Tie-Dyed Christmas Cake

Abby invited a handful of teenagers to our house last weekend.

We planned to go ice skating, but the rink was closed for a recital. Then we planned to go to our little town’s First Friday Artwalk, which I thought sounded delightful, but which actually, I was told, is boring and cold. Then we planned to play board games inside our nice, warm house, but it turns out that all of the board games we own are stupid, boring, babyish, boring, and boring. (I thought Hi-Ho-Cherry-o and Disney Friends Sorry sounded like the perfect games for middle schoolers, but they assured me I’m wrong. Very wrong. Very, very wrong. Wrong.)

I stopped getting eye-rolls when I suggested they bake, which is a good thing ’cause my next suggestion was folding laundry. I was so excited to be back in the Land of Not Stupid that I gave them unlimited access to my baking items. Sure, I ended up with cake mix all over my kitchen floor, but, unlike cooking with preschoolers, teenagers know how to use a broom and a dust pan! I mean, it took all parts of their hive mind to figure it out, but they did it. It was amazing!

(Psst… I don’t know why Abby lets me publish stuff like this, but she does. She’s cool that way.)

Also amazing was their baking project choice. Tie-dye cake. One of ’em made it at youth group, so she was, like, the expert, and, like, she totally knew, like, what to do.

She did, too. It was awesome. So awesome it needed no frosting. So awesome, it was all gone before I remembered to take a picture to forever capture its awesomeness. Fortunately, it was also so awesome that I remembered how to do it so we could make Tie-Dye Christmas cake with my littles the very next day.

Guys, this exactly the kind of baking project that meets all of my requirements: fun, easy, and delicious.

Here’s what we did:

(The real directions are at the end of the post, so you can put down that notepad you always keep handy when you read this elegant lifestyle blog.)

Step A: Pose like total cheese biscuits with a pile o’ ingredients.

Step B: Mix up the cake batter, making sure to bypass gently cracking the eggs…


Step C: Divide the cake batter into bowls for coloring (we did white, green and red), and then notice that these little guys look a whole lot like Christmas elves.

Play with them like Barbie dolls ’til Mom gets all gross and makes them kiss with slurpy sounds. “Eeewww! You’re disgusting, Mom.” Why, thank you. Thank you very much.

Step D: Douse each bowl of batter heavily with food coloring. (Ignore internet warnings about the dangers of food coloring; it’s really the only way you’re going to sleep at night.) And then stir, stir, stir. Like you mean it, dudes. Like, if you don’t stir hard enough and fast enough, Santa can’t land his spaceship and no one gets any presents.

“Santa doesn’t have a spaceship, Mom. He has a sway with Wayne D. O.”

“I’d call it more of a swagger, but whatever. And who’s Wayne D. O.?”

“Wayne D. O. You know, Mom. Wayne D. O.? They pull Santa’s sway?”

“OH! Reindeer! Why didn’t you say so? And what do reindeer have to do with a spaceship, anyway?

“What are you even talking about, Mom?”

No one knows, sweetie. No one knows.

Here, Cai demonstrates proper batter stirring technique,

And here, Cai shows off his Mega-Quick, Fast-as-Lightening, Cake-Beating Super Power:

“Look, Mom! You can’t even see my hand!” (For other Cai super powers, like Super Fly and, um, Super Blow, click here.)

Step E: Spoon dye-laden poison batter into prepared cake pans using the plop technique.

Step F: Bake according to package directions. Then bake longer because all that dye put extra liquid in your batter.

Step G: Frost it.

Step H: Throw in a photo of a pretty tie-dye cake (like this one From Nana’s Kitchen With Love) that shows just how lovely they can be:

Step I (which only for pathetic cake-decorating losers like me… feel free to self-select whether this step is right for you): Ask Neanderthal Mary and Joseph to pray for your backsliding sinner of a cake.

Tell them to pray, pray, pray. (Pray like you mean it, dudes.)

And then eat! Mmm… cake.


