Rainbow-Surprise Lemon Cake & Surprise-Inside Cakes Cookbook Giveaway

by Erin

Traditionally frosting is the star of cake decorating, but what about the inside? Amanda Rettke proves that it’s the inside that counts with her cookbook, “Surprise-Inside Cakes”.

SurpriseInsideCakes hc c

When it comes to decorating cakes I am not an expert. Upon receiving the Surprise-Inside Cakes cookbook by Amanda Rettke (I Am Baker) I was a bit intimidated to go beyond the recipes for different layers of color and/or frosting without any cutting and cake-puzzle-assembling. It is truly impressive how many different interiors she was able to design and execute. But after reading through a few of the more complicated recipes I realized that with the right tools and some patience, paired with her excellent step-by-step photos and directions, I might be able to pull it off.

I really loved the smiley face cake and argyle cake but decided to start out small with one of the easier recipes – the rainbow cake. First I had to decide on a cake flavor. Amanda provides recipes for perfectly level cakes and frostings which can be used to create any of the surprise-inside cakes. However, you could also use your own recipe or even a boxed mix, I won’t tell. If using other recipes you may end up with a domed top which will need to be leveled off, unless of course you know that particular recipe does come out flat. Either way, a cake with these interior designs will look made from scratch no matter what recipe you choose.

Rainbow Balloon Lemon Cake 1

To see if a boxed mix would work, I decided to doctor up a white cake mix to create a lemon cake. (Did you know that rainbows taste like lemons? Well, at least this one does.) The cakes did dome but that was easily solved by slicing off the tops with a long serrated knife. After that I followed Amanda’s detailed instructions for assembling and frosting the cakes. I don’t think I’ve ever frosted such a smooth cake before.

Rainbow Balloon Lemon Cake 2

Upon that beautiful white scene I created my own balloon decorations using the cake-top scraps and leftover frosting. It looks like fondant doesn’t it!? Nope it’s something even better, something I have decided to call cake-ball-fondant! Yup, I am a genius. Instead of forming balls to be dipped in chocolate, roll flat with a rolling pin and cut out shapes with cookies cutters. Consider your mind blown.

Rainbow Balloon Lemon Cake 3

In order to find out exactly how I colored and assembled this cake you’ll have to read about it in the Surprise-Inside Cakes cookbook! To assist in keeping a copy into your hands asap I am giving away a copy of this awesome cookbook to one lucky reader. After checking out the recipe use the Rafflecopter widget at the bottom of this post to enter.

Rainbow Balloon Lemon Cake 4

One year ago: Baked Eggs with Crispy Hash Brown Crust

Two years ago: Cheesy Cat Treats

Three years ago: Funfetti Cake Batter Smoothie


Serves 12-16



1 box white cake mix

3 eggs, room temperature

1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tsp lemon extract

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup vanilla or plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani)


8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease two 8-inch cake pans (or three 6-inch cake pans).
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, lemon juice, extract, milk and sour cream until smooth. Sift in cake mix*.
  3. Divide evenly between prepared baking pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes (25-28 minutes for 6-inch) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  4. While the cake cools, prepare the frosting. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until blended. Add the sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated. Add the vanilla. Increase the speed to high, and mix until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add a tablespoon of milk or more powdered sugar to reach desired consistency. Store in the refrigerator until somewhat stiff before using. (May be stored in the refrigerator for 3 days.)
  5. Once the cake is cool, slice off the top to level if necessary. Frost the top of one cake, stack the other on top and finish frosting. Decorate if desired. (I mixed up the cake-top scraps and leftover frosting, rolled out like sugar cookie dough, and cut out circles and little triangles to make balloons. The “strings” are piped black frosting.)

* To find out how I made the inside of this cake, pick up a copy of Surprise-Inside Cakes by Amanda Rettke.

Source: Cake adapted from Your Cup of Cake, cake interior from Surprise-Inside Cakes, and frosting adapted from my Green Velvet Cake.

Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary copy of Surprise-Inside Cakes by Jill Browning PR. Giveaway provided by Jill Browning PR. I was not compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Michelle Humann April 10, 2014 - 12:40 pm

I love the surprise inside!!

Emily @ Life on Food April 9, 2014 - 1:26 pm

I would give the cake to my mom. She would be so shocked and love every bit of the surprise. Of course she would want to know in great detail how it was done.

Julie @White Lights on Wednesday April 9, 2014 - 10:36 am

I’d make my boys the best birthday cakes ever!

Kellie April 8, 2014 - 3:47 pm

I would surprise my mother on her birthday.

barbara n April 8, 2014 - 7:15 am

My daughter is turning 30 this year! So I would love to surprise her with a surprise-inside cake!

