Make Your Own Summer of Love with a Throwback Tie-Dye Cake



Don’t let this radical design freak you out — creating a tie-dye cake (inside and out!) is way easier than it looks. If you’re newer to covering cakes with fondant, this is the perfect time to try it out. All that crazy color will definitely mask any bumps or bubbles.



  • Vanilla cake batter
  • 2 cake pans
  • Gel food colors
  • Small bowls
  • Spoons
  • Ice cream scoop or disher (optional)
  • Pan spray
  • Extra flour for dusting pans

Step 1

Divide your cake batter into small bowls, using one bowl for each color you want to use. We kept it classic with the rainbow look, but you can get as wild as you want here.

Color each bowl of batter using gel food colors. Gel colors are much more vibrant than the water-based colors you’ll find at the grocery, so you’ll need way less to get bold shades. That’s good news for the flavor of the cake because dye really doesn’t taste that good.

Step 2

Prepare your pans by spraying and dusting with flour. Then use a big spoon or ice cream scoop to add batter to the center of the pan. Keep on keepin’ on with different colors until the pan is just over halfway full. PS: No need to jiggle the pan here; the batter will spread out all by itself.

Start filling your next pan in the same way, starting with a different color for maximum pattern variation. Bake both pans according to recipe directions.

Step 3

After your tie-dye cakes are cooled, trim, fill and crumbcoat just like you would any other cake.


If cupcakes are more your style, you can make them using the exact same technique (just use smaller scoops).

They’re just as pretty!



  • Fondant-covered cake
  • Gel food colors
  • Clear alcohol or extract
  • Fine-tipped paint brush
  • Palette (small bowls or plates work fine)

Step 1

Don’t worry, this part’s a breeze too! Start by squirting a pea-sized dab of gel food color into the well of a palette, or onto a plate or small bowl. Then add a few drops of clear alcohol or extract to thin out the color so it has some transparency.

Step 2

Use the end of a paint brush to lightly mark a large swirl pattern onto your fondant--you can do multiple or just one on the front. Then start in the center of the outline and paint over the swirl in a zig-zag pattern. Tight, small strokes are good for the center, but make the strokes longer and longer as you reach the end of the spiral. (Otherwise it’s just going to look like a weird rainbow worm.)

Step 3

Hang tight. Make sure your colors have time to dry before you add the next to avoid a sad, smeary mess. As layers dry, repeat with remaining colors, overlapping them a bit for a tie-dye effect.

Step 4

Keep on alternating colors until the whole cake is covered. Make sure to do the painting as close to serving time as possible, and let the cake sit out at room temperature. The humidity of the fridge can make your artwork run (and you’ve worked too hard to let that happen).

Now it’s time to get groovy! Slice, serve and impress your guests.

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Make Your Own Summer of Love with a Throwback Tie-Dye Cake