Marble cakes are cakes with more than 2 colored (or flavored) cake batter mixed into a single cake. These different colored and flavoured batters are typically mixed to create pretty swirls in the cake, hence the name, marble cakes.
The marble butter cake recipe on this page is a combination of plain white cake and chocolate cake. Both are vanilla flavored and the baked cake has lovely swirls of chocolate in a plain vanilla cake. I call it a marble butter cake because it is adapted from my butter pound cake recipe. To complete the cake, I frosted it with matching marbled buttercream in simple vanilla and chocolate flavors.
This vanilla chocolate marble butter cake recipe is one of my most viewed recipes on the site, and it’s one that I have baked so many times that I have calculated the recipe for various cake tin sizes. You will find the full details of my cake tin size guide in the recipe card below.
Seen above is my marble butter cake filled and covered in matching marbled buttercream. Full details on how to create the marble cake and the marbled buttercream are in the section below.
How to Make Marble Butter Cake
Ingredients for the marble cake and marbled buttercream
These are the ingredients that go into this marble butter cake:
- Self raising flour + baking powder + salt
- Castor sugar
- Butter (at room temperature)
- Eggs (at room temperature)
- Cocoa powder
- Vanilla essence
And these are the ingredients for the marbled buttercream:
- Icing sugar
- Butter (salted)
- Cocoa powder
- Milk (optional)
Making the marble butter cake
- In a small bowl, sift the cocoa powder and mix with a quarter of the milk mentioned in the recipe. Mix until it forms a smooth paste. Set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This should take a good 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl at least once.
- Add the eggs next. Add them one at a time, and each time, beat until the traces of the egg are not longer visible before adding more. For larger cakes, you can add 2 or 3 eggs at once but be sure to beat them well after each addition.
- Fold in the sifted flour (sift the flour with baking powder and salt) alternatively with milk. Add the flour in 3 batches and the milk in 2 batches, starting and ending with flour.
- Finally, fold in the vanilla essence. Remove one-third of the batter into a smaller plate and add the cocoa powder-milk paste to it. Mix well.
Creating a marbled batter
- Now that you have your vanilla batter and chocolate batter separately, you can start to create your marble cake.
- In your greased and lined cake tin, drop spoonfuls of the plain vanilla batter in the tin, leaving a gap between each spoon of batter.
- Next, drop spoonfuls of the cocoa batter. This time, fill in the gaps between the plain vanilla batter.
- Once the first round is done, repeat the process with a second layer. This time, scoop the plain vanilla batter onto the earlier cocoa batter. And the cocoa batter onto the earlier plain vanilla cake batter.
- Continue with the alternate scooping until the cake batter is all used up.
- Next is the marbling effect. This is very simple, all you need is a jam knife or a long skewer.
- Use your jam knife or skewer to cut through the cake batter, in horizontal lines, with a gap of about 2 to 3 cm or more between each cut.
- Repeat the process with vertical lines, followed by diagonal lines. Each time you cut through the cake batter, make sure your knife or skewer does not touch the base of your cake tin.
- After all the cutting through, you can see that the cake batter is all nicely marbled.
- Level the top of your cakes and bake them.
Here’s how the baked marble butter cake would look like:
How to Decorate a Marble Cake with Marble Buttercream
Making the buttercream
- Start by making the vanilla buttercream. Cream butter and icing sugar until light and creamy. Add some milk if necessary. If are working in a hot environment, you might want to substitute some of the butter with shortening. See my buttercream recipe post here for full details.
- Remove a quarter of the buttercream into a small bowl. Sift in the cocoa powder and mix until the cocoa powder is all well distributed. Do not worry is the cocoa seems very light in the icing. It will take some time to intensify.
Assembling the cake
- While waiting, level your cakes. Stack them up with some plain vanilla buttercream between the layers.
- Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and refrigerate for about 10 to 15 minutes for the crumb coat to set.
- Remove the marble cake from the fridge, and apply another coat of buttercream. Use your icing scraper to distribute the icing uniformly all around the sides and top of the cake. At this stage, you need not get the icing all smooth.
- Next, use a spatula to attach the chocolate icing randomly on the cake.
- Use your icing scraper again, to smooth the chocolate icing on the cake. As you do it, you will notice that the chocolate icing gets blended into the vanilla icing like a watercolor effect.
Slanting lines pattern on the cake
- Once the cake is generally smooth, its time to make the slanting lines pattern on the marbled buttercream cake.
- Place your cake on a turntable. Hold your palette knife at the bottom of the marble cake as shown.
- Slowly bring the knife up to the top of the cake without lifting it off the cake as you rotate your turntable with your other hand. In doing this, make sure not to press the palette knife too hard into the icing or you will end up scraping it off the cake. Suffice if it touches the icing lightly to create the slanting lines on the cake.
- Repeat the process to smooth out any bulges of icing you see on the cake in between the slanting lines created in the step above.
- Repeat the palette knife lines for the cake top, starting from the edges to the center of the cake.
- And that’s pretty much how you make the marbled effect with buttercream. Decorate the cake further if you wish, or serve it as it is for an elegant, rustic look.
