watercolour drip layer cake

watercolour drip cake 1

Prepare yourself for the mother of all recipes as I bring you… my attempt at the cake of the moment {aka. a super tall, crazily decorated, Katherine Sabbath-inspired number}.

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We’re rapidly approaching the end of our tenancy in Bristol so cleaning of an epic scale is taking place. It is exhausting. I’ve spent the past couple of hours scrubbing at the oven whilst trying not to inhale the Mr Muscle fumes, and there is still a thick layer of grime that refuses to budge. Hence here I am taking a tactical break with a cup of tea and enjoying my favourite sunny spot on the sofa.

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I’ve been wanting to make a cake like this for ages, but never really had an occasion to. {In fact, check out my bakers that inspire me post from ages ago, Katherine Sabbath is on there!} As it turns out when I finally got round to it I still didn’t have a reason, apart from ‘F*** it, I have a lot of free time now’. It was definitely a challenge, but I was pleased with how it turned out considering it was a first attempt at a cake like this! If you want more inspiration, make sure to check out Katherine’s Instagram, as well as the accounts for Unbirthday Bakery and Cakes by Cliff.

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And with that, back to the oven I go… 😰

Watercolour Drip Layer Cake

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Recipe Notes:

  • I only had one 7″ tin so baked the cakes individually, spreading it out over the course of a day. The cake is very dense, so you may prefer to make a sponge, but I’m not sure how structurally sound it would be.
  • I would pick more pastel, complementary colours for the watercolour effect in future! I was a bit heavy-handed with the food colouring.
  • The ganache was way too runny on my first attempt, so it would be best to chill it for a while. Unfortunately once you start on the drip, you can’t go back!
  • Useful tutorials: Katherine Sabbath herself making a watercolour cakedrip cake tutorial from Craftsy


Madeira cake:
  • 500g plain flour
  • 5½ tsp baking powder
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 400g soft, unsalted butter
  • 8 eggs {room temp.}
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Italian meringue buttercream:
  • 400g sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 8 egg whites {I bought a carton of them [this one from Two Chicks]and used 260ml}
  • 454g unsalted butter
  • Sugar thermometer
  • Food colourings
Other fillings and decoration:
  • approx. 150g lemon curd
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 100ml double cream
  • food colouring
  • assorted sweets and sprinkles


Madeira cakes:

Preheat your oven to 140*C and line two 7″ circular tins with greaseproof paper.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then slowly add the eggs, beating after each addition.

In a separate bowl, sieve together the flour and baking powder. Fold into the egg mixture, along with the vanilla. Mix with electric beaters for a minute or two to ensure everything is well combined.

Divide equally between tins and bake each one for around 75 minutes. Start checking after 60.

Remove from tins and leave to cool completely.

Italian Meringue Buttercream:

Make sure you’ve got everything weighed out and prepared before you start: put the sugar and water in a saucepan along with the thermometer, chop up the butter into small chunks, clean your mixing bowl thoroughly {with a little vinegar} and then add your egg whites.

Heat the water and sugar on a medium heat, stirring occasionally.

As the temperature approaches 230*F, start to whip the egg whites until you have stiff peaks.

When the syrup reaches 240*F, turn off the heat and pour it into the egg whites in a thin steady stream, beating all the time. The mixture should become glossy.

Continue to beat until the bowl is room temperature, and then add the butter a few chunks at a time {how I wished I had a stand mixer}.

If the mixture curdles, continue to beat it. It may need warming up slightly if the butter is too cold. Eventually it will thicken and turn into a beautiful buttercream.

Cover with clingfilm and put into the fridge if you’re not using it immediately. However, make sure it’s room temperature before you use it to ice the cake.


Level the cakes and divide into two/three layers depending on how tall they are. Set the first layer on a serving plate/cake stand and spread a liberal amount of lemon curd on top. Follow this with a layer of buttercream. Repeat until all the layers are in place.

Check that the layers are all evenly aligned and then cover the cake in a thin layer of buttercream to lock in all the crumbs. Be careful not to introduce crumbs into your bowl of buttercream. Chill the cake for at least 15 mins.

Divide the remaining buttercream into 4 bowls and dye it with food colouring, mixing thoroughly. Randomly apply blobs of each colour onto the cake. Using a cake scraper or a palette knife, very slowly scrape away the excess so that the colours blend into one another. If there are any air pockets or gaps, leave them for now and fill them with the scraped-off buttercream once you’ve finished.

Cover the top with the remaining buttercream, but it doesn’t need to be too neat as it will be covered with ganache later. Use a palette knife to define the top edge of the cake. When you’re happy, return the cake to the fridge – but it’s important to know when to stop!


Chop up the white chocolate as finely as possible and place in a heat safe bowl. Heat the double cream until nearly-boiling and then pour over the chocolate. Leave for a minute or so, then mix until smooth.

Add desired food colouring and mix thoroughly. Leave to cool for a little while, until it’s pourable but not too runny.

Retrieve the cake and use a spoon or a piping bag to drizzle the ganache on the top edge so it runs over the side. Once you’re happy, fill in the top with more ganache.

Decorate with sweets and sprinkles

8 thoughts on “watercolour drip layer cake

  1. Absolutely loving your super tall watercolour drizzle cake Hannah. I’ve been loving looking at these types of cakes on Instagram and am really looking forward to an occasion when I have an excuse to give it a go. I love how super smooth you’ve applied your icing and your cake toppers are lovely – especially the white chocolate star.
    Angela x


    • Thanks Angela! I went on a trip to an old-fashioned sweet shop (for “research”, of course 😉 ) and used some of the sweets I found on top – a bit more exciting than using smarties or something similar!
      Hannah 🙂


  2. Omg, this look like a work of art!! You’ve done an amazing job at this!! 🙂

    Pop over to my blog!



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