Oh No, George! Paper Tube Craft
One Cool Friend

George's Cake

This recipe was inspired by Oh No, George! To learn more about the book and to see all our Oh No, George! activities, click here

We don't feature too many decadent desserts here on Off the Shelf, and when we do they are usually reserved for a very special occasion or celebration. But we figured that it is time for another cake, if only to bring some bright color into the gray winter days. 

The cake in Oh No, George! is bright purple with magenta frosting, so we looked for an healthier alternative to regular food coloring. We found the answer in this rainbow cake made with all natural food colorings. So, our simple vanilla cake is colored bluish-purple with blackberry juice, and the buttercream frosting is colored with beet juice. And rest assured, while the cake and frosting are colored with fruit and vegetable juices, they don't taste at all like blackberries or beets!

Young Readers in the Kitchen

Kids can help to measure and mix ingredients, strain the blackberry juice, and frost the cake. 

Oh No, George! Cake


George's Cake

Inspired by HWTM's Rainbow Cake.


  • 3/4 cup frozen blackberries
  • 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup nonfat yogurt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Place frozen blackberries in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave 1 minute, until berries begin to burst. Strain and reserve juice.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter 2 8-inch round cake pans. 
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. 
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, and vanilla extract. 
  5. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter, oil and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. 
  6. Add egg and mix until combined. 
  7. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/2 of the milk mixture. Repeat with another 1/3 of flour mixture, remaining 1/2 of milk mixture, and rest of flour mixture. Mix until combined. 
  8. Stir in reserved blackberry juice. Make sure to scrape to the bottom of the bowl so that all of the batter is colored. 
  9. Divide batter between the two cake pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center or one cake comes out clean. 
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes before running knife around edge and inverting onto a cooling rack to cool completely. 
  11. Level cakes if necessary. Frost top of one cake with half of the frosting (recipe below). Top with second cake layer and frost top with remaining frosting. 



  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 tablespoons beet juice (from 1 small can of beets)

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat until smooth. 


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