Raspberry Rose Ombré Cake

raspberry rose ombre cake recipe

Dede was asked by Driscoll’s to develop a show-stopping pink dessert in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 2012. With ombré cakes and rosebud frosting designs being all the rage on Pinterest, this raspberry cake was her result. It’s what we consider a baking “project;” the type of dessert that takes some planning, offers some degree of challenge, will knock your friends’ socks off and leave you feeling quite pleased with yourself – and deservedly so.

This cake uses raspberries to both flavor and color the buttercream while the classic white cake is tinted with rose-pink food coloring, ranging in intensity from the palest pink to a rich, vivid hue. A juicy pile of fresh berries crowns the top as well.

You will need to make two batches of buttercream to have enough for this tall, five-layer cake. A stand mixer is particularly helpful, but the volume of a double batch of the buttercream is still too great to make all at once. The various-colored pink cake layers and buttercream batches can be tailored to your aesthetic. Consider our recommendations for food coloring amounts as a starting point. Chill the crumb-coated cake before applying the decorative roses. If the buttercream is too soft, the roses will slide off the sides of the cake.


Raspberry Rose Ombré Cake
Makes: Serves 12
  • 5¼ cups sifted cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 9 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 2¼ cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  • 2¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Rose or pink gel food coloring, such as Wilton Rose Petal Pink
Buttercream: (You will make this buttercream twice, so make sure you have enough to double the ingredients)
  • 11/4 cups plus ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1½ pounds (3 cups; 6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
  • Rose or Pink gel food coloring, such as Wilton Rose Petal Pink
Four 6-oz. containers Driscoll’s Raspberries, divided
  • 8-inch cardboard cake round
  • Piping bag and large star tip, such as a Wilton 1M tip
  1. For the Cake: Position racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Coat the insides of five 8-inch by 2-inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line bottoms with parchment rounds, then spray parchment.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl to combine and aerate; set aside. Whisk together the egg whites and milk in a small bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl once or twice. Beat in vanilla.
  4. Add the flour mixture in four additions, alternating with the egg white/milk mixture. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth. Scrape a generous 2 ¼ cups of batter into one of the prepared pans and level the top with a small offset spatula; this will be your lightest colored layer. Add a tiny bit of food coloring to the remaining batter, blending well until the color is the same throughout. Scrape another generous 2 ¼ cups batter into another pan, leveling that batter as well. Keep adding tiny amounts of coloring to the batter (use photo as inspiration) with each subsequent layer until you have used up all the batter and you have five distinctly colored layers.
  5. Bake for about 25 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs. The edges will have just begun to come away from the sides of the pan. Cool pans on racks for 10 minutes. Unmold, peel off parchment, and place directly on racks to cool completely. Layers are now ready to fill and frost. Alternatively, double wrap in plastic wrap; store at room temperature if assembling within 24 hours. Layers may be frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost in refrigerator overnight before proceeding.
  6. For the Buttercream: Puree 2 of the raspberry containers in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Press through a fine meshed strainer; you should have about 1 cup seedless puree. Set aside.
  7. Place 1¼ cups of sugar and water in a small pot. Stir to wet sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, swirling the pan occasionally. Dip a pastry brush in cold water and wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the pot once or twice. Allow sugar mixture to boil rapidly as you proceed with egg whites.
  8. Meanwhile, place egg whites in a clean, grease-free mixing bowl and whip until frothy on low speed using the wire-whip attachment of a standing mixer. Add cream of tartar and turn the speed up to medium-high. When soft peaks form, add ⅓ cup sugar gradually. Continue whipping until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  9. Bring the sugar/water mixture to a rapid boil and cook until it reaches 248˚ to 250˚ F. When syrup is ready, pour a thin, steady stream directly over meringue. Do not pour any onto the whip or the sides of the bowl. Whip meringue until cool to the touch; this step is very important and may take several minutes. With the machine running, add butter a couple tablespoons at a time. Keep beating until the buttercream is completely thick, spreadable and smooth. Remove 2½ cups of buttercream and set aside for your lightest buttercream roses.
  10. Repeat steps and make the second batch of buttercream. Combine both batches together (they will now fit in the 5-quart stand-mixer bowl), turn machine to low speed and add ½ cup puree. Gradually increase speed and whip until purée is incorporated and buttercream is smooth and pale pink. Remove 5 cups of buttercream and set aside; this will be for the lightest pink roses as well as for the filling and crumb coat. Add an additional ¼ cup puree to the buttercream and beat until smooth, then also add a little food coloring if necessary (about 1/16th teaspoon to start) to make it slightly darker than the last batch. Beat until smooth; remove 2½ cups and set aside. Add more food coloring, beat until smooth, remove 2½ cups and set aside. Tint remaining buttercream in mixer a little darker still. Your amount of food coloring might vary; just make 5 distinct batches.
  11. For Assembly: Have cake layers and buttercream ready to use. Level any of the cake layers if necessary. Place the lightest colored layer on a cardboard round. Spread a thin even layer of palest pink buttercream on top all the way to the edges. Place the lightest pink cake layer on top, repeat with pale pink buttercream, then continue to build cake with each subsequently darker pink cake layer. When the last layer is in place, apply a thin crumb coat of the palest pink buttercream all over the top and sides of the cake. Chill the cake briefly at this point to help the final rosettes adhere. Measure the cake's height and divide by 4. This number will be the height of your roses.
  12. Place tip inside piping bag and fill with white, un-tinted buttercream. Make a rosette of your desired height as follows (making sure it touches and covers the cardboard round): Start in the center, then slowly swirl the frosting around almost 2 times to make a complete rose. Complete an entire band of roses around the cake (see photo for details). Add the lightest pink buttercream to the bag and make your next row of rosettes, making sure they touch the row below and fill in any spaces (you don’t want to see any cake). Add the next darkest buttercream to the bag and repeat with another row of rosettes. Scrape the next darkest pink buttercream into the bag and make your final row, finishing the sides of the cake. Add the darkest buttercream to your bag and cover the top with more roses. Refrigerate cake at least 2 hours to firm up buttercream, or up to 2 days under a large cake dome. Bring to room temperature before serving. Place a mound of fresh berries, using remaining berries, on the center top of the cake right before serving. Set on a display table and wait for oohs and ahhs.

