Easy Marble Layer Cake Recipe

While I love to come up with my own ideas for cakes, I also love hearing your suggestions, and making what you want to see!! You’ve been asking me to share my marble cake recipe for a while, and I’m finally following through on it!

On a separate note, I always thought these were called marbled cake layers, and I initially titled this post marbled layer cake recipe. Of course AFTER I created my thumb nails and added text to my videos, google informed me that most people actually call them MARBLE cake layers. Womp womp! Are you team marbled or marble?

swirling marbled cake layer

The reason I put off sharing this post for so long was because I was embarrassed to say  that in the past, I used to just make a half batch of both my vanilla cake batter and my chocolate cake batter, and then just swirl them together.

This was SO much extra work though!! It meant baking two sets of batter, which also meant twice the time commitment, twice the dishes, twice the headache!! My vanilla and chocolate layer cake recipes are super similar, and in fact the main difference is that in my chocolate cake recipe, I swap out some of the flour for baking cocoa.

With that in mind, I’ve adjusted this recipe so that after making the vanilla cake batter, you can set aside half of it, and then mix in a few more ingredients to turn it into chocolate cake batter!

holding pan all four layers

If you want to up the ante, I also included a chocolaty fudge swirl! This is totally optional, but really is such a pleasant surprise when you bite into this cake.

Once both cake batters (and the optional chocolate fudge ripple) are made, the real fun starts. Alternate spoonfuls of vanilla and chocolate cake batter into your pans, and continue until you’ve evenly distributed the batter between your pans.

adding batter into pan

TIP: If you do this in rounds, adding a spoonful of vanilla to each pan, then a spoonful of chocolate to each pan, it’s much easier to make sure your pans have the same amounts of cake batter. 

Once you’ve used all your batter, use a spoon add small drops of the chocolate fudge mixture on top of the cake batter. Be sure the chocolate drops are relatively spaced out, so that they don’t completely covered the cake batter when swirled. You want to be able to see each different component in these cake layers once they’re baked!!

adding chococolate drops

Then drag a small offset spatula or butter knife through the batter to create lines that are both horizontal and vertical. Make sure your offset spatula is lightly touching the bottom of the pan, so that your are swirling the batter throughout the layer, and not just on the top.

half swirled marbled layer cake

Try to create the lines using one continuous motion, going up and down, and then side to side. Repeat with remaining cake layers, then pop these into the preheated oven for 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

placing baked cake layer on cake board

The last step is to smear your favorite buttercream frosting on them, and enjoy! I’m partial to chocolate buttercream with marble cake, but I think cream cheese frosting would also taste great!

marbled furge ripple cake slice close up.jpg

Marble Cake Batter Ingredients:

Vanilla Cake Recipe:

  • 3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (416 grams)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar (600 grams)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (13 grams)
  • 1 tsp salt (5 grams)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (226 grams) – 2 sticks
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (9 grams)
  • 1 cup egg whites (or about 7 egg whites) (244 grams)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature (360 grams)
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil (28 grams)

Additional Ingredients: (to be added after the vanilla cake batter is made, to change it into chocolate batter)

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate Fudge Swirl:

  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips (170 grams)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line four eight-inch pans pans with parchment rounds, and grease with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Begin by making the vanilla cake batter. Mix together all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
  3. Mix chunks of room-temperature butter slowly into the dry mix, on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture becomes crumbly.
  4. Pour in egg whites, and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk in two installments, on a low speed. Add in vanilla and oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds.
  5. Pour half of the batter into a separate bowl (roughly 950 grams), and set aside.
  6. Next, convert the vanilla batter into chocolate cake batter. Mix the additional 1/3 cup baking cocoa, 1/4 sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp baking soda into the remaining batter.
  7. Add the additional 1/4 cup egg whites, and 1/4 cup buttermilk, and mix on a low speed until smooth.
  8. If desired, make the chocolate fudge swirl. Combine the chocolate chips, butter, and heavy cream into a heat-proof bowl. Heat in two 30-second intervals, stirring in between. Allow the mixture to sit for 1 minute, then stir until smooth and set aside to cool.
  9. Alternate spoonfuls of chocolate and vanilla cake batter into the prepared cake pans, filling them roughly one inch high with batter (I like to use a digital kitchen scale to make sure each pan has the same amount of batter).
  10. Add small drops (about one inch in diameter) of the chocolate swirl on top of the cake batter, then drag a small offset spatula or butter knife through the batter in horizontal and vertical lines to create a marbled patter.
  11. Bake for 32-35 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean). Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula around perimeter of the pan to separate the cake from the pan.

Recipe Notes

  • If you want to make this cake recipe with six-inch cake layers, you have half this recipe to make three, six-inch cake layers
  • If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can always make your own by adding 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk!
  • You can also swap out the buttermilk for whole milk, if you prefer to bake milk
  • These layers bake relatively flat, but you can also trim and level them with a serrated knife if desired.

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10 thoughts on “Easy Marble Layer Cake Recipe

  1. Thanks sharing the tweaked Marble Layer Cake and making it easier to recreate your marbleized design.You usually show how to assemble the layers and decorate it. I like how the finished cake look in the last photo and wonder if you have a video of how.

    1. I do!! I decided to split it up into two separate videos, just because it was too long! I’ll be sharing the video of the assembly on the cake on youtube, and I can definitely add some more photos to this post 🙂

  2. Lately my marble has been dry am excited to try this. wondering it’s not too chocolaty with the added chocolate chips ? thanks

    1. This is going to be a perfect recipe for you then!! I loved the chocolate swirl, but I’m also a huge chocolate fan! You can definitely skip the chocolate fudge swirl if you think it’ll be too much for your taste ❤️

  3. Hi Chels! I need to make Character cake and I know I’m going to need to use a 9×13 pan but I dont want super thin layers because I’m going to need to carve. Should I double this recipe and do it in one 9×13 pan or double it and bake in two 9×13 pans and then sandwich then together?

    1. I usually use one batch to make two 9×13 inch cake layers, and sandwich them together! Each layer ends up being about 1 inch tall. If you want them thicker than that you can definitely make 1.5 or 2 batches! Just be sure to use flower nail (placed upside-down in the center of the pan) to help them bake evenly!

Let me know what you think!

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