You’ve been asking me for my easy marble cake recipe for a while, and I’m finally getting around to it!
While I love to come up with my own ideas for cakes, I also love hearing your suggestions. At the end of the day, I want to make what you want to make!!
Marble Cake vs. Marbled Cake
On a separate note, I always thought these were called marbled cake layers. 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?
One Batter, Two Flavors!!
There was a reason I put off sharing this marble cake recipe for so long. 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!
It was SO much extra work!! This meant making 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. 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 you only have to make one base batch of batter.
After making the vanilla cake batter, you can set aside half of it to make the chocolate batter.
All you have to do mix in a few additional ingredients. Now you can forget about the extra dishes, and enjoy the cake once it’s made!
The Added Bonus: A Fudge Swirl
If you want to up the ante, I also included a chocolaty fudge swirl! This is totally optional, but is such a pleasant surprise when you bite into this cake.
It also bakes up beautifully, almost like it dissolves into the cake layers as they bake. The fudge ripple adds a rich and 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 creates a visually 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.
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.
Be 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!!
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.
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 the layers into the preheated oven for 34-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cake Assembly and Decoration
This marble cake recipe is honestly so delicious, it almost doesn’t need frosting. ALMOST.
While I am guilty of eating cake tops plain while I level my cakes, this cake is taken to the next level with my fudgy chocolate buttercream recipe.
My chocolate buttercream recipe uses both cocoa and melted dark chocolate, and boy is it tasty.
If you so chose, the last step is to cover these layers with your favorite buttercream frosting on them, and enjoy!
While I chose to chocolate buttercream with my marble cake this time, I think cream cheese frosting would also taste great!
I used three different types of buttercream to create a fun squiggly pattern.
It was the only design that seemed to fit a marble cake in my mind. This is definitely a buttercream intensive design, but it is so fun to make.
Tips for Making The Best Marble Cake:
- Chill your cake layers in the freezer for about 20 minutes before assembling the cake, to make it easier to stack and frost.
- You can make your own buttermilk if you don’t any! Simply add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of whole milk
- Mix your cake batter just until the ingredients are incorporated; this will ensure your cake layers are tender and fluffy
- Be sure to properly measure your flour (spoon into the cup measure then level) or use a kitchen scale to measure your dry ingredients
- Use a serrated knife to level your cake layers once they’re fully cooled, to make it easier to assemble and frost your cake
- To make a 6-inch cake halve this recipe and bake 3 layers.
Making This Cake In Advance & Storage Tips:
- Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them: It breaks the process up and make 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 month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 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.
Let Me Know What You Think!
If you try this easy marble cake recipe, I’d love to hear what think of it! Please leave a rating, and let me know your thoughts by sharing a comment 🙂
Also please tag me @chelsweets and use the #chelsweets, so I can see your beautiful creations on social media!
Other Recipes You Might Like:
- Small Batch Vanilla Cake Recipe (6-inch)
- Red Velvet Layer Cake
- WASC (White Wedding Cake) Cake Recipe
- Chocolate Blackout Cake
- Dark Chocolate Strawberry Cake
Vanilla Cake Recipe*
- 3 cup all-purpose flour (390 grams)
- 3 cups granulated sugar (600 grams)
- 2 1/2 tsp baking powder (10 grams)
- 1 tsp salt (5 grams)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (226 grams) – 2 sticks
- 1 cup egg whites (or about 7 egg whites) (244 grams)
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature (360 grams)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (9 grams)
- 1/8 cup vegetable oil (28 grams)
- *additional ingredients for the chocolate cake are listed below
Additional Ingredients: (to be added after the vanilla cake batter is made, to change it into chocolate batter)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (33 grams)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (50 grams)
- 1/4 cup egg whites (60 grams, or 2 egg whites)
- 1/4 cup buttermilk (45 grams)
- 1/4 tsp salt (1 gram)
- 1/2 tsp baking powder (2 grams)
Chocolate Fudge Swirl:
- 1 cup chocolate chips (150 grams)
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (56 grams)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, room temperature (60 grams)
- 3 cups unsalted butter, room temperature (650 grams)
- 11 cups powdered sugar (1375 grams)
- 1 tsp salt (6 grams)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream) (60 grams)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste (18 grams)
- 1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (85 grams)
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled (175 grams)
Marble Cake Layers:
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 175 C. Grease and line four 8" cake pans and set aside.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pour in 1 cup of egg whites and mix on low until just incorporated, thn mix in 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk on a low speed.
- Add in 2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/8 cup oil, and mix at a low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then beat on medium-low speed for about 30 seconds.
- Pour half of the batter into a separate bowl (roughly 950 grams) and set aside.
- In the other bowl, convert the vanilla cake batter into chocolate cake batter. Mix the additional 1/3 cup baking cocoa, 1/4 sugar, 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp baking powder into one bowl of vanilla batter on a low speed until combined and set aside.
- If desired, make the chocolate fudge swirl. Combine the chocolate chips, butter, and heavy cream into a heatproof 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.
- 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).
- 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 pattern.
- Bake for 33-35 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs).
- Once the cake layers are out of the oven, run a small offset spatula around the edges of the pans to help separate the cake layer from the pan.
- Allow the layers to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then flip them onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
- Once the cake layers have finished cooling use a serrated knife to level the tops and set the cake layers aside.
- 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.
- Beat the butter on a medium speed for 30 seconds with a paddle attachment, until smooth.
- Mix in the vanilla extract and salt on a low speed.
- Slowly add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time. Alternate with small splashes of cream.
- Mix on low for a couple minutes until the ingredients are fully incorporated, and the desired consistency is reached.
- 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 (quarter of a cup at a time).
- Place half of the buttercream into a seperate bowl. Mix in 1/2 cup of baking cocoa, and the melted chocolate chips. This will be used to fill the cake, and will be the darkest buttercream of the squiggles. Place in a large piping bag.
- With the remaining vanilla buttercream, place half of the into another large piping bag.
- Color the rest of the frosting with the other 1/2 cup of baking cocoa, to create a light brown colored frosting. Place in a large piping bag.
To Assemble The Cake
- Once all the different components of this cake are ready, begin to assemble the cake!
- Stack the cake layers on a greaseproof cardboard cake round.
- Spread a thin dab of buttercream on the center of the board, to help your cake layer stay in place.
- Next, center the first cake layer the cake board.
- Spread an even layer of the dark chocolate buttercream onto the cake layer with a large offset spatula. Repeat with remaining cake layers.
- Place the top cake layer upside down.
- Cover the cake in a thin layer of frosting, and smooth using a bench scraper.
- Chill the cake in the freezer for about 5 minutes, until the frosting is firm to the touch.
- Pipe squiggly lines of buttercream around the cake, alternating between the vanilla, chocolate, and dark chocolate buttercream.
Make your cake layers in advance and freeze them: It breaks the process up and make 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 month, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. 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.
Amount Per Serving Calories 601Total Fat 28gSaturated Fat 16gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 93mgSodium 289mgCarbohydrates 83gFiber 2gSugar 69gProtein 5g