21 Responses to Raspberry Rose Ombré Cake

  1. Tish August 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    Guess this site is for American bakers only? Pity you don’t offer metric equivalents for measurements/temperatures or a glossary/conversion table for ingredients.

    • Dede Wilson August 17, 2013 at 11:11 am #

      Tish, thank you for perusing the site and taking such an interest. As you can see we are in beta mode, which means there are many great features to come and addressing metric is certainly one of them. We live in a global digital world and we want to embrace as many bakers as possible. Thank you again for your interest, and keep checking back for all the increased functionality we have in store.

      • Laura August 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

        Yes, metric would be wonderful! I am looking forward to what this website has to offer. It looks great already.

    • alanna September 10, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

      search internet you’ll find conversions

  2. D August 18, 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Hi Dede,
    What a lovely and beautiful cake! I must say, I’ve never tried a cake made with 9 egg whites (especially when not beating into a meringue that’s then folded into the batter). Can you describe the difference and benefits of this recipe? Much thanks

    • Dede Wilson August 19, 2013 at 11:50 am #

      Thank you for writing and you are very perceptive in noticing how the egg whites are handled. Years ago the folks over at Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen did some white cake research and declared that using raw liquid egg whites worked the best. Another way to look at it was that they didn’t find much difference between the versions with liquid egg whites and the cakes using beaten egg whites, which is traditional. I headed straight to the kitchen to do my own comparison – this was so many years ago I don’t even remember when – and found them to be spot on! Wow, that’s a time and energy saver tip for sure and I have been doing it this way every since. Note that the ombré cake is over-sized and the recipe can be scaled down. We will be posting a basic two-layer white cake recipe soon. If you make this cake, let us know. We would love to see pictures! We have developed a spot for community photos on our facebook page and they are starting to come in. Also, we probably don’t have to point this out but we will anyway…this cake is what we call a “project” cake. We almost didn’t include it upon launch as we don’t want to scare people away. There are plenty of very quick and easy recipes on the site, but if you are up for a challenge and are looking for one of those desserts that makes all your friend’s eyes pop out of their heads, then this is it! Happy Baking and Welcome to Bakepedia – Dédé

  3. Melanie October 3, 2013 at 5:10 am #

    Can I ask what pipping tip you used to create the rosettes? Your cake is stunning!

    • Dede Wilson October 3, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      The tip is our beloved 1-M by Wilton. We even wrote an ode to it in the post The Best Star Tip Ever. It is going to rock your world! Dede will be teaching this cake in an upcoming class at King Arthur Flour in Norwich, VT. Stay tuned for details.

  4. Marianne boice October 11, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    Dede I love love your a baker’s field guide to cupcakes and cookies book!!
    By the way I would love to make this cake can I make it in advance and freeze it?

