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Marble Cake Recipe

You’ve been asking for my marble cake recipe for a while, and I’m finally getting around to it!

image of a slice of layered marble cake being cut and plated

Marble Cake vs. Marbled Cake

I always thought these were called marbled cake layers. I initially titled this post “marbled layer cake recipe”.

Of course, AFTER I created my thumbnails and added text to my videos, Google informed me that most people actually call them MARBLE cake layers.

I guess you learn something new every day!

image of chocolate and vanilla marble cake layers that have been swirled with a fudge ripple and are ready to be baked

One Batter, Two Flavors!!

While I love a lot of things about this cake recipe, I am obsessed with the fact that we make the vanilla and chocolate cake batter using the same base cake batter!

After making the vanilla cake batter, you can set aside two thirds of it (about 1200g) and transform the remaining batter into chocolate cake batter.

All you have to do is mix in a few additional ingredients. It’s so easy and is so much faster than making two separate cake batters!

image of chocolate fudge being added into marble cake layers to make a fudge ripple swirl

The Added Bonus: A Fudge Swirl

If you want to up the ante, add the chocolaty fudge swirl! This is totally optional, but it’s such a pleasant surprise when you bite into this cake.

It bakes up beautifully into the cake layers. The chocolate kind of dissolves into the cake layers as they bake.

This creates a fudge ripple throughout each cake layer and adds a rich, chocolatey flavor into each bite.

I’m also big on aesthetics. The melted chocolate swirled into the batter looks GORGEOUS! Not only is it worth adding for the taste, it also gives the cake layers such a stunning look.

How To Make Marble Cake Layers

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. Continue until you’ve evenly distributed the batter between the pans.

image of vanilla and chocolate cake batter being spooned into an 8-inch cake pan to make a marble layer cake

TIP: It’s much easier to make sure your pans have the same amounts of cake batter if you add the spoonfuls of batter in rounds. Add a spoonful of vanilla to each pan, then a spoonful of chocolate to each pan, and repeat until you’ve used all your batter.

Once you’ve used all your batter, use a spoon to add small drops of the chocolate fudge mixture on top of the cake batter.

Make sure the chocolate drops are relatively spread out. This will prevent them from completely covering the cake batter when swirled.

You want to be able to see each different component in these cake layers once they’re baked!!

image of chocolate fudge being added into marble cake layers to make a fudge ripple swirl

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.

This helps make sure you’re swirling the batter throughout the layer, and not just on the top.

image of chocolate and vanilla cake batter being swirled together to make marble cake layers

Try to create the lines using one continuous motion, going up and down, and then side to side.

Repeat with remaining cake layers. Then bake the layers into the preheated oven for 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.

Cake Assembly and Decoration

This marble cake recipe is honestly so delicious, it almost doesn’t need frosting. ALMOST.

I like to take this cake to the next level with my fudgy chocolate buttercream recipe.

image of chocolate buttercream being mixed in a KitchenAid stand mixer

My chocolate buttercream recipe uses both cocoa and melted chocolate, and boy is it tasty.

I wanted the outside of this cake to match the beautiful marbled cake layers inside, so I swirled together my frosting with a large offset spatula. I was obsessed with the way it turned out!!

The best part is that this technique such an easy and forgiving way to frost a cake.

image of a gorgeous marble cake that's made with 8-inch cake layers

Tips for Making The Best Marble Layer Cake

  • Properly measure your flour. Either spoon it into the cup measure, then level with a knife or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better, so be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • This recipe bakes up pretty flat, but if you notice a little dome, I recommend pressing a smaller cake pan on top of the cake layers right when they come out of the oven. This will give them a perfectly flat top and make them sure easy to stack and frost.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes them easier to stack and frost.
  • Make sure your buttercream is the right consistency. It makes the cake so much easier to fill and frost.
  • Crumb coat and chill your cake, then smooth on a second layer of frosting. This will help make sure your final coat of frosting is crumb-free and beautiful.
  • To make a 6-inch cake, halve this recipe and bake 3 layers.
image of a slice of moist marble cake on a plate that's ready to be eaten

Making This Marble Cake in Advance & Storage Tips

Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.

Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.

A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!

If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

image of a slice of marble cake on a plate

Let Me Know What You Think!

If you try this easy marble cake recipe, I’d love to hear what you think of it! Please leave a rating and comment below.

Also tag me @chelsweets and use #chelsweets so I can see your beautiful creations on social media!

