Bright and Colorful Rainbow Sherbet Cake

July 14, 2021

Rainbow Sherbet Cake – Tender yellow cake layers with raspberry lime curd and orange buttercream.

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Classic Yellow Cake

A Classic Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting may be basic but it’s one of my favorites! I didn’t always love a yellow cake, though. It wasn’t until I teamed up with my friend Brooke Eliason from Female Foodie a few years ago for a collaboration that I even considered making a yellow cake of my own. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting is Brooke’s favorite cake.
As part of our collab, I created my own yellow cake recipe, in hopes to make it the best yellow cake she’s ever had. (And I think I did!) This yellow cake is tender, sweet and flavorful thanks to a good amount of egg yolks, sour cream, cake flour, and both clear vanilla extract and butter extract.
After creating my Classic Yellow Cake, it quickly became a popular one to do in my cake classes at Orson Gygi in Salt Lake. On one occasion, I had extra layers after class. Of course, I never let cake go to waste, so I decided to incorporate the layers into a new cake.
Rainbow Sherbet Cake #cakebycourtney #rainbowsherbetcake #yellowcake #yellowcakerecipe #rainbowsherbetcakerecipe #rainbow #springcake #cake

Rainbow Sherbet Cake

As I thought about how to use the extra yellow cake layers, I asked Westin if he wanted to help me come up with a new flavor. He jumped right in and quickly helped me decide on a raspberry lime curd for the filling. We also talked about a lime buttercream, but when we got started on the frosting, I realized I didn’t have any lime flavoring. Westin and I went through what I did have and chose orange emulsion to go in my basic vanilla buttercream.
You guys! Oh. My. Gosh. The combination is out-of-this-world good. With one bite, I immediately thought of the rainbow sherbet I used to get as a kid at Baskin Robbins and it made me smile ear to ear. I’m beyond thrilled with how this cake turned out.
Rainbow Sherbet Cake #cakebycourtney #rainbowsherbetcake #yellowcake #yellowcakerecipe #rainbowsherbetcakerecipe #rainbow #springcake #cake


To get a light and fluffy homemade buttercream frosting, make sure you follow my tips over at: HOW TO MAKE THE BEST BUTTERCREAM

These steps are written up for my vanilla buttercream, but are supposed to be applied for my orange buttercream or any other buttercream on my page.

  • Sift your powdered sugar
  • Use slightly cold butter
  • Use heavy whipping cream
  • Beat for 5 minutes
  • Stir by hand

You’ll want to check out the post linked above for more details on each step.

COLORING TIPS: I wanted to mimic the ice cream we all know and love. I used pink, electric green and orange food gels from Americolor.

Rainbow Sherbet Cake #cakebycourtney #rainbowsherbetcake #yellowcake #yellowcakerecipe #rainbowsherbetcakerecipe #rainbow #springcake #cake

How to Cake It: Help Stacking Tips

Using a soft filling like a curd can be tricky when stacking your cake. Here’s a few tips to make sure your cakes with fillings maintain structure and don’t slide around:

  • Always put frosting between the curd and the cake layer so the curd doesn’t seep into the cake. You want distinct layers.
  • Pipe a rim of frosting around the edge of the cake to create a barrier around the filling. This will ensure your filling doesn’t ooze out the sides as you stack more cake layers on top. The rim of frosting also helps support the next cake layer.
  • Don’t overfill your cake with the soft filling. Putting too much filling in between the layers will cause it to slide around, even with that frosting border. Instead, add just enough for a thin layer and then save the rest of the filling to scoop onto the plate as you serve each slice of cake.
Yellow cake layers with a raspberry lime curd and orange buttercream make this a perfectly flavored Rainbow Sherbet Cake. #rainbowsherbet #sherbet #cakerecipe #summercake #howtomakecake #summercakerecipe #ombrecake


Don’t forget to follow my go-to tips for getting your cakes to rise and bake well:

  • Preheat your oven for 30 minutes prior to baking.
  • Use good quality pans like Fat Daddio.
  • Spray your pans with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper. 
  • Don’t overmix your cake batter once you add the dry ingredients.
  • Use room temperature wet ingredients.
  • Use fresh baking powder.
  • Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
Rainbow Sherbet Cake #cakebycourtney #rainbowsherbetcake #yellowcake #yellowcakerecipe #rainbowsherbetcakerecipe #rainbow #springcake #cake

Rainbow Sherbet Cake

5 from 9 votes
Tender yellow cake layers with raspberry lime curd and orange buttercream.
Servings 1 3-layer, 8-inch cake



  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (72.6 g) canola oil 
  • 1 teaspoon (5.6 g) salt
  • 2 cups (400) g granulated sugar
  • 5 whole eggs at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks at room temperature
  • 3 cups (345 g) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons (8) g baking powder
  • 1 cup (240 g) sour cream at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) clear vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4.2 g) butter extract  


  • 1 cup (125g) raspberries
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) grated lime zest
  • 1/2 cup (121 g) lime juice (about three large limes)
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • 4 teaspoons (10.8 g) corn starch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) cold unsalted butter  cut into small cubes


  • 2 cups (452 g) unsalted butter slightly cold
  • 6 cups (750 g) powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (43.3 g) heavy cream
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 teaspoons (12.6 g) orange emulsion (or extract)
  • Pink, green and orange food gel (optional)
  • *This buttercream recipe makes enough to fill and cover your cake. If you want to add additional piping, you’ll want to make an extra ½ batch.



