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Rainbow Cake Roll

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Rainbow Cake Roll

Fun rainbow-colored cake swirled with rich buttercream- a perfect St. Patrick’s Day treat!

I had so much fun making this cake  this cake was torture.

I love cake rolls like crazy, but I could not find a recipe that tasted good AND didn’t crack terribly when rolled up.  I tried 4 recipes and finally settled on plain old cake mix again– it still cracked, but tasted soooo yummy and it was definitely the easiest.

I hesitated to post this, as it is essentially a recipe experiment *fail*, but then I thought it would be a good chance to ask all of YOU if you have a fail-safe vanilla cake roll recipe…?  I love the technique and the colors- I just need a good recipe.

For now, we will go with the cake mix version~

Things to keep in mind if you want to try this recipe:

1. Use my buttercream recipe.  When it is refrigerated it gets nice and hard, cementing your happy little cracked roll together and holding it together even at room temperature.

2. Set aside several hours and take your time.

3. Use color gels.  You will not get the vibrant colors with liquid color.

Honestly, people loved this cake.  Once it is cut you can barely tell it cracked.  I made this one for my friend Dawn’s birthday and it was such a fun and cheery cake.  She only likes white cake with vanilla frosting…this is a great way to spice up that combination with color!

Here we go:


  • 1 boxed white cake mix (with oil, water and eggs according to box)
  • Gel icing colors (I use Wilton Brand gels)
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) butter
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 3. t. clear vanilla flavoring
  • Cool Whip Topping and sprinkles for garnish.


  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  • Make boxed cake mix, but add just a little less oil and water.  My Pillsbury mix called for 1 cup of water and 1/3 cup of oil.  I used 3/4 c. water and 1/4 c. oil instead.  I used the same # of eggs (3)
  • Scoop about 3/4 c. of mix into 6 or 7 small bowls and color as desired.

Pretty cake batter!!!

  • Cover the bottom of a standard jellyroll pan (mine is about 12″ by 17″, and about 1″ deep) with waxed paper- allowing the paper to extend just a bit over each end.
  • Lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Spoon each color of batter into a small ziptop bag and gently pipe colors into pan in stripes.  Just settle in and take your time here.  This is a labor of love.  Use paper towel to wipe up drips and remember that you are piping a THIN layer of cake– you don’t want to make it so thick you run out before you get to the end of the pan.  Patience is the key…believe me, I’ve done this 4 times now with different cake recipes and it just takes time.

Pour batter into small ziptopPipe in stripes!Piped cake rolls!

(It also involves a lot of dishes…pretty, colorful, messy dishes.)

Rainbow dishes!

  • Bake your cake at 350F degrees for 12-15 minutes– check often- you can’t roll a crunchy over-baked cake!
  • Remove from oven and place a clean towel that has been sprinkled with powdered sugar over the roll.  Tip the pan over onto the towel and peel away the wax paper.
  • Gently roll cake up in towel from one short end to the other.

Peel wax paper off of rainbow cakeRoll cake in towel, starting at short end.

  • Refrigerate for one hour.
  • While cake is cooling, make buttercream icing.
  • Put softened butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat on high until light and fluffy.
  • When cake is cooled, gently unroll (here is where the cracking happens…be gentle and patient)
  • VERY carefully, spread buttercream over entire surface of the cake and re-roll.  I had cracks that went the entire length of the cake and still just gently rolled it together, letting the buttercream hold it together.

Buttercream on top!

  • Gently place on a plate and refrigerate until buttercream hardens.
  • Once cake roll has hardened it can be easily moved and cut.  Top it with whipped cream and sprinkles– that helps to hide some of the cracks 😉
Not perfect, but so much fun!

Not perfect, but so much fun!

My thoughts:  I feel a little guilty publishing this on a site called EASYbaked, but I couldn’t resist.  I would make it again- it just makes me smile.  I hope a few of you brave souls will attempt this and enjoy it as much as I did!  Please– if you have a good vanilla cake roll recipe I’d love to hear about it.  You can link to your recipe if it is on a blog, or post the recipe in the comments or in-box message me on the Easybaked Facebook page.  I’m excited to find a way to make this cake “perfect” 🙂

Happy Birthday Dawn!

