Friday, January 17, 2014

Five Shades of Grey Ombre Cake

Let me say first off. I have never read 50 Shades of Grey or do I intend to in the near future.  Although I am a voracious reader, I usually shy away from overhyped books.  Technically this cake has three shades of grey plus one black and one white layer. So five total.

It was my boss's birthday last week. Everything I needed to pull off a super cool graffiti covered cake idea was in the pantry of my Pennsylvania kitchen.  Great. Time to improvise. So the night before the birthday I pulled everything out of my NYC kitchen cabinets and tried to summon some creative idea. Unfortunately,  only some sad lack of ingredients were facing me on the counter. Food coloring and a lump of white homemade marshmallow fondant.

Think. Lora. Think.

In addition to being the owner of the media agency where I work, my boss is a world class photographer. I kept thinking black and white photography and I know it's abstract but this cake was born the night before out of my lack of decorating supplies and an overworked abstract imagination.

Forgoing the fondant, I worked the food coloring angle.

In the end I was sort of happy with it. Before he cut it, I told everyone there was a surprise inside and one colleague asked if there was a teeny tiny stripper waiting to pop out.  Now that's an inspirational idea for all those talented bakers out there who put hearts and polkadots inside cakes. Bring on the stripper surprise cake for sure.

After the cake was cut, someone remarked it was a 50 shades of grey cake and that's what I went with for the title of this post.

I hope ombre/rainbow cakes never go out of style. The fun of creating them is only matched by the look on people's faces when they are cut open.

Five Shades of Grey Ombre Cake

For the Cake:


Use your favorite white cake recipe. I tried this one from the Food Network.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Spray your round or square pans, flour them and set aside.
  • Divide your cake batter evenly into however many layers you want your cake to have. I do this by weighing the total batter, dividing it by however many layers I want and then putting each layer into a separate bowl.
  • Mix in desired shades of food coloring to each layer.
  • Bake layers until a knife inserted in the middle comes out dry.
  • After baking each layer respray ad flour the pans.
  • Transfer layers to a wire rack and let cool completely before frosting.

For the buttercream frosting:


  • 2 sticks salted butter softened
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons any flavor extract


  • Place the butter, cream and half the sugar in the mixer and beat at a low speed until blended.
  • Stop the mixer and add the rest of the powdered sugar.
  • Beat the sugar in on low speed until blended and then turn the mixer on medium high speed for one minute or so to make sure everything is well blended.


  1. A masterpiece, Lora. The cake has a really light and soft crumb. Irresistible!

  2. This is a gorgeous cake. Grey is the new black in my wardrobe; so a 50 Shades of Grey ombre layer cake is perfect. I'm sure it tasted yummy!

  3. LOVE. I haven't read it either, but I love treats based on pop culture :)

  4. I think that this five shades of grey cake is the perfect cake for a world class photographer and I think it was sweet that you *worked late* the night before to create this cake. Great idea Lora! Happy Birthday to your boss :)

  5. I am so glad I clicked over. Genius. Your best outside of the box. I hate the 50 shades of gray book for all the right reasons, but I love this cake. Gray, black, white, is one of my favorite color schemes.

    1. Don't hate it, looove it ;-D

  6. Lora this is brilliant! I was going to make a fifty layer grey cake for this but then thought that it was too mad. This is much saner and more appealing! :D


Thank you for your comments and feedback. I love hearing from you!