Baked By Melissa Made A Tie-Dye Cake — & We Can't Look Away

Baked by Melissa's bite-size cupcakes are the stuff of novelty dessert legend. The hand-crafted tiny treats are moist, festive, customizable for just about any occasion, and can be ordered online to ship anywhere across the country. So when we heard that Melissa Ben-Ishasay was not only debuting a cake-centric cookbook, but was also planning to stop by our offices and whip up a unique tie-dyed creation, our sweet teeth were aching.

Cakes by Melissa just dropped today, and its pages are packed with over 120 creative recipes for nearly endless cake, icing, filling, and topping combinations. One of which happens to be the visually explosive, multi-colored, and layered Tie-Dye Cake. Scroll ahead to watch Ben-Ishay make the rainbow sprinkle and swirled icing glaze magic happen on camera — and also to discover how you can recreate the recipe back home in your own oven.

Not much of a cake-making boss? No sweat. In celebration of bake-book's launch, Baked by Melissa will be offering the limited-edition Tie-Dye Layer Cake for pre-order purchase online.

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Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Sears.
Classic Vanilla Cake Batter

Ingredients
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
2 cups sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 3/4 cups whole milk (or buttermilk; let the cup overflow a bit)

Instructions
1. With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 1 minute on high speed, then scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

3. Add the vanilla extract. While mixing at medium-low speed, add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the edges of the bowl midway through.

4. Combine the flour, baking powder, and sea salt in a separate bowl.

5. With the mixer on low speed, add half the flour mixture. When it’s mostly incorporated, add half the milk. Add the remainder of the dry and wet ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Stop mixing as soon as you have a smooth batter.

6. Take the paddle attachment off the mixer and lick the batter — it should be delicious!

Recipe from Cakes by Melissa by Melissa Ben-Ishay. Copyright © 2017 by Baked by Melissa. Used with permission by William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Sears.
Vanilla Icing

Ingredients
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Instructions
1. With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the butter on high speed for 1 minute. Add the vanilla and whip just to incorporate.

2. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar and salt. With the mixer on low speed (otherwise you’ll be covered in confectioners’ sugar), add the sugar 1 cup at a time, until completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between additions. Whip on high speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Vanilla Glaze

Ingredients
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tbsp whole milk, plus more as needed
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions
1. With a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla. Mix on low speed until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add a little more milk to thin it to the desired consistency.

2. If not using within 10 minutes of mixing, cover the bowl with plastic wrap to keep the glaze from drying out. Store at room temperature.

Recipe from Cakes by Melissa by Melissa Ben-Ishay. Copyright © 2017 by Baked by Melissa. Used with permission by William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Sears.
The Tie-Dye Cake

Ingredients
Vanilla cake batter
Vanilla icing
Vanilla glaze
Rainbow sprinkles
Pink, green, yellow, orange, and blue food coloring (or the colors of your choice)

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans or line them with wax paper or parchment and butter the paper.

2. Divide the cake batter evenly among five small bowls. Add food coloring to each bowl—1 drop at a time— until the desired intensity of each color is reached. Scoop each color into a disposable pastry bag and snip the tip of the bag. I tie the ends of the pastry bags with plastic wrap or rubber bands to keep the batter in. Pipe the batter into the first pan, one color at a time, one over the next. (You could also use a spoon, but the pastry bags make this much easier.) Repeat with the remaining two pans. (This is the Zebra Cake technique. Search Pinterest for a full tutorial.)

3. To make the tie- dye effect, carefully drag a skewer completely through the batter from the center out to create a pattern with the colors. Don’t over mix the colors.

4. Bake until the middle of the cake feels springy when you gently press your finger against it, 35 to 40 minutes.

5. Set the cake aside to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the vanilla icing.

6. Level the cakes with a serrated knife. Place one layer on a cake turntable and frost the top with the icing. Add the second cake layer and frost the top. Place the third layer on top and cover the entire cake with a “crumb coat” of white vanilla icing. I do a crumb coat— a thin layer of icing spread around the cake to seal in all the crumbs and ensure a neat finish. Unless it’s a chocolate cake, the crumb coat is done with vanilla icing. It looks so clean and creates a nice blank canvas for decorating. If, instead, I have chocolate icing on a chocolate cake, or I’m adding glazes or covering the whole cake with sprinkles, I might not care so much about the crumb coat, but it’s really up to you.

7. Make the vanilla glaze to a thicker consistency than you want on the cake and divide it between two mixing bowls. Add pink food coloring to one bowl and blue food coloring to the other bowl—1 drop at a time— until the desired intensity of each color is reached. The food coloring will thin out the glaze a bit. You can always add more milk, but you can’t take it away. Working with an offset spatula, spread pink glaze over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides. Spread the blue glaze over the pink, but do not let it completely cover the pink. Finally, spoon more pink glaze onto the center of the cake top. Alternate the glazes just like you did with the batter. Use a skewer to pull the glaze from the center out to the edge and make the tie- dye design. Work quickly before the glaze starts to dry.

8. For tie- dye layer cakes, I always double the vanilla cake recipe. You lose some batter when mixing colors, and I like a slightly thicker cake so the beautiful colors really show. The doubled recipe will make two thick layers that can be stacked on top of one another or each sliced with a serrated knife to make four layers; you can also make one large 13x18-inch half- sheet pan and cut out cakes with round cutters.

9. I had no idea how I was going to decorate this cake when we brought it to the photo shoot. I made up the pink and blue glazes on the spot, and the result was so pretty. Always mix your glazes to a consistency that will give you the effect you want: Do you want the drips to go all the way down the sides of the cake? Halfway down? Or just stay on top? The amount of milk needed to achieve the desired consistency will vary, so add it slowly, one tablespoon at a time. The more milk added, the drippier the glaze. For the yellow ombre–frosted cake, I didn’t want much drip— just a glistening coat that looked like shellac, so I didn’t mix in as much milk. The pink and blue glazes have a little more milk.

10. To create the pink and yellow ombre icing, I fill one pastry bag with yellow- dyed vanilla icing and another with pink- dyed vanilla icing. With the cake on a turntable, I deposit a little ribbon of yellow and a little ribbon of pink as I turn the cake. I repeat the two ribbons, then take the bench scraper to smooth it all out.

Recipe from Cakes by Melissa by Melissa Ben-Ishay. Copyright © 2017 by Baked by Melissa. Used with permission by William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Photo: Courtesy of Ashley Sears.
Cakes by Melissa by Melissa Ben-Ishay, $26.99, available at Baked by Melissa.

Recipe from Cakes by Melissa by Melissa Ben-Ishay. Copyright © 2017 by Baked by Melissa. Used with permission by William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.