Happy Birthday Dawn!

Other happy rainbow desserts you might like for St. Patricks Day:

Fruit Loop Pie!Skittles cake!Tie-Dye Cake with Blue Raspberry Frosting!Polka Dot Cake!!!


About Ruthanne

Ruthanne is a scientist with a passion for baking and food photography. Using her kitchen as a lab, she loves experimenting with a variety of flavors and ingredients to create unique, fun and ultimately tasty delights! Thus she created EasyBaked, a website where sugar and chocolate overflow in fun and easy recipes. Her Motto: Money can’t buy happiness -- but it can buy marshmallows, and that’s nearly the same thing!

29 responses »

  1. Oh my!! This cake is so pretty! Your friend is really lucky!

  2. oh it looks just beautiful! i too have a “roll cake” incident..i had to make a yule log for my sisters high school french class, lets just say she cleaned my room for me for a month! now its a running joke to buy me yule log cake…but i love your efforts and it really is a beautiful cake.. lovely post..sarah

  3. That looks awesome! I love that kind of things too, but you have to be very experienced for that. You are a big talent!!

  4. Your cake is beautiful, I make rolled cakes on occasion, usually chocolate but here is a link to the recipe I always use from Martha Stewart. It usually works well with only an occasional crack. Love the colorful cake you made and it must taste amazing.

  5. how fun! i love the colors and this is a great way to get every color in every bite!

  6. GORGEOUS!!! I am sure it was a lot of work but omg Ruthanne this is beautiful! And I love that shot of all the bowls with the different colored batters. St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, any time this spring I could see this cake being a perfect centerpiece 😀

    Enjoy your weekend!

  7. Great idea! It looks so fun and colourful!

  8. petit4chocolatier

    Ruthanne, I am laughing so hard how you crossed out you had so much fun making this cake and that it was pure torture. It is gorgeous! I love the colours!! A wonderful birthday treat and you are beautiful holding it 🙂

    • It happened exactly like that too…I typed it and thought– wait…I did NOT have fun making this cake…it really frustrated me! I can’t lie…! lol! Thank you– but the beautiful girl holding it is actually my friend Dawn 🙂

  9. This is a gorgeous rainbow cake roll! Lovely colors. I’m loving your photos, especially the first one. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Yum! I’m obsessed with Multi coloured cakes at the moment! I’ve always been too scared to try a cake roll, but maybe I should…… 🙂

  11. Marcia Marcia Marcia

    To get less cracking here’s a suggestion: ROLL the cake LENGTHWISE (instead of short
    side)in the towel as soon as it comes out of oven. Cool at room temp/then unroll gently to
    frost, reroll. I make hundreds of pumpkin rolls and this works well. For your pattern you will
    have to adjust the way you layer the batter..try it lengthwise. Once it is frosted, reroll, cut in
    half and wrap in foil to either freeze or refrigerate. Slices nicely when chilled…serve as
    pinwheels. Do a few dozen of these and it becomes very easy. I use solid color cake and
    change the frosting color to match the holiday.

  12. I have made Yule logs & pumpkin roll ups many times & they crack, too. I f you use your buttercream or chocolate buttercream frosting to frost the outside of your cake nobody will know your cake cracked. They will just be amazed at your creation. You can then add your sprinkles or spearmint gumdrop leaves & red gumdrops to look like holly berries.

  13. marija barbara

    I would suggest using a sponge recipe insted of cake !!! It will defenitely work 😉

  14. Pingback: Yummy Rainbow Swiss Roll Recipe | DIY Beautiful Home

  15. Pingback: Cake Rolls to Make - Little Fingers

  16. I’ve never made a cake roll, but with pumpkin rolls I lay out a damp rag sprinkled with powdered sugar and flip the pumpkin cake out on that, then I roll the cake up in the rag and leave it be for half an hour. Then I ice it.

  17. I just LOVE baking cakes, but my favorite cake(s) to bake are the ” swiss roll cakes “. But I’m certainly NOT a professional at it . . . . . . . . . . . at least not yet.

    I won’t give up until I have perfected baking them ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 🤗


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