Debbie Caraballo April 7, 2014 - 11:51 pm

I would surprise my grandchildren with a surprise inside cake. They would love it! Thanks for the chance to win. Found your blog through Lori Lange.

Ariana April 7, 2014 - 10:39 pm

Brilliant recipe, I can’t wait to try it! I bet my nephews will like it, I’ll have to save it for when they come over! ♥
I love your blog so much! Thank you for all the amazing recipes! ☺

Roxana April 7, 2014 - 4:24 pm

I’m thinking of making a “surprise inside” cake for my nephew’s birthday. I love the balloons on yours! :)

itzia April 7, 2014 - 10:51 am

i would surprise my little sister.

Ronisha April 6, 2014 - 3:58 pm

This intimidating but I’m up for the challenge! :-) Would be awesome for my daughters first birthday!

Susan April 5, 2014 - 11:21 pm

My daughter at her spring bridal shower!!!

CakePants April 5, 2014 - 10:29 pm

What a fun, beautiful cake!! I’m definitely impressed with how smooth the frosting looks. It would be really fun to make a surprise cake for my boyfriend on his next birthday…I’ll have to start brainstorming!

spiffycookie April 5, 2014 - 11:37 pm

Thanks! I was pretty proud by how well I smoothed out that frosting.

Dad April 5, 2014 - 4:42 pm

Not only did this cake look wonderful, It tasted great!

keshakeke April 5, 2014 - 3:57 pm

I would surprise my daughter

Carolyn April 5, 2014 - 2:48 pm

How fun! I would surprise my pregnant friend baking a cake for her shower!

Cate @ Chez CateyLou April 5, 2014 - 2:31 pm

I would love to surprise my husband! Your cake looks amazing btw!!

Jeffrey April 5, 2014 - 1:38 pm

I would surprise my youngest son, the look on his face would be priceless!

Emily @ It Bakes Me Happy April 5, 2014 - 9:06 am

My daughter, her birthday is coming up soon!

theresa krier April 5, 2014 - 2:30 am

my granddaughter is going to turn 16 next month, i would love to fix her a cake like she’s never had & i know she’s never had a surprise cake because i make all the cakes, love it! thanks so much for the chance to win such a beautiful book.

Elizabeth April 5, 2014 - 1:32 am

My boyfriend would love this surprise!

Melissa April 5, 2014 - 1:29 am

My sister for her birthday in a few weeks!

Meriem April 5, 2014 - 12:10 am

My nephew!

Zainab April 4, 2014 - 10:43 pm

Really beautiful cake!! I’m loving her book so much!!

libby April 4, 2014 - 10:08 pm

I would make a cake to surprise my family when they all come to eat Sunday lunch at my house!

Phyllis April 4, 2014 - 8:14 pm

I would love to surprise my daughter with this vibrant color cake for her upcoming birthday this month.

Janet T April 4, 2014 - 7:36 pm

I would surprise my son on his 18th birthday.

Leslie April 4, 2014 - 7:30 pm

I would practice on hubby, until my grandbaby is old enough to enjoy a surprise.

meredith April 4, 2014 - 7:11 pm

My son!! He would love this

Samantha April 4, 2014 - 6:59 pm

I loooove that cake….that is so awesome, surely a show stopper at any party. I’d love to surprise my husband with the heart one inside for our anniversary.

Annette April 4, 2014 - 6:39 pm

The first cake I’d bake would be for my best friend who has a big birthday coming up.

Carla April 4, 2014 - 6:29 pm

Adorable!! My kids would love it!

LauriM April 4, 2014 - 3:16 pm

I would surprise myself by actually making a cake like the ones in the book and then I would give it to my grandma for her birthday.

Lena jones April 4, 2014 - 12:57 pm

Me!!! I love to bake and would really enjoy this!

Lori @ RecipeGirl April 4, 2014 - 12:50 pm

Absolutely adorable!!!!

Kaylin @ Enticing Healthy Eating April 4, 2014 - 12:44 pm

I would like to surprise my mother on Mother’s Day this year with these lovely cakes

Tonia April 4, 2014 - 12:25 pm

It turned out great!

Jocelyn (Grandbaby Cakes) April 4, 2014 - 10:15 am

This book is so fantastic isn’t it? I Am Baker really outdid herself!

Kelster April 4, 2014 - 9:56 am

I have a special anniversary coming up that I’d love to make a surprise-inside cake for. Of course, I’d know what’s inside but the people around me would be completely surprised!

Mind. Blown.


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