    • Dede Wilson October 11, 2013 at 6:43 am #

      Thank you for the compliments. We will be bringing some recipes from those books to the site very shortly! I am not a huge lover of freezing finished cakes. I prefer to freeze cake layers alone or, best case scenario, have the cake assembled through the crumb coat. This way that layer of buttercream seals the cake and prevents drying out. Then those gorgeous swirls can be applied shortly before serving. In theory, however, since it is IMBC, which freezes well…you could give it a try. Maybe within a large airtight plastic cake dome to protect it. You sound adventurous! Let us know if you do and how it works out.

  5. Marianne boice October 13, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    Dede your cupcake book really inspire me to bake!! Today I found a key lime pie recipe and it’s the best and easiest key lime pie I ever had! I was reading your book and I saw the key lime coconut cupcakes, hhhhmmmmmmm how if I use this key lime pie filling to fill the yellow cupcakes its happened I had a left over of your yellow cupcakes from yesterday then I frost of your fluffy meringue frosting OMG!!! It was the best combination my husband ate 6 of them hahahahahahahahhaha!!!

    • Dede Wilson October 14, 2013 at 8:42 am #

      This is why I develop recipes! My hope is that they become springboards for one’s own creativity! They sound delicious. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas.

  6. Marianne boice October 22, 2013 at 11:52 pm #

    Dede first thank you for sharing your recipe, and your tips are very helpful I finally made this cake turn out great your right every body’s eyes pup up lol it’s a good feeling hearing everybody talked about it! At first I intimadate to make it because it’s lots of job my friend want me to make a cup cakes for her wedding, but one of our friend challenge me to make a cake! I was thinking if I really want to accept that challenge I never made a wedding cake before and I’m just a beginner on baking,5 days before the wedding I decided to make a cake but I want something unique and this cake is almost like a bride dress the rose and the color it’s perfect!!! But I didn’t tell anybody that I’m going to make it because I’m so worried how if I fail? So I made the frosting 3 day ahead and the cake a day before!! When I made the frosting they come out perfect I feel confident,until the day of putting it together the frosting is to hard so I put it on hot bath then the butter melt,, OMG I’m so worried I don’t know what to do, I told my self thank god I didn’t tell anybody I’m making a cake, thank god my friend still there and she knows a little bit about baking, she made a marangue and mix it to my butter cream they turn out good thank GOD!!!! It’s time to pipe the rose And I’m not good of pipping yet hahahahahahaha see how I am I had to remove and re pipe the frosting I start to overwhelm I can’t make it!!!!! I had to step out to relax my self and keep saying I can do it!!! And I go back and finish the cake I finally did it!!’ OMG!! I was so happy I didn’t give up!!! It’s worth it!! The feeling is priceless when everybody keep telling me how much they love the cake!!! So again thank you!!! For all your tips!!! I’ll send you the pic hope u can get it!!

    • Dede Wilson October 23, 2013 at 7:26 am #

      Marianne, what a nice comment! We consider that recipe a “project” cake and it is certainly one that takes time and attention to detail, but as you experienced, the rewards are great. Thank you for sharing your story; sometimes baking does demand persistence! We would love to see a pic. You can email one to dede@bakepedia.com. We wish you continued joy and success in the kitchen.

  7. Marianne boice October 24, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

    So dede what else I can do if the buttercream melt??

    • Dede Wilson October 24, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

      Marianne, I would be happy to help if I had more information. Feel free to email me at dede@bakepedia.com and describe the situation to me. There is always a solution!

  8. Baking Friends Forever January 25, 2014 at 6:43 am #

    Beautiful cake, love your piping skills!

    • Dede Wilson January 25, 2014 at 8:06 am #

      Thank you. It’s that Wilton 1M tip. It is amazing and every cake decorator should have one!

  9. terri June 9, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Hello! I am wanting to make this cake, however due to personal preferences of my guests, I will be needing to change the icing to cream cheese. Can you tell me the approximate volume of icing that this recipe makes so I can make an adequate amount of a cream cheese recipe? Also, If you have a link to a great cream cheese icing recipe that will work well with the raspberry puree, that would be wonderful. Thank you!

  10. Elfie February 9, 2017 at 6:18 pm #

    Hi there,

    I’m planning on making this Raspberry Rose Cake for 50 people for my niece’s baptism and I would like to know if 5 layers are enough? What size of cake pans should I use? Also how much of buttercream should I make to cover it all?
    I would highly appreciate if you could let me know at your earliest convenience since I need to go and buy the cake pans…
    Many thanks!!!

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