  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick spray, line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.
  • In a medium size bowl, stir together the cake flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, canola oil, and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time to the bowl and beat on medium until well incorporated.
  • Turn the mixer on low and add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture until fully incorporated. Then the sour cream and blend well. Finish by adding the remaining flour mixture and mix until combined.
  • Add the clear vanilla extract and butter extract and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix on low for another 30 seconds.
  • Evenly distribute the cake batter among the three pans and bake for about 23-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
  • Remove cakes from the oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks to cool completely.


  • Puree the raspberries and lime juice in a blender. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan, pushing it through with a rubber spatula. Rinse the sieve – you’ll be using it again.
  • Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, lime zest, and salt into the raspberry puree. Whisk in the egg yolk. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it’s thick like pudding, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time until incorporated.
  • Strain the mixture through the sieve into a small bowl, pushing it through with rubber spatula. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely set, at least 4 hours and up to 5 days. 


  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  • Turn the mixer to low and gradually add the powdered sugar, followed by the cream, salt and orange emulsion. Mix until combined. Add food gel, if using. Mix until incorporated completely.
  • Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat the frosting for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove bowl from the mixer stand and use a wooden spoon to beat the frosting by hand for about 2 minutes to push out any air pockets. 


  • Spread a small dollop of frosting onto a cake board. Place the first layer of cake, top side up, on the board.
  • Spread a thin layer of frosting over the cake layer and pipe a rim of frosting around the edge of the cake to create a barrier to the filling. Spread about ⅓ cup of the curd in the center of the cake, carefully spreading it to the edge of the piping.
  • Place a second cake layer on top of the piped frosting and filling and repeat step 2. Place the final cake layer, top side down, on the second layer of filling.
  • Lightly coat the cake with a thin layer of frosting to lock in the crumbs. Freeze the cake for about 10 to 15 minutes to set the frosting.
  • Finish frosting and decorating the cake with the remaining frosting.
  • The cake can be stored in the freezer for about a week, in an airtight container. Give the cake about 8 hours to return to room temperature before serving.
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Cake
Keyword: Orange Buttercream, Rainbow, Rainbow Sherbet, Raspberry Curd, Sherbet, Yellow Cake

Join the Conversation

  1. Hi Courtney! I love your cakes & look at your perfection of an Instragram daily. I am currently looking for the perfect recipes to make a vanilla cake with lemon curd and vanilla buttercream layers this week. Would this yellow cake recipe work for that? Want to make sure I pick something nice and light/fluffy so it’s not too dense with the lemon. Thanks so much!!

    1. I actually think my Lemon Poppyseed Cake without the poppyseeds or my white cake from my funfetti cake would be best with lemon curd and vanilla buttercream.

  2. This cake looks delicious. I’m wanting to try the raspberry lemon curd. Can I use frozen raspberries instead of fresh? Thanks!

  3. Karen Osborne says:

    What size cake pan are most of your cakes? Also, is it totally necessary to use unsalted butter??

    1. I typically use three 8″x2″ cake pans and yes, use unsalted butter because you’re adding salt in the recipe elsewhere and you’d have a lot of salt if you use salted butter.

  4. Hi Courtney! I was wondering if I could make a straight raspberry curd from your curd recipe by omitting the lime juice and zest and maybe adding another cup of raspberries?

  5. 5 stars
    This was SO good! Tasted exactly like the ice cream! Will definitely be making for the next summer gathering.

  6. 5 stars
    I made this recipe for my mom’s birthday and it was perfect. As described and tasted just like rainbow sherbet. Made no changes to the recipe and it was fantastic. It was also much easier to make than anticipated. Will definitely be making this one again.

    1. Thank you!!!

  7. Planning to make this one for my daughter’s birthday this week and she is so excited. Wanted to ask the difference between orange emulsion and orange extract.. orange extract is obviously easier to find and get on time, but I found some orange emulsion a bit of a drive away. Do you think there’s enough of a difference in taste to make it worth the extra effort?

    1. Either will be fine.

  8. 5 stars
    I made two of your cakes for my daughter’s birthday, the vanilla and the sherbet. Both were fantastic, but the sherbet was BY FAR the crowd favorite. Family is still raving about it and asking for the recipe!
    I made no changes. Absolutely perfect!

    1. Thank you so much!!

  9. Brittany Cake says:

    Hi Courtney! This is a beautiful cake. I want to make it for my daughters birthday but was wondering if you could share how you did the frosting to get that blended effect with the different colors?
    Thank you,
    Brittany Cake

    1. You bet! I use piping bags to pipe on the colors and then just use my straight scraper to smooth and they naturally blend together as I smooth the sides.

  10. 5 stars
    Every recipe I’ve used here has been amazing, and this one is no different. Party host demanded cupcakes for convenience and this translated well, coring the cupcakes to fill with the curd. Halved everything for the cake and the buttercream ingredients, and that made 14 cupcakes for me. I made all the curd and really used just about all of it to fill the cupcakes, plus my gratuitous personal spoonfuls…ya know, just wanted to make sure it tasted good. Baked at 350 and pulled them out around the 19-20 minute mark. So cute with the tricolored frosting and totally is a delicious bite of rainbow sherbet when it’s all put together. Thanks!

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