I’m not really a baker. Not in the traditional sense, anyway. I just pretend to be.
Sure, I bake cookies, and sheet cakes, and bundt cakes. But those are easy. And I usually stick to a glaze where I can drizzle it on – the fancy rosette or ruffle designed frosting scares me. And I certainly don’t make 4-tiered cakes.
Until of course, Trevor turns 6, sees a picture of an Ombre cake…and begs me to make it. And then I cry silently inside because he had me at the very first, “Please Mom?” And I know I’m going to need to step outside my comfort zone. And be on my feet for a while.
Honestly, though? It really wasn’t difficult. Just a lot of steps…and actually quite fun! I documented the process on Instagram.
The shot of the slice I took could have been cleaner, but by the time I got around to photos at the end of the day, I was tired and decided I didn’t care enough.
If I was to do it over again, I would make sure there was slightly more variation between the 2nd and 3rd layer. But I think it came out pretty and Trevor loved it. That’s really all that matters.
Haley has already put in a request for next year. Pink, of course.
Prep time: 1 hour + cooling
Cook time: 30 minutes
For the cake
• 4 pieces of parchment paper, cut into 9-inch rounds
• unsalted butter, for the pans
• 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
• 1 cup vegetable oil
• 4 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
• food coloring
For the frosting
• 8 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
• pinch of salt
• 10 cups powdered sugar
• 2 tablespoons vanilla
• 6 to 8 tablespoons milk
• 7 ounces unsweetened shredded coconut, divided into thirds
Preheat oven to 350. Position rack in the lower third position. Butter 4, 9-inch-round cake pans and line the bottoms with the parchment paper. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the granulated sugar and vegetable oil with an electric mixer on medium-high until thick and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla; beat on high until the batter is light and fluffy; about 2 minutes. Turn the mixer down to low and beat in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. Beat until the batter is smooth, about 2 minutes.
Evenly divide the batter among four bowls. Tint in varying shades of the same color (I did 10, 6, 3, and 1, but shades may vary depending on whether you use food dye or gel, and the manufacturer.) Pour batter into the 4 greased pans. Bake 2 pans at a time until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto racks to cool completely. Gently remove parchment if it sticks to the cake. (If your cake layers are not flat, take a serrated knife and gently cut off any mound that developed during baking.)
Make the frosting: in a large bowl, beat the butter and salt with an electric mixer over medium speed until fluffily and smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until smooth; add in the vanilla, increase speed to medium-high and beat until thick, about 2 more minutes. Beat in the milk, a little at a time, until the frosting is spreadable.
To assemble the cake: place deepest color cake layer on cake plate, stack layers from darkest to lightest, spreading about 1 1/2 cups frosting in between each one. Cover the outside of cake with remaining frosting. Place shredded coconut in 3 separate plastic bags. Add an increasing number of the same food coloring to each bag and shake until fully incorporated. Pat deepest color around base of cake, working your way up with the lighter color, and topping it off with the lightest shade.
Slice, serve, and enjoy!
NOTES: (1) I have 4 pans, so I baked mine all at the same time, however it took 30 minutes instead of 15. If you decide to do this, just check it after 15 minutes, in 5 minute increments, since oven temps can vary. (2) if you don’t feel like making your frosting from scratch, you can use 2 (14 ounce) containers Duncan Hines Whipped White frosting. (3) Yes, this would work with any other color. You don’t have to use blue. (4) Don’t like coconut? Decorate it with sprinkles or just tint the frosting! (5) you can make this the day before you need it. Keep refrigerated, in an air tight container, until serving.