"Baking in our house was a way to show people you loved them," cookbook author Molly Yeh says of the cupcake-making moments she shared as a kid with her mom. Now a mother herself, the 31-year-old behind the Food Network show Girl Meets Farm that's filmed out of her Minnesota home and the blog My Name Is Yeh carries on the tradition with her 2-year-old daughter, Bernie. Yeh's love language of choice these days: from-scratch layer cakes. Her colorful creations—rainbow sprinkles and marzipan add-ons make frequent appearances—have the power to elicit heart eyes from both kids and adults, making them showstoppers fully worth the production for birthdays and other biggish celebrations. Little hands can help. Yeh has been finding ways for Bernie to be sous chef, adding either frosting or premeasured ingredients. "Having a family cake recipe you can go back to year after year and build memories around," Yeh says, "is what baking is all about."
Yeh wanted a rainbow effect for Bernie's first birthday. What she didn't want was a cake heavy on artificial ingredients. Her brilliant solution? Store-bought carrot and beet juices and mint leaves. (Don't worry: All you'll taste is a color explosion.)
"Bernie will cover anything and everything with sprinkles," Yeh says. "She is my child, after all!" Yeh loves both naturally colored and traditional sprinkles but says the latter are the better choice for this cake. They create the classic confetti effect and add color that won't bleed too much into the layers.
Yeh says you can freeze the layers in advance to get some work out of the way. When it's time to assemble, the frozen pieces are easier to handle and frost.
"Bernie's number-one favorite food in the whole world is blueberries," says Yeh. The fruit is what gives this cake its cool spots and lavender hue, but it's the marzipan "stickers" she uses to decorate that will really bring on the oohs and aahs.