Published On: Tue, Dec 22nd, 2020

How to make a checkerboard cake

Cut open your cake to reveal a hidden checkerboard pattern! Britt Box from She Who Bakes walks you through the process in this step-by-step guide, and you can customise the colours to suit the occasion.

Can’t decide between two flavours or colours of cake? That’s ok, with this checkerboard cake design you don’t have to, you can have both! Go red and green for Christmas, yellow and pink for Easter, match the colours of a favourite sports team, go complimentary, or try contrasting flavours… the possibilities are endless!

To make this, you’ll need two cakes of the same size. I used vanilla and chocolate baked in an 18cm (7in) round tin.

checkerboard cake

Ingredients

For the vanilla cake

  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 200 g Stork/unsalted butter
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 4 medium free-range eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the chocolate cake

  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 200 g light brown sugar
  • 200 g Stork/unsalted butter
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 4 medium free-range eggs

Method (this process is the same for both cakes). 

1. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and mix.

2. Add the self-raising flour and plain flour (or cocoa powder if you’re making the chocolate cake) and mix well. Finally, add the vanilla if you’re making the vanilla cake and mix together.

3. Spoon into a lined 18cm (7in) round tin and bake at 160°C/Gas Mark 3 for 1 hour 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

4. Once the cakes are baked, double wrap them well in clingfilm and leave them overnight to settle. For this design, the cakes need to firm up a little.

5. The following day, before you get started, I recommend chilling the cakes for a little bit before touching them, either in the fridge or freezer. Not for too long though, as you don’t want them to dry out or to freeze, but long enough so that they are firm when you cut into them. This will ensure the cake doesn’t fall apart and that it doesn’t ‘crumb’ everywhere!

6. Once chilled, level both cakes so they are flat, then split them into two. I recommend using a cake leveller for this; they are inexpensive and give a much more accurate cut than freehand with a knife.

Checkerboard cake 1

7. Cut three circles of the cakes out. The size of these circles will depend on the size of your cake, but I went for 13cm (5in), 8cm (3in) and 2.5cm (1in). I didn’t have a 13cm (5in) round cutter so I carefully placed a 13cm (5in) tin on the top of the cake instead, traced around it with a scribe and then used a sharp knife to cut out the corresponding circle. For the 8cm (3in) and 2.5cm (1in) I used deep metal cookie cutters.

8. Once you’ve cut the circles out, you need to carefully separate them and then build the two coloured cakes back together. Be very gentle with this bit, alternating the colours/flavours of the sponges so you have a ‘target’ effect. Once this is done, decide which will be your base layer (in my case, it’s chocolate) and place that onto a working cake board. Spread a layer of filling onto the top of the cake – I used an easy chocolate ganache, but you can use whatever you like!

Checkerboard cake 3

9. Top this cake level with the next slice of alternate colours/flavours and spread on more filling. Do this until all four layers have been used up.

checkerboard cake 4

10. Next, pop this cake tower in the fridge to firm up the filling, it’ll make the crumb coating so much easier if it’s a little firmer and it’s not slipping all over the place.

11. Once chilled, put a few spoonfuls of the filling onto the top of the cake, then smooth down and around the sides with a cranked palette knife. Remove the excess with a side scraper, then chill the cake for 10 minutes.

Checkerboard cake 5

12. Once chilled, repeat the process for a second crumb coat layer. Once this has set, decorate as desired! Cover in a layer of sugarpaste, coat with a different outside filling, or you can do what I did and leave it as it is. Transfer to a cake stand, then cover the top and sides with white and milk chocolate buttons!

Checkerboard cake 5

Slice into it to see the amazing checkerboard effect and wow your guests.

Happy baking! Britt xxx

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