Other Recipes You Might Like:

Yield: 24

Marble Cake Recipe

image of a slice of layered marble cake being cut and plated

This marble cake recipe uses one batter to make both the vanilla and chocolate batter, which are swirled with a fudge ripple! It is simply delicious!!

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 34 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 34 minutes

Ingredients

Vanilla Cake Recipe*

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

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (28g)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50g)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (60ml or 2 egg whites)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (60ml)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder (2g)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (1g)

Chocolate Fudge Swirl:

Buttercream Frosting

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temp (452g)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (12ml)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (3g)
  • 7 cups powdered sugar (875g)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (60ml)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened baking cocoa powder (40g)
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled (175g)
  • additional 1/4 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (60ml)

Instructions

Marble Cake Layers:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175 C. Grease and line four 8" cake pans and set aside.
  2. Begin by making the vanilla cake batter. Mix together the dry ingredients (3 cups flour, 3 cups sugar, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp salt) in a stand mixer with a paddle until fully combined.
  3. Mix 1 cup of room-temperature butter into the dry ingredients on a low speed. Continue to mix until no large chunks of butter remain, and the mixture looks like moist sand.
  4. Pour in 1 cup of egg whites and mix on low until just incorporated, then mix in 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, and 2 tsp vanilla extract. on a low speed.
  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium speed for about 1 minute. This helps give the layers a lighter texture.
  6. Pour 2/3 of the batter into a separate bowl (roughly 1200 grams) and set aside.
  7. Next, we transform the remaining vanilla cake batter into chocolate cake batter. Mix in the additional 1/3 cup baking cocoa, 1/4 sugar, 1/4 cup egg whites, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/2 tsp baking powder, and 1/4 tsp salt on a low speed until combined and set aside.
  8. If desired, make the chocolate fudge swirl. Combine 1 cup of chocolate chips, 1/4 cup of room-temperature butter, and 1/4 cup of heavy cream in a heatproof bowl. Heat in two 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval. Allow the mixture to sit for 1 minute, then stir until smooth.
  9. Alternate spoonfuls of chocolate and vanilla cake batter into the prepared cake pans. Fill them roughly 1 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 1 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 pattern. Save the leftover chocolate mixture to decorate the cake layer. It can sit out at room temperature for up to 8 hours.
  11. Bake for 32-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
  12. Once the cake layers are out of the oven, run a small offset spatula around the edge of the pans to help separate the cake layer from the pan.
  13. Allow the layers to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then flip them onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  14. Once the cake layers have finished cooling use a serrated knife to level the tops and set the cake layers aside.
  15. If you're making these cake layers in advance, wrap and freeze them like this. When you're ready to assemble the cake, unwrap the frozen layers and allow them to thaw for about 30 minutes before you plan to frost the cake.

Buttercream Frosting:

  1. While the cake layers bake and cool, make the vanilla buttercream frosting.
  2. Beat 2 cups of unsalted butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment until smooth.
  3. Mix in 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp salt on a low speed.
  4. Slowly add in 7 cups of powdered sugar on a low speed. Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream halfway through to make the frosting easier to mix.
  5. Continue to mix on low speed for a few minutes, until the desired consistency is reached. 
  6. If the frosting is too thick, add in additional cream (1 Tbsp at a time). If the frosting is too thin, add in more powdered sugar (a quarter of a cup at a time).
  7. Place 1 cup of vanilla buttercream into a separate bowl and set aside.
  8. Mix in 1/2 cup of baking cocoa, 1 cup of melted chocolate chips, and an additional 1/4 cup of heavy cream into the remaining frosting.
  9. Cover both the vanilla and the chocolate buttercream with plastic wrap to prevent crusting and set aside.

Assembling this Layered Marble Cake

  1. Stack the cake layers on a greaseproof cardboard cake round.
  2. Spread a tablespoon of buttercream on the center of the board to help your cake layer stay in place.
  3. Center the first cake layer on the cake board. Spread an even layer of the dark chocolate buttercream onto the cake layer with a large offset spatula. Repeat with the remaining cake layers. Place the top cake layer upside down.
  4. Cover the cake in a thin layer of frosting and smooth using a bench scraper.
  5. Chill the cake in the freezer for 10 minutes or fridge for 30 minutes until the frosting is firm to the touch.
  6. Swirl together the vanilla and chocolate buttercream around the cake using the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Heat up the remaining chocolate fudge swirl mixture for 15-30 seconds, or until it's thin enough to easily spread into the frosting on the cake. Swirl the chocolate mixture into the frosting to create a marbled look, then enjoy!

