Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rainbow Party Prep

Do you see this giant baby?

She is turning one year old in 11 short days and it blows my mind.

You look like you're thinking about taking my bottle. Don't take my bottle.

To distract myself from freaking out over how old she's getting, we're hosting a little house party for her. I sent out adorable invitations that my friend designed (the same one her who did her birth announcements) and I've been planning the menu for weeks (and by planning I mean reading a million online recipes and reviews; they're almost as fun as reading online restaurant menus). I have most of the food picked out but have been undecided on the cake. Then I saw this rainbow cake and felt inspired. I ordered these awesome food coloring gels from Amazon and googled rainbow cakes and rainbow cupcakes until I felt I had a good handle on the theory behind the colorful creation.

I was up 2 hours early this past Sunday thanks to a teething Biscuit. I walked in to her room at 5:45 to find a sobbing baby and a Lanman trying to make her happy by playing peek-a-boo behind her crib bumber. It was a highlight from a year of adorable moments between the two of them. I felt his sweetness should be rewarded, and I'm all about seizing pockets of free time whenever they present themselves, so I decided we should test drive the rainbow cupcakes.

Landon thought cake batter for breakfast was the best parenting decision I'd ever made.

Claire thought so too, but she was denied.

But I'm the future birthday girl!

After making the batter we divided it in to five bowls and added a single drop of food coloring gel to each bowl. I made the mistake of using 2 drops of fuchsia in the first bowl and the batter looked radioactive. That gel is powerful stuff.

Then we carefully layered various colors on top of each other in the muffin tins. And by "carefully" I mean that Landon dumped it in spoonful by spoonful. I tried to do a few test cupcakes: one with super thin layers, one with bigger blobs of color, and others with various color combinations. At the time I still wasn't convinced the batter would stay separate- I mean surely if I layered yellow on top of blue there'd be at least a little green, right?

But no! They baked up exactly as they were placed (or dumped) in their battered form.

Landon declared them the most beautiful things he'd ever seen and Claire was just mad I wouldn't let her have any.

The party theme is bright colors and polka dots, so I've decided we'll do some rainbow cupcakes with white buttercream frosting (all homemade) and a bunch of mini cupcakes with only one or two colors and a small frosting "dot" on top to have on plates around the party area. They'll be like sugary little amuse bouches.

We cleaned up the kitchen and moved on to a second breakfast of cereal, milk, and yogurt. JP emerged from the master bedroom two hours later and I found him standing at the sparkling clean kitchen counter, blinking at the ziploc bag of rainbow cupcakes, and wondering where on earth they'd come from.


  1. How cute! Is Claire wearing a rainbow dress on purpose or by coincidence?

  2. Ha no, that was a happy coincidence- not even I coordinate things that much!

  3. Those cupcakes ROCK! I can't wait to see how the cake turn out!

  4. Those cupcakes look awesome and the theme sounds perfect for her birthday!

    I noticed the dress AND the shoes in the first picture...a lot of rainbow coincidence going on in this post ;)

  5. how fun!! I had no idea you could do it with cupcakes. what a fun, fun activity to reward the kiddos with! sweet mom

  6. Can the rainbow dress be her party dress? Because it is sooo coordinated with the theme.....

    A couple of suggestions to an otherwise wonderful plan: The amuse-bouches around the room will be viewed by any small party-goers (if there are any) as a challenge, requiring them to climb on anything or anyone to reach them. The cakes will benefit greatly from the addition of either vanilla, almond, or coconut extract-- any of them will confuse the cupcake-eaters as to whether they are purchased or from a mix. I too love gel colorings, and if you like these, there is a day-glo set that I used for a party themed after the glow-in-the dark and laser show we went to. I used the colors to color fondant and the result was kind of fab.

  7. A in Seattle5/26/11, 4:56 AM


    I stumbled upon your blog via "pregnant in law school" search, and I literally read every word from the first post up until now. Its been 2 weeks of reading through 3 years of often very long posts, and I'm so sad that I cant skip to the next month and that I can actually only read ONE post a day. Huge bummer.

    The thing I love about reading blogs completely past to present is because its like reading a story (and yours is not a boring one!), except it never has to end.

    You are incredibly intelligent, strong, and an amazing writer. Its been a pleasure (and some very good fodder for procrastinating on my HUGE research paper due next week), and i very much look forward to what lays ahead for you and your family!

    Also, you should totally write a book.


  8. Those cupcakes look delicious! Would you mind posting the recipe you used? It's so hard to figure out from the thousands of recipes online which ones would actually come out decent :) Thank you!!!


  9. I love this! They are soooo cute!

  10. My daughter was sitting next to me when I read this post last week and helpfully reminded me that I needed to send cupcakes to school for her birthday tomorrow. She thought these looked like a great idea.

    We made a batch of these tonight. I chose a boxed white cake mix for ease but used one that called for a fair amount of oil. Most of the recipes I've seen call for a thin batter. The gel food colors are awesome - they produce such vivid colors! The cupcakes bake up exactly as you layer the batter. I used white cake liners and you can still see the colors through the paper. They look awesome. Unfortunately we didn't have enough to sample.

  11. Hi Julie! I actually used a box here. I've used several homemade cupcake recipes and honestly, when I just want a simple vanilla one, I find the boxes are just as good (I like the homemade recipes for fancier varieties and flavors). For this, I think it's best to find a box that has the most oil content in it- you need the thick batter. Or, if there's 2 options, use the baking option that calls for whole eggs instead of egg whites.

    I used the Food Network butter cream frosting for the birthday party. It was so easy and everyone loved it (myself included). I think it's my new go-to icing.