This perfectly Pink Ombre Cake makes the most beautiful centerpiece for Valentine’s Day, date night, baby shower, or children’s birthday party. My daughter and her friends were delighted at the site of this cake. The cascading shades of pink are topped with vanilla buttercream frosting and candy embellishments. The girls thought the frosting was like “eating a cloud” because it was so fluffy.
I’ve left the outside of the cake plain so we could admire the layers (called a naked cake) but this recipe includes enough frosting to cover the entire cake. Strawberries or raspberries can be added to fill in the layers between each cake since the vanilla cake is a beautiful blank canvas. Despite the many layers of pinks in the cake – preparing this cake is not nearly as daunting as you may imagine.
My simple vanilla cake recipe has a perfectly tender crumb and a moist texture. If you prefer, start with two boxed white cakes mixes.
I used a 9″ cake pan which left me with slightly shorter layers, where an 8″ cake pan would have been ideal for this cake. I made the cake batter in the bowl of my electric mixer. Once it was combined, I added a touch of “Rose Petal Pink” for a really light pink. I then removed 2 1/2 cups of batter from the main bowl and put it into my first prepared cake pan. I then went back to the mixer and added another couple of drops of food coloring to create the next color layer and poured 2 1/2 cups into my next prepared pan. I repeated this process two more times to create the four increasingly deeper colored layers. Alternatively, you can divide the batter among four bowls (2 1/2 cups in each bowl) and make your colors from there.
The same process can be used when making the frosting. Use the cooled cakes as a color chart to make sure the frosting and cakes closely match in color.
Pink Ombre Cake
- non-stick oil for coating the pans
- parchment rounds (optional)
- 8" cake pan(s)
For the Vanilla Cake:
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- Pink gel food coloring - Rose Petal Pink by Wilton
For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
- 2 lb. confectioners' sugar
- 2 c. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/4 c. heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
- To Make the Cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Oil four 8" round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment; oil the parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time, beating each egg until fully incorporated before adding the next egg. Add the vanilla extract.
- Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beating just until incorporated.
- Once the batter is ready, add a drop or two of the pink for a really light pink hue. Then remove 2 1/2 cups of batter from the main bowl and put it into the first prepared cake pan. Next, add another couple of drops of food coloring to the batter in the mixer to create the next color layer and then transfer another 2-1/2 cups into the next prepared pan. Repeat this process two more times to create four increasingly deeper colored layers. Alternatively, you can divide the batter among four bowls (2-1/2 cups in each bowl) and make your colors from there.
- Pick up and drop the pans onto the counter from about 6 -8 inches in the air to remove bubbles.
- Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer cakes to a wire rack and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert each onto the rack to cool completely.
- Using a serrated knife, trim the rounded tops of all the cakes to make flat, even layers. If the sides of the cakes are dark, freeze for 2 hours, then gently file the edges using a Microplane or small-holed grater to reveal the true cake color.
- To Make the Frosting: Sift confectioners' sugar into a bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a large bowl on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Reduce speed to low and gradually add the sugar, alternating with the heavy cream. Beat in the vanilla extract. Increase speed to high and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- To Assemble the Cake: Place the deepest pink cake on a cake stand and top with a heaping 1 1⁄2 cups of the buttercream, spreading evenly just to the edges. Sandwich with the second- deepest pink cake. Repeat layering, using the other cake layers to create an ombré effect. Finish with a layer of frosting. To prevent drying, cover cake with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
Make Ahead: The baked cake layers can be frozen for up to one week.
Serving Size 1 slice
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 36 g
Saturated Fat 22 g
Cholesterol 148 mg
Sodium 222 mg
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 92 g
Protein 6 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
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