Notes

Tips for Making the Best Marble Cake

  • Properly measure your flour. Either spoon it into the cup measure, then level with a knife or use a kitchen scale.
  • Ingredients at room temp mix together better, so be sure you set out any cold ingredients ahead of time.
  • Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake. This makes them easier to stack and frost.
  • Level your room temperature or thawed cake layers with a serrated knife to make them easier to stack.
  • Crumb coat and chill your cake, then add the second layer of frosting. This will help make sure your final coat of frosting is crumb-free and beautiful.
  • Make sure the buttercream is the right consistency before frosting your cake. It will help give your cake proper structure and make it easier to decorate.

Making This Marble Cake in Advance and Storage Tips

  • Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them. It breaks the process up and makes it more approachable.
  • Make your frosting ahead of time too or save any leftover frosting! It can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. Be sure to give it a good stir once it thaws to get the consistency nice and smooth again.
  • A frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious!
  • If you cut into the cake and have leftovers, use any remaining frosting to cover the cut section to keep it moist and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information

Yield

24

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 655Total Fat 31gSaturated Fat 18gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 71mgSodium 417mgCarbohydrates 84gFiber 1gSugar 69gProtein 12g

Sarah

Saturday 3rd of February 2024

Once made should this cake be stored in the fridge or can it sit on worktop if covered?

Chelsweets

Sunday 4th of February 2024

Hi Sarah,

This cake can sit at room temperature for up to 2 days, but if you plan to make it further in advance a frosted cake can last in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month. I usually store my cakes in the fridge if I make them more than a few hours in advance to help them keep their shape! The buttercream locks in all the moisture, keeping the cake fresh and delicious. Hope that helps, happy baking!

Bev

Wednesday 24th of January 2024

Can this be converted into 6” cake with 3 layers?

Chelsweets

Sunday 28th of January 2024

Hi Bev,

Great question! I actually have a small batch marble cake recipe that makes 3, 6-inch cake layers. Here's the link: https://chelsweets.com/small-batch-marble-cake/

Hope that helps, happy baking!

Megan Smith

Friday 12th of January 2024

I want to start with saying, I love your recipes and congratulations on your pregnancy! I love watching your stories online. I’m just curious, I notice when I make your recipes I end up with crunchy edges usually. I wasn’t sure if this was from the buttermilk? Maybe the egg whites? This recipe in particular. I don’t necessarily mind but I have to do a lot of extra trimming. Any thoughts on this or tips for trimming? My layers are in the freezer now.

Chelsweets

Sunday 14th of January 2024

Hi Megan,

Thank you, you are too sweet! The crusting/crunchy edges that happens on these layers has to do with the amount of sugar in the recipe and the fact that it uses the reverse crumbing method to make the batter. I usually do just trim off the edges / caramelization so that my layers are consistent, but if you use wet cake strips around the pans or use cake goop to grease the pans instead of nonstick spray, it should get rid of the crunchy bits. Hope that helps for the future, happy baking!

Kayla

Thursday 16th of November 2023

Can this be baked in a 9x13 rectangular sheet pan?

Chelsweets

Sunday 19th of November 2023

Hi Kayla,

It totally can! One batch will make 2, 9 x 13-inch cake layers that are about 1 inch tall. Bake for 35-40 mins at 350 F / 175 C. I recommend using heating cores (like these: https://amzn.to/47C37V5) if you have them to help large cake layers like this bake more evenly and quickly.

You can also make one 9 x 13-inch cake layer that's about 2 inches tall, but the bake time will be 45-55 minutes at 350 F/ 175 C. Hope that helps, happy baking!

Sheri

Tuesday 14th of November 2023

This looks amazing and I want to make it for my son's birthday but I'm a little confused on the amount of white vs. chocolate batter. It says to pour 2/3rds into a separate bowl. Is the 2/3rds the white or used to make the chocolate batter? How does that work if the cake pans should have equal amounts of the white vs chocolate?

Chelsweets

Sunday 19th of November 2023

Hi Sheri,

Once we've made the base vanilla batter, we pour 2/3 of it into a separate bowl and set it aside. Then we add additional ingredients into the remaining 1/3 of the batter to transform it into chocolate cake batter. Because we are adding in cocoa powder and other ingredients, you end up having just as much chocolate cake batter as vanilla cake batter. Hope that helps, happy baking!

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