Make a double batch of Classic Vanilla Cake or your favorite white cake recipe. Separate your batter into 5 or 6 different bowls and tint the batter in progressively darker shades using the gel food coloring. (Liquid food coloring can't achieve the same color intensity as gel.) Then bake in separate pans and let cool.
Cake Recipe Tip: A little food coloring can go a long way. Start by adding just one or two drops to the lightest color batter. Once you have the color you want, use a drop or two more in the next color, adding progressively more drops until you've reached your darkest color batter.
Prepare the Buttercream Frosting. Once your cake has cooled, it's time to assemble. Stack the cake layers starting with the darkest on the bottom. Because there are so many layers, it's important to have an even amount of frosting between each layer. To get the same amount of frosting on each layer, use a large closed star tip and piping bag. Pipe frosting in a spiral from the center to the outer edge of each cake layer.
Cake Frosting Tip: Thinner cake layers are more delicate than thicker cake layers, so take care to not to break the cake layer when spreading the frosting.
After frosting in between and stacking each layer, frost the sides of the cake to cover completely.
Now it's time to decorate. Decide what size circles you want on your cake. (For the 5-layer cake pictured, the back of the decorating tip was the perfect size for columns four cirlces high.)
Use the gel food coloring to color four small balls of fondant using the same shading technique you used for the cake batter. Once you're happy with the colors, roll out the fondant as thin as you can, starting with the darkest shade.
Use your circle cutter (or the back of the decorating tip, as pictured) to cut circles out of your thin fondant sheet. Repeat for each shade of fondant, starting with the darkest.
Once you've cut out the darkest circles, press them into the frosted cake, going around the bottom until you've completed the first row.
Take the second-darkest circles and repeat with a second row. Continue with the other shades until you've covered your cake with circles.
Cake Frosting Tip: If the frosting starts to get crusty, spritz the back of the fondant circles (or the undecorated part of the cake) with water so the fondant will stick again.
That's it! Your guests will love your simple, elegantly decorated cake and will be even more impressed when they see the ombre effect inside!
Get the Ombre Layer Cake Recipe!
Ashlee has spent her life in a creative environment. She began in the performing arts as a child, adding makeup and costumes in college. As a mom, she's added chef, event planning, DIY, and more. She has been a professional cake decorator for more than 8 years and loves designing, creating, and teaching cake decorating. Her favorite clients are her own children -- they spend months planning the perfect birthday cake. She teaches cake decorating and more on her blog, I'm Topsy Turvy, and in online video courses.