Christmas Tie-Dyed Cake
(Or Cinnamon Cake with Butter Rum Icing)

Cake Ingredients:

  • White cake mix & the required eggs & oil to make up the batter
  • Food coloring of your choice – if you Google this, you’re going to get 100,000 baking sites telling you to buy food coloring gel. I’m sure they’re right. Seriously; what do I know? (In case you’re curious, I know nothing.) But my regular, substandard, bought-at-the-grocery store food coloring worked just fine.
  • Cinnamon, 1 Tbsp. – but only if you want to get all fancy like I did. I just thought that Cinnamon Cake with Butter Rum Vanilla Icing sounded like the best idea ever. (Mmmm! I still do!)

Cake Directions:

  • Mix batter according to package directions.
  • Add cinnamon to batter.
  • Divide batter into separate bowls and dye each bowl of batter a different color.
  • Randomly spoon and drizzle colored batter into prepared cake pans. This is a terrible project for people who have OCD. I probably should’ve mentioned that up front. Oops.
  • Bake according to package directions. Then bake longer if you added so much extra dye that it altered the liquid content of the cake. Teehee.
  • Allow cakes to cool (if you don’t want a sinning backslider for a cake) and frost.

Butter Rum Vanilla Icing

Icing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1-2 lbs. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. real vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. rum flavoring
  • a drizzle of milk

Icing Directions:

  • In a mixer, beat together butter and 1 lb. of powdered sugar.
  • Add vanilla and rum flavoring.
  • Drizzle milk ’til you have the consistency you want.
  • Add powdered sugar because you put in too much milk.
  • Add milk because you put in too much powdered sugar.
  • Repeat last two directions until you run out of powdered sugar.
  • Throw in the towel and say, “FINE! I guess this will have to work.”

Is there another way to make icing? If so, I don’t know it.

Makes delicious cupcakes, too!

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21 responses to “Tie-Dyed Christmas Cake”

  1. I just made this cake this afternoon. Aden came over to play with grace and she said ” Oh! I like your tie dye cake. Hey, my mom made one just like it! “. I found that the colors showed up very well in a bunt pan. It is a very fun idea, thanks!

  2. I love this story. I started laughing harder when reading the “steps” and my middle son had to know what was causing me to laugh. I told him “that mom of five blog” and he said, “Oh.” Then I started laughing harder when I got to the egg step and said, “Do you want me to read it to you?” He wasn’t laughing as hard as I was, but then he’s not a mom yet…. lol

    • My cousin occasionally reads the blog to her high schoolers. They don’t think it’s funny AT ALL. I think it’s WAY funnier now that I know that she tortures them with it. And I shall think the same of your son. Thanks for sharing; that’s awesome.

  3. I love your tie dyed Christmas cake and it looks like a lot of fun to make. Your Butter Rum Vanilla Icing sounds tasty too. That’s also about the same way that I make my icing – it always seems like it’s either too thick or too thin. My 5 year old would probably have fun making this with me but I bet I still couldn’t get her to eat it. She’s weird like that and is only willing to eat a handful of things. Packaged cookies, candy and ice cream = good and worthy of her eating. Homemade cookies, cake of any kind, and many other things = not worthy.

    FYI – Santa totally has a spaceship!

  4. THANKS BETH! I will be the cool mom this season by making this now too! UM, but……you are already decorated for Christmas??? It will probably make you feel good that I am not! LOL, only have a tree up with lights, no decorations!!!

    • Yippee! I’m ahead of someone! (Don’t tell anyone that I left 75% of the Christmas decorations in the garage ’cause I just didn’t want to spend time on it this year, OK? I’d hate to give away my new-found success so easily. ;))

      Also – thanks for encouraging me to write this one, Susan!

  5. I love the tie-dyed cake! And the frosting directions are straight from my kitchen, I’m sure. Thanks for writing it down so I won’t forget how to make frosting the way I always have.

  6. Love this idea! And love your directions for icing (which by the way is apparently an old school way of saying frosting. I totally confused a teenager by giving her instructions for icing, she could not figure out why you would need to put the cake on ice).
    But I digress, that is exactly the way I make icing and why I always keep extra powdered sugar on hand:-)

  7. I just love this! It’s soooo pretty and sound sooo fun! I don’t normally use cake mix because I can’t pronounce most of the ingredients in it…but I have been persuaded to buy a box just so I can make this cake. Can’t wait to show my kids when they get home!

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