Many holidays are closely associated with colors and Easter is no exception. Unlike other holidays, which just have one or two colors associated with them, Easter has an array of soft-yet-vibrant pastels to choose from. The range of color options is one of the things that makes Easter egg dying so much fun, and you can also incorporate those colors into your holiday baking. Easter may be known for chocolate eggs and bunnies, but those aren’t the only sweets you should be enjoying during your celebrations!
My Tie Dye Easter Loaf Cake has vibrant swirls of pink, yellow and orange running through a white buttermilk pound cake batter. The basic batter is flavored with vanilla, but hints of orange and lemon are added to the orange and yellow batters so that those colors aren’t just for looks! The cake is moist and dense, with a tender crumb that almost melts in your mouth. You’ll probably pick up the subtle tang and butteriness of the buttermilk, which goes nicely with the lemon and orange of the cake. While I typically use lemon and orange zest instead of extracts, I opted for extract in this cake because they’re clear and I didn’t want anything to detract from the look of the finished cake.
To make this cake, you are going to need a lot of bowls – four bowls, to be exact. Once you prepare the basic batter, you need to divide it evenly into the other bowls (leave a portion in the original bowl, too). You do not need to worry if the bowls have slightly different amounts of batter, as there is no exact science to creating this tie dye cake, so it’s ok if you don’t divide the batter precisely. Use your own preferences to decide how much coloring you want to add. I’ve put some suggestions below the recipe, but you’ll generally need less dye if you are using gel food colorings and more if you’re using liquid coloring that you can find at the grocery store.
The batter should be added to the loaf pan in large dollops, so you get a good distribution of the colors in the finished cake. It may look like patchwork as you add the batter in one (large) spoonful at a time, but the results are worth it! I only run a knife through the finished batter one time to help swirl the layers together. I like the look of larger blocks of color in this loaf cake, though a second swirl can be added if you want to create a more intricate pattern.
The cake is ready to eat as soon as it has cooled, but it keeps well in an airtight container for several days after baking if you don’t eat it all at once!
Tie Dye Easter Loaf Cake
2 1/2 cups pastry flour*
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp lemon extract
pink, yellow and orange food coloring**
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together pastry flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and egg whites until well-combined. Whisk in vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Stir in one third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Stir in another third of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining milk. Mix in remaining flour, stirring until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Divide the batter evenly into 4 bowls (ok to leave some in original bowl).
Leave one of the portions of batter plain. To another, add pink food coloring. To another, add lemon extract and yellow food coloring. To the last, add orange extract and orange food coloring. Stir each batter well so that the colors are completely incorporated.
Add each batter into the prepared pan one large spoonful at a time, creating a polka-dot appearance. Swirl a knife gently through the batter one time after all the batter has been added to give the loaf a nice swirl without overmixing the colors.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Allow cake to cool in the pan before turning it out to slice.
Makes 1 loaf; serves 10.
*Pastry flour is a lower protein flour that yields a more tender cake than all purpose alone does in this recipe. If you don’t have it, you can substitute 1 1/2 cups cake flour and 1 cup all purpose. Alternatively, you can use 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour and replace 2 1/2 tbsp with cornstarch.
**I recommend gel food colorings for their more potent color. You will need a few drops of gel food coloring and up to 1/2 tsp of traditional liquid food coloring for the colors in this cake. Add additional coloring to taste.