Purple Ombre Cake

Learn how to make this gorgeous 4 layer Purple Ombre Cake with vanilla buttercream icing. A perfect dessert for spring, Easter or birthdays.

Table of Contents
  1. About this Purple Ombre Cake:
  2. How to Make Box Cake Mix Better
  3. Ingredients Needed
  4. Tips for Making Purple Ombre Cake
  5. Storage Instructions
  6. Purple Ombre Cake Recipe

Whatever occasion you may have coming up, this Purple Ombre Cake will make quite the presentation. It stands tall at 4 layers high, but is still 9″ round. This cake will feed a crowd.

Use the purple food coloring or any color you’d like to make this semi-homemade layer cake.

purple ombre cake with a spatula holding a slice of cake

About this Purple Ombre Cake:

  • Flavor: Vanilla is the primary flavor in this recipe. Add a few drops of natural lavender flavor which would pair well with the purple color if you’d like.
  • Texture: This cake is soft and extremely moist, thanks to the addition of sour cream and pudding mixes plus the box ingredients.

How to Make Box Cake Mix Better

There are several ingredients you can add to a cake mix to make it taste more like homemade. One of those is sour cream and another is dry instant pudding mix. The sour cream adds fat and moisture to the cake, keeping it soft. The pudding mix adds flavor and helps the cake be a little more dense, giving it good structure to hold the 4 layers.

You can also switch out the water for milk and use melted butter in place of the oil.

Ingredients Needed

  • Box cake mix: I used Duncan Hines. Each box was 15.25 ounces.
  • Water
  • Oil: Vegetable, canola or melted coconut oil work well.
  • Eggs: If you want pure white cake with no yellowish tinge, use only egg whites.
  • Sour cream: Use whole milk plain greek yogurt if you’d like.
  • Instant vanilla pudding mix: I don’t recommend sugar free pudding.
  • Food coloring: Gel food coloring colors so much more vibrantly even when using less.
  • Salted butter: Use only 100% real butter for frosting. Margarine will not work well.
  • Powdered sugar
  • Vanilla bean paste: If you don’t have this, use vanilla extract. Or almond would be delicious too.
  • Heavy cream: This is to thin the buttercream to make it easier to spread.
4 cake layers and a bowl of frosting

Tips for Making Purple Ombre Cake

  • Cake mixes vary in ounces based on brands (and over time they change as well). As long as you use a box cake mix that is meant to fill a 9×13″ baking pan, it will work for this recipe.
  • Do not overmix the cake mix as this will cause the gluten to over develop in turn causing the cake to be rubbery or crumbly. Mix until the flour has become incorporated.
  • Divide the cake batter between the pans as evenly as possible.
  • Bake even cake strips are a great tool for making cakes rise as evenly as possible with a flat surface.
  • Since there are 4 round pans, your oven will be full. Place the pans on the same oven rack and allow about 2″ between each pan for air circulation. If your oven is too small, bake two pans first, then bake the other two.
  • If the frosting is too thick, simply mix in 1-2 tablespoons of heavy cream at a time until you have reached an agreeable consistency. If the frosting becomes too thin, mix in 2-3 Tbs of powdered sugar at a time until it is thick enough.
the inside of a purple ombre cake

Storage Instructions

Cake may be stored in an airtight container at room temp for 2 days or in the fridge for up to 5 days.

a slice of 4 layer ombre cake on a plate
a slice of 4 layer ombre cake on a plate

Purple Ombre Cake

5 from 1 vote
Learn how to make this gorgeous 4 layer Purple Ombre Cake with vanilla buttercream icing. A perfect dessert for spring, Easter or birthdays.
Servings 15
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the Cake:

  • 3 boxes white cake mix* (15.25 ounces each)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 9 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 small boxes instant vanilla pudding mix (3.4 oz packages)
  • purple food coloring

For the Frosting:

  • 1 ½ cups salted butter room temperature
  • 4 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons heavy cream as needed
  • purple sanding sugar if desired

Instructions
 

Make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the bottom of four 9” round cake pans (that are at least 2" deep)** with parchment paper. Spray with baking spray. If you don't have parchment paper, grease the pans with cake release to ensure they come out cleanly.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry cake mix, water, oil, egg whites, sour cream and vanilla pudding mixes. Using a hand mixer works well to make sure this is all combined since it is a large amount of batter. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing.
  • Divide the cake into 4 separate bowls. Add 3 drops of purple food coloring to one bowl, 2 drops to another bowl and 1 drop to a third bowl. (Or use as much food coloring as you'd like, in decreasing amounts.) Leave one bowl of cake batter uncolored. Mix the food coloring into the cake batter until it is fully colored.
  • Pour the cake batter evenly into the prepared cake pans. Place the pans into the oven to bake for 28-30 minutes or per the time indicated on the cake box. The top of the cake should spring back when you touch it.
  • Once baked, remove the cakes from the oven and place them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting:

  • A note about the frosting: For a naked cake with visible layers, make just one recipe of frosting. For a fully frosted cake, make 1 ½ -2 full recipes of the frosting.
  • To make the frosting, cream the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes or until it is well creamed and almost white in appearance.
  • Add the remaining ingredients. Beat together on high speed for 2-3 minutes or until a smooth and fluffy frosting has formed. If the buttercream is too thick, add heavy cream a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you'd like.
  • To frost the cake, place the darkest purple cake layer onto a cake stand or serving plate. If you so desire, slice the domed tops off of the cake layers for a more even final cake. Spread ⅓ cup of frosting over the surface of the cake. Place the medium colored layer of cake onto the bottom layer, ensuring that the cakes line up and that the top layer does not hang off of the bottom layer. Spread about ⅓ cup of frosting over the surface of the cake layer. Place the last colored layer of cake onto the frosted cake. Frost with ⅓ cup of frosting.
  • Finally, place the yellow or white layer onto the cake. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. For added effect, press purple sanding sugar onto the bottom and partially up the sides of the cake.
  • If you would like to add little frosting swirls to the top of the cake, add a dot of purple food coloring about ½ cup of frosting. Spoon the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a tip of your choice (I like Wilton 1M or 2D). Pipe the frosting swirls onto the top of the cake after it is frosted.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.

Notes

*I used Duncan Hines. 
**This makes a lot of batter for a tall cake. Make sure that your cake pans are at least 2″ deep so the batter doesn’t overflow.
Refer to the article above for more tips and tricks.
The calories shown are based on the cake being cut into 9 pieces, with 1 serving being 1 slice of cake. Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 740kcal | Carbohydrates: 121g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 1006mg | Potassium: 126mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 80g | Vitamin A: 707IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 254mg | Iron: 2mg
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Calories 740
Keyword 4 layer cake, birthday cake, ombre cake

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This looks good! I want to make it, but I only have 2 9″pans. Can I make the two at a time then the other 2 after they’re done?