Playing With Your Food, Recipe #3: My Big Sister’s Rainbow Tie-Dyed Cupcakes

Big Sis's Rainbow Cupcakes. I just drooled on myself.

Big Sis made these gorgeous Rainbow Cupcakes for our Hoegarden Weekend back in March. They were so awesome, I asked if she would share her recipe on my blog. Of course, she agreed. She’s a cake lover. A lover of cake. And it shows. The inspiration for these came from Andrea’s Can You Stay For Dinner blog. Substituting her own favorite white cake batter and frosting recipe, Big Sis created the perfect Rainbow Cupcake. And this week, during her visit to Casa NanaBread, she agreed to share them with you because you’re special and because we love cake. Did I say that already? I’m distracted by that photo. It’s hard to stay focused looking at that gorgeous cupcake. Here’s how she did it.

Big Sis’s “Sam Houston White Cake” batter (makes 18 cupcakes):
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
6 Wilton gel food colorings in vibrant colors, not pastel
(we used red, orange, yellow, green, blue & purple)
One package of paper cupcake liners
One recipe for awesome cake frosting (link below)
One jar of colorful sprinkles for garnish

Using a mixer, beat the butter until it is soft and creamy. Add the sugar gradually and beat until it’s nice and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, blend the flour and baking powder until well combined. You can sift it if you like, but it’s not necessary. In another bowl combine the milk, water and almond extract. Starting with the flour mixture, incorporate the dry and wet ingredients alternately into the butter/sugar mixture until it’s all combined, ending with the last of the dry ingredients. Line your cupcake pans with 18 paper liners and preheat your oven to 350F.

To color your cake mix, divide the cake batter evenly into 6 bowls. Big Sis likes to wear those disposable rubber gloves for this to keep the food coloring from staining her hands. An apron’s not a bad idea, either. Using a popsicle stick or plastic spoon because the food coloring gel really will stain EVERYTHING, add 1/8 teaspoon of coloring gel to each bowl. Beat to thoroughly combine each color so you don’t get streaks in your batter. You don’t want streaks in your batter. If the color looks too dull, add a little more food coloring.

Using a spoon, add approximately one tablespoon of purple batter to each cupcake liner. If you have leftover batter, divide it and distribute it until all the batter is used. Using a clean spoon, add the blue batter to each cupcake liner, then green, then yellow, then orange, then red. You don’t need to be dainty here, but you do want to keep your batter in blobs for the best results.

Once all colors have been distributed, it’s time to swirl your batter. Grab a toothpick, bamboo skewer or chopstick and insert it into the batter. Form a figure 8 swirl through the batter to create the tie-dyed effect.

Bake one pan at a time for 15-18 minutes (depending on your oven), or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Keep an eye on them. You don’t want to overbake these. Promptly remove from the oven and allow them to cool on wire racks until completely cool, at least 3-4 hours.

For the frosting, Big Sis used the “That’s the Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had” recipe by MissyDew off the Tasty Kitchen portion of The Pioneer Woman‘s website. Let me tell you, folks. They’re not kidding. This really is tremendous frosting. Click on the link to see the recipe. Generously frost each cupcake. Big Sis used a pastry bag with a nice star tip so she could pile it high. Immediately cover it with colored sprinkles so the sprinkles will stick. If you wait, the frosting will dry slightly and the sprinkles will roll off. And nothing could be more tragic than a cupcake without sprinkles. I exaggerate. But it really does make them prettier.

And that’s it, my friends. Grab a glass of cold milk and dig in. You won’t regret it. Your hips might. Your thighs might. Your jiggly upper arms might. But ignore them. You only live once. And a life without cupcakes is a life without joy.

Thanks for sharing your recipe, Big Sis. I enjoyed watching you work. The world is a groovier place with your tie-dyed rainbow cupcakes in it. Like totally.



Filed under Food & Recipes, Hoegarden Weekends

36 responses to “Playing With Your Food, Recipe #3: My Big Sister’s Rainbow Tie-Dyed Cupcakes

  1. How cool! My kids would LOVE these! I’m bookmarking this…I’ll have to make it for my daughter’s bday coming up in August. I can’t wait!

    • Well you should, Andrea. You inspired them! When Big Sis and I saw them on your blog, we knew we had to try them. They are a masterpiece of cupcake artistry. Thanks for sharing them and starting a new tradition in our family. We’re just happy to spread the love. Cupcake love, that is.

  2. OK, I have made an 8 layer rainbow cake, which was cool and all, except for the fact that it took for-evah to do with only 2 cake pans. No I am wondering why the idea of making cupcakes never crossed my mind. Sometimes I need a good whack to catch on. My oldest asked if I could make enough layer cakes to serve 50 (!!!) for his summer b-day treat at school. He’s SO getting cupcakes.

    I’m totally going to try your Big Sis’ cake recipe, because I have yet to find one that wasn’t too dry.

    Hmmm…at this rate, I’ll have to hold a “Baking with Nanabread” week on my blog. :)

    • You know, Kirsten…I’ve seen recipes for those 8 layer rainbow cakes and they really knocked my socks off. Then I realized how much work and time they would take to create. The cupcakes are MUCH easier, and just as pretty. Hope you like Big Sis’s cake batter. The key to a homemade cake, in my opinion, is to watch it closely and take it out of the oven as soon as it tests done with a toothpick. Overbaking is the kiss of death. You have to try that frosting, too. It’s incredible. We used the “good stuff” vanilla – my little bottle of pure vanilla paste. Oh, baby!! And while it would be fun to see you host a Baking with NanaBread week, you’ll have to call it what it really is….Baking with NanaBread’s Family. Mom & Sis did all the real work. I just took the photos and wrote it up.

