Surf and Sand Birthday Cake

  • Happy Birthday Cameron!

    5th birthday is a big deal.  It marks the beginning of kindergarten and the start of full day elementary school.  It means more friends to play with and more questions to ask your parents when you come home.

    At 5, you understand the concept and your birthday becomes a magical day to look forward to, as with other gift bearing holidays.

    For me, there is nothing better than helping bring happiness and joy to these special occasions.  I thrive off of the smiles that result from something I’ve created.  Sure, its just a birthday cake, but for that one moment, I made someone happy.  I added a little bit of happiness to a family’s memories.

    I made this surf and sand birthday cake for my adorable nephew Cameron’s 5th birthday.  He is such a sweetheart.  He is always smiling and funny to be around.  He’s quite smart and has great memory for such a little boy.  Since he was having a birthday pool party, I thought this cake would be appropriate.
    The top layer is the “wave cake” made of varying shades of blue vanilla cake with Italian meringue buttercream.   All the guests loved the surprise that was covered by the plain white fondant.  I, too, was shocked by how great it turned out.  The adults of the party were more wowed by the bottom tier.  My cousin requested the famous rainbow cake.  Its covered with sky blue colored fondant.  The waves, surfboard and palm trees are made out of a fondant/gum paste mixture.  The sand is crushed graham crackers.
    Cameron couldn’t wait for the cutting for the cake.  Its the peak of the party.  Once the cake is eaten and bellies are full, its finally time to open the presents!

    Rainbow Cake and Wave Cake, adapted from Whisk Kid
    makes 1-8in rainbow cake and 1-6in wave cake


    12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

    4 cups granulated sugar

    10 large egg whites, room temperature and lightly whisked

    3 tsp vanilla paste

    1 cup sour cream, room temperature

    6 cups all-purpose flour

    2 Tbsp baking powder

    2 tsp baking soda

    1 tsp salt

    2 cups whole milk

    Soft Gel Paste***(super red, lemon yellow, electric orange, electric blue, and royal purple)

    ***I use AmeriColor Soft Gel Paste Food Color.  Be sure to use food coloring GEL.  Please do not use liquid food coloring because the batter will be too thin and will not bake off properly.


    1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Gather as many 8” round cake pans as you can find.  I only had two, so I had to clean the pans between baking.  Butter and line the cake round with parchment paper.

    2.  If you have a small mixer, divide the recipe in half and make the cake in two batches.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter.  Add sugar and continue to cream until lighter in color.  Slowly add egg whites to the butter on low-medium speed.  Add vanilla paste and sour cream.  Mix until thoroughly combined.

    3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

    4.  Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to the creamed mixture.  Add the flour in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

    5.  Transfer batter to another bowl and weight it out.  My total weight was 3200 grams.  I used 60% of the batter for the 8” pans and 40% for the 6”pans.  Meaning, 1920 grams reserved for the larger cake and 1280 grams for the smaller cake.  Divide the 1920 grams by 6 and it equals 320 grams.  Measure 320 grams of batter into 6 small bowls.

    6.  Add food coloring to each bowl.  I used about 4-8 drops of coloring for each.  Some colors require more gel than others to get the vibrant hues I wanted.  Be sure to use food gels.  Adding liquid food coloring will make the batter runny and thin.

    7.  Transfer colored batter to prepared cake pans.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until cake is set.  Let cool in pan for 3 minutes before unmolding and allowing to cool completely on the racks.  Continue to bake off cake layers until you have completed all six rainbow colors.

    8.  Divide the remaining 1280 grams of batter into 5.  That should give you 256 grams.  Measure out 256 grams of batter into 5 small bowls.  Add one drop of blue into the first bowl, two drops into the second bowl, three drops into the third bowl, four drops into the fourth bowl, and five drops in the last bowl.  If you want you colors to be darker, continue to add more gel.

    9.  Transfer blue batters into prepared 6-inch pans,  Bake for 13-15 minutes until cake is set.  Let cool in pan slightly before unmolding and allowing to cool completely on the racks.  Continue to cake off cake layers until you have completed all five shads of blue.

    Italian Meringue Buttercream
    double recipe found here.

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    Wow! A cake that’s fun and beautiful! Amazing work, Maryanne. Love the family story.

    Casey Beale

    This Looks INCREDIBLE!!! I’m going to try my hardest to make this (but a Vegan version)! :-)


    This is seriously the most amazing birthday cake. My surfer husband would love it — even in his thirties!


    hey Casey, check out the rainbow vegan version at

    Jeannie Tay

    This is such a beautiful cake! I love it!


    12 oz = 3/4 cup ???? a mistake there ?


      Hi Reena, I have changed it. It’s 12 oz of butter (3 sticks). Thanks for pointing it out!

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