I wonder what it is about rainbows that enchants us so much? I know I rush to the window as rainstorms cease, hoping to see the colors spread across the sky. In spring I see cars on the highway slow as they glimpse the curve of the bow across the mountains on the drive home.

Over the last couple of years, I've started hanging crystals in our east-facing windows because I love to wake up and see the sparkle and play of light. It lifts my mood and reminds me of the sparkle of jewels. I can't afford to own the Hope Diamond, but this is my way of bringing the same joy to my home on a dime.

Care to join me in the love of rainbows, up close? Small crystals found tucked in the junk box at a yard sale, lone pieces of chandelier at the thrift store, or a birthday gift of a faceted globe are ways  you can add color and light to your house, too.

Then again, we're bakers, aren't we? Why not take our love of rainbows to the kitchen with us, and make colorful, joyful, treats to share with those we love? I promise that these Rainbow Frosted Cupcakes are not only stunning – they're really, really easy to do.

First, whip up a batch of your favorite vanilla frosting. You'll need about 3 cups total, divided into 3 equal portions.

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Tint each portion one of the three primary colors (red, yellow, blue). You can make them bright or pastel, depending on your mood. I like the look of the pastels, and used about 8 to 10 drops of gel paste food color per cup of icing.

Place each color in a separate zip-top bag and trim off one corner. This temporary piping bag will make spreading your colors easier.

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Lay out a piece of plastic wrap on the counter. Try for about 14" to 16" long; you'll need some extra length for rolling.

In the center of the strip use your zip-top bags to pipe out fat strips of icing. You'll use about half a cup of icing for each strip, about half of each bag.

Pipe the icing strips side by side, with the blue in the center. Think back to your color wheel; red plus blue make purple; yellow and blue make green, and yellow and red will make peach/orange.

Roll the plastic up jelly-roll style, and twist one end closed. Keep the other end open for the icing to flow out of.

Repeat with the remaining icing to make a second roll, setting it aside for now.

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Now, here's the only place where you'll need some specialty equipment. Luckily, you can find large (16" or larger) piping bags and tips locally fairly easily. Try the cake decorating section of your local craft store or party store. Open star tips and closed star tips make the best cupcake swirls, but you can use round tips as well.

Place the plastic twist of colored icing into the bag, open section down. Twist the bag closed and press the icing towards the tip. As you squeeze, all three colors will come out, both separately and blended together where they meet.

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To pipe those bakery style swirls, think of your cupcake as a clock. Begin at 4, and pipe clockwise around to 3. As you get to 3, lift the tip and move it slightly towards the center. The bands of icing will overlap and build upward, creating the spiral.


Now that's a rainbow! A cloud of frosty goodness, a prism of sweetened sunshine.

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From plain cupcakes to out of this world creations, in about 20 minutes. Seriously.

Once you have the rolls of colors made up it's a breeze to pipe one cake after the other. Simply by rotating where you hold the bag, you can change which colors show up where on the cakes, making each one unique.


A cacophony of color, a flight of fantasy. Beautiful for birthdays, gorgeous for graduation. Make your friends ecstatic at Easter, flabbergasted on the 4th of July. Just think, you can change up your color combinations, too. Try red, white, and blue for summer parties; red, green, and white for the holidays.

I haven't tried it yet, but I think you could easily color your icings naturally, too. Blueberry, strawberry, and pomegranate juices might do the trick; or grinding freeze-dried fruits to powder. Even shades of chocolate and white would make for some incredible cupcakes.

Remember, the world is your crayon box. Bring rainbows of color wherever you wish and, as always, take time to share the joy with those you love.

From me to you – Happy Spring!

Don't forget about the cupcake under the frosting! We've got plenty of cupcake recipes to choose from, so your rainbow cakes can taste as good as they look. 

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Mary Jane Robbins
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About MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane, affectionately known as MJ here at King Arthur Baking Company, grew up in Massachusetts before moving to Vermont in 1990. Prior to this she taught pre-school and kindergarten in the Upper Valley area for 15 years. Drawing on those skills, MJ joined our Baker’s Hotline and teaching staff at...
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