Kaleidoscope Cupcakes Recipe


Quirky, cute, sometimes controversial, always delicious recipes from Jessie Oleson.

Kaleidoscope Cupcakes Recipe

[Photographs and original illustrations: Cakespy]

I was trying to make cakes with polka dots, but it didn't quite work out that way. While my cakes didn't bake with perfect polka dots, I ended up with a pretty, kaleidoscope-like multicolored starburst pattern which was rather sweet and elicited morale-boosting "ooh" and "ahh" sounds when served. Ultimately, they turned out so well that I decided to put the frosting in the middle, sandwich-style, rather than sully the artistic tops.

  • Yield:Makes 24 cupcakes
  • Active time: 30 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour, 30 minutes


  • 3 cups (about 15 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups (about 14 ounces) sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk
  • Various colors food dye
  • 3 cups frosting of your choice (optional)


  1. 1.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

  2. 2.

    Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

  3. 3.

    In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Stir in the vanilla.

  4. 4.

    Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture in 2 or 3 portions, alternately with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Reserve about 1 cup of batter for coloring (keep it to the side).

  5. 5.

    With the larger portion of batter, fill the paper-lined muffin cups halfway full.

  6. 6.

    Divide the 1 cup of batter into several smaller bowls (however many colors you'd like), and tint each portion a different color. Spoon the colored batter into plastic bags or into piping bags. If using plastic bags, cut off a small opening in the corner of the bags so that you will be able to pipe the batter through the openings.

  7. 7.

    Pipe the colored batter on top of the filled cupcake cups in a polka dot pattern, alternating colors and the sizes of the dots.

  8. 8.

    Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before transferring the cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely. If desired, cut each cake in half and put a generous spoonful of frosting in the center, sandwich-style.