over the eggs to cover them. Note: I used a very large egg cookie cutter. If doing the same you may experience some cake batter displacement as it begins to bake. I suggest placing a baking sheet underneath the loaf pan so if any batter drips from the pan you are covered. If the egg shape is medium size you should not have any dripping.
- Check cake during baking for browning of the top and doneness. I placed foil loosely over the top of the cake about halfway through when the top had cooked and was a deep golden tone not wanting it to become overly brown; do not place foil over the cake until the top has cooked (otherwise it will not fully bake properly). Note on doneness: My cake baked the full duration specified on the mix. The cake can complete baking early, by about 10 minutes due to the center already being baked (the rainbow eggs). Check for doneness 15 minutes before recipe or mix specifies to ensure it does not over cook.
- Remove cake and allow to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 15-20 minutes. Gently run a knife around the outside of the cake and ease it out of the pan, onto the cooling rack to cool completely. After cooling to room temperature it can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated to allow it to fully cool (especially if it is gluten free).
- Prepare the Lemon Glaze by combining the confectioner’s sugar and lemon juice in a mixer to combine fully. Drizzle over the top of the cake and allow 15 minutes or until glaze has hardened. Slice and serve.
*I have two sizes of loaf pans with one being just a bit larger than the other. I baked the rainbow cake in the smaller pan wishing to have more space around the cutout egg by making the final cake in the larger loaf pan. My egg cookie cutter was large so this made more of a difference due to that.