      • I have a recipe for a frosting that is almost identical to the one that you used. My family has been using it forever. LOVE it! We call it “Sander’s Buttercream” because it is supposedly the one that the Sander’s Ice Cream Shoppe in Detroit used on their cakes back in the day. Although I suspect it is the Sander’s recipe about as much as the “Nieman Marcus cookie” recipe that floats around email is actually from NM. Good stuff, either way.

      • Ha! That brings back memories of the old Neiman Marcus cookie urban myth about someone being charged $1,000 (or was it $100) when they asked for the recipe. Classic! Is your Sander’s Buttercream on your blog yet? Me thinks I must go a-searchin’ for it! I love the “tried & true” old school recipes. Big Sis’s Sam Houston White Cake came from an old Imperial Sugar recipe booklet from waaaaaayyyy back in the day. Our mom made it for years, and now I have a copy of my very own (and so does anyone else who reads my blog)!

  3. Amy

    Almost too pretty to eat! Almost. I’d be stuffing my face with that pretty cupcake in a heartbeat.

  4. Armi

    What a happy looking cupcake! I have got to try this, it look so cheerful and just in time for spring. Thank your sister for me and thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you, Armi! They are cheerful, happy cupcakes…and they’re delicious, too. It’s hard to have a bad day when you have a rainbow cupcake in hand. I hope you like them.

  5. Big Sis

    Yummi, yummi, yummi, I have a rainbow in my tummi!!! No, really I do, I ate one just now!!! hehehehe!!!

    • Man, I wish I’d kept a few of those. I’m craving one again since I posted the story this morning. I was trying to be good by sending them all home with you and Mom. Now I’m thinking of making another batch. Bad NanaBread! Bad, bad, bad! I’m going to go eat celery now. And cry.

  6. These look just wonderful and so colorful. I love them. Will have to try them for my grandson. Maybe for Easter, too. Thanks for your visit. Come back anytime!

  7. Cindy

    Ok, you sealed the deal. Clare and I are definitely making these for Easter and putting the coconut bunny on the back shelf(at least for this year). We are going to put nests on top with jelly beans! I can’t wait to see the family’s reaction when they bite into them and …Happy Birthday to your mom, please tell her thank you for having such a beautiful daughter that I’m blessed to call my friend.

    • Thank you, Cindy. That’s very sweet. I’m proud to call you my friend, as well. And I can’t wait to see how the rainbow cupcakes come out with nests and jelly beans! You’ll have to save me one. Please. Pretty please.

  8. The Baby

    Cupcake hogs! I was at your house for 5 days and you waited till day 6 to make these. Maybe you are Mom’s favorite…
    I have to attest, even blindfolded, these cup cakes are awesome. I don’t remember that cake growing up. You must have waited for me to leave the house even back then. I am not a fan of icing but I could eat a bowl of this stuff!

    • Sorry, Baby Sis. It’s not that we went behind your back to make the cupcakes. We just crammed all the “action” items in while you were here, which left more time for baking after you left. And yes, I am Mom’s favorite. Duh. Mom never made the tie-dyed cupcakes when we were little, just the Sam Houston white cake recipe. I remember lots of homemade white cakes with fresh strawberries and whipped cream in the summer. And I detest those greasy shortening-based frostings, but this stuff is different. I could eat this frosting without the cupcakes. All I need is a spatula and a wet-nap.

  9. what a cool idea for a cupcake!!

    • Thanks, Mitzi. I think they’re the most gorgeous, colorful cupcakes ever, and we owe it all to Andrea at the “Can You Stay for Dinner” blog. That’s where I first saw them. I think it’s just pure cupcake genius. They’re like little works of art, and each one is a little different. It’s so fun to bite into one and see what it looks like inside. I think I’m going to make them again for the grandkids this Easter. They’re addictive.

  10. sara

    These? Are the most sweet and excellent looking cupcakes EVER!! I fear the mess, but I think I’ll have to get past that so I can make them this weekend. It’s going to be cold, rainy, and windy in my neck of the woods tomorrow, so I think this is a perfect rainy day activity! :)

    • They do have the potential to be messy, but we contained it pretty well. We used plastic spoons to mix and distribute our colored batters, and threw the spoons straight into the trash. Less clean-up. I do, however, recommend wearing an apron so you don’t ruin your favorite t-shirt or pajamas. I hope you have a great weekend and a blast making these cupcakes!

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  12. Those cupcakes look delicious! I’m going to make them…just like I did the Rocky Road cookies.

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  14. Brandi

    I am making these today with my daughter to take on her 1st day of school! They are beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

    • Awesome, Brandi! They are a lot of fun to make, and they turn out so pretty. Each one is a little work of art. I hope your daughter’s class appreciates the time you two put into making them. Best wishes for a fabulous school year! – NB

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  16. pearse

    what is the texture of this cake? is it on the denser side or towards fluffiness..thanks

    • If you make the homemade cake recipe my sister used (the one published in this recipe), it will be on the more dense side, as most made-from-scratch cakes are. If you’d like a softer, fluffier cake you can use white cake mix, made to the specifications on the box, and use the food coloring to tint it. It’s really just a matter of personal preference. Whichever method you choose, these cupcakes are fun to make and always a hit at parties.

  17. Pingback: The Belly Fat Cure and Tie-Dyed Cupcakes | sassamy

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