Jo Wheatley's rainbow vanilla sponge

(12 ratings)
Jo Wheatley's rainbow vanilla sponge
Jo Wheatley's rainbow vanilla sponge
  • Serves: 8-10

  • Prep time:

  • Cooking time:

  • Total time:

    plus cooling
  • Skill level: Bit of effort

  • Costs: Mid-price

Jo Wheatley's rainbow vanilla sponge was designed especially for The Rainbow Trust's fundraising inititive The Big Hour Cake Sale. Jo says: 'The work Rainbow Trust does to support families of children with a life threatening or terminal illness is immeasurable. With three amazing boys myself I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it must be when one of your children is so seriously ill. It is so important that we all do our bit and so this year I am supporting The Big Hour Cake Sale for Rainbow Trust.' With a gorgeous buttery vanilla sponge and soft sweet buttercream we are sure this could raise some pennies and some smiles!


For the sponge

  • 225g margarine or unsalted
  • butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp full-fat milk

For the decoration

  • 500g icing sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp full-fat milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 drops of blue food colouring
  • N.B. retain some uncoloured buttercream for the middle and to secure the icing rainbow
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam
  • Smarties
  • Dr Oetker Ready to Roll Coloured Regal Ice Icing


  1. Prepare 2 x 20cm sandwich tins. grease and line the bases lined with buttered baking parchment .
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
  3. In the bowl of a free-standing mixer, cream the margarine or butter and sugar together until pale, light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs and vanilla extract. Add the flour and milk and mix until light and fluffy.
  4. Divide equally between the prepared sandwich tins, spread level and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for about 22–25 minutes until golden and a skewer comes away clean when inserted into the middle of the cakes.
  5. Turn the cakes out of the tins onto a wire cooling rack and leave until cold.
  6. To make the buttercream, tip all of the ingredients into the bowl of the free-standing mixer and beat until light and fluffy. Then add a couple of drops of blue food colouring and mix together.
  7. Lay one cake layer on a serving plate and pipe or spread the blue buttercream around the edge of the top of the sponge and if you’ve got a steady hand you can do a curved pattern around the edges. Spread the rest of the top of the sponge with strawberry jam. Sandwich the other sponge on top carefully.  Spread the second cake layer with the blue buttercream and finish with a circle of Smarties around the outside edge.
  8. Now for the rainbow, roll five sausages of different coloured fondant icing, then with a damp finger wet each edge, then 'glue' them together. Use an upturned egg-cup on a piece of parchment to shape the rainbow around. Place a cocktail stick into the bottom of each rainbow sausage, leaving half the stick visible so you can secure the rainbow onto the cake. Leave the rainbow overnight to dry. Place rainbow carefully onto the cake by submerging the cocktail sticks into the buttercream and sponge. Then pipe uncoloured buttercream to look like clouds and to hide the join.

Vanilla Birthday Cake from A Passion For Baking by Jo Wheatley, Constable 2013

Jo Wheatley is fronting The Big Hour Cake Sale, which takes place 21-27 October and is the biggest annual fundraiser for Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity. The charity is asking people across the country to use the extra hour we all gain when the clocks go back, to get baking and hold a cake sale, to raise vital funds to help them support families of children with a life threatening or terminal illness. For further details on how to register and to see some of Jo’s tasty recipes please visit:

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