Marble Pound Cake Recipe – My Recipe Notes
Well greased and lined cake tins
- You can grease and flour your cake tins or line them with parchment paper. Either way, when marbling the cake batter (see my instructions above), make sure to not cut through the batter all the way down until your knife or skewer touches the cake pan underneath. This can scrape your grease and flour lining on the cake tin, causing you baked marble butter cake to get stuck to the tin after baking. As for parchment lined tins, touching the paper during marbling is fine, but just don’t overdo it to the point the paper is torn or cut.
Mixing cocoa powder to the cake batter
- There are 2 ways in which you can add cocoa powder to the cake batter in this recipe.
- The first method is by mixing it with milk and folding it into the portioned cake batter. This is the method I have used in my recipe.
- The other method is to add the cocoa powder directly into the portioned cake batter and then adding the milk separately after that. If you are to do this, make it a point to sift the cocoa powder into the cake batter. Cocoa powder tends to be lumpy and if you add it directly without sifting, you can end up with tiny lumps of cocoa powder in your batter that is hard to break by just mixing it with a spatula.
Cake ingredients at room temperature
- This marble butter cake is made using the creaming method, which means butter and sugar are creamed first before the eggs are added in. If either the eggs or butter is cold, the mixture will get curdled. If both are at the same temperature, this will not happen, however, since butter is hard when its cold, it would typically be softened at room temperature. Adding cold eggs to this butter will cause curdling.
- To avoid this, it is best that both the eggs and butter are at room temperature.
- If the mixture still curdles, add some flour until it is no longer curdled and continue with the rest of the steps.
Doubling the marble butter cake recipe & cake tin size guide
- This marble cake recipe can be doubled or tripled or even quadrupled if you like. Please refer to my cake tin size guide in the recipe card below for the exact measurement.
- For large cakes, it is advisable for the cake batter to be mixed in small quantities and then added into the cake tins. This is to ensure the ingredients are all well mixed as they are supposed too. For example, butter and sugar need to be well creamed. For the amount indicated in the card below, this would require a good 2 minutes. If you increase the quantity of ingredients, the time would need to be adjusted accordingly. The other alternative is to mix the batter in batches, as I have indicated earlier.
Making tall cakes & large cakes
- This recipe makes 2 layers of marble butter cakes, each measuring approximately 2 inches in height. When sandwiched together, it will make a marble cake of 4 inches in height.
- To maintain the moist texture of the cake, it is not advisable to bake the cake in one tin as your cake will require a very long time to bake, and that will dry out the sides of the cake. You will then end up with a dry cake.
- If you wish to make a taller cake, increase the number of cake layers by doubling or tripling the recipe as required. This recipe also makes good cupcakes, so any excess batter can be made into cupcakes too.
- For marble cakes larger than 10 inches in diameter, it is advisable to use a heating core or baking strips to ensure the cakes bake uniformly and level. See my post here on how to achieve leveled cakes to learn more about using cake strips and heating cores.
How to ensure the cakes are moist and do not dry out
- The first step to ensure your marble cakes do not dry out is by not overbaking them. Follow the time indicated in the recipe and check your cakes at least 5 minutes before the time is up.
- To test if the cakes are done, insert a skewer in the center. So long as there is no wet batter sticking to it, the cakes are done. If you see tiny moist crumbs sticking to the skewer, the butter cakes are good to be removed from the oven. To be sure, press the top of the cakes lightly. If their spring back, they are baked and can be removed from the oven.
- The other important tip for making moist marble butter cakes is to wrap the cakes in cling wrap and refrigerate them after baking. Do this once the cakes cool down to a warm temperature. Keep them refrigerated for at least one day.
- When you remove them, let them sit at room temperature with the cling wraps on. Only remove the cling wrap once the cakes have warmed up to room temperature to avoid condensation directly on the cakes.
- This way, your marble cakes will be moist and yummy.
Storing the marble butter cake
- This marble butter cake is good to be served on the very same day it is baked. It can last at room temperature for a good 4 to 5 days provided it is handled without any moisture.
- If you wish to keep it longer, refrigerate the cake in an airtight container. Bring the cake to room temperature before consuming it.
- You can also bake and store the marble cake for later use. To do this, as mentioned above, wrap the baked cakes in cling wrap when they have cooled to a warm temperature and refrigerate them. Wrapping helps to ensure they do not dry out in the fridge.
Vanilla Chocolate Marble Butter Cake Recipe
Here is the printable version of my marble butter cake recipe. While you are at it, don’t forget to read up my notes above for tips on baking the best vanilla chocolate marble butter cake.
Marble Butter Cake
- 360 g self raising flour
- 15 g cocoa powder
- 360 g butter
- 360 g castor sugar
- 6 eggs
- 100 ml milk
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- ¼ tsp salt
- 300 g butter salted
- 600 g icing sugar sifted
- 10 g cocoa powder sifted
- 2 tbsp milk optional
- Preheat oven to 170°Celsius. Grease and line two 7-inches round cake tins.
- Sift cocoa powder into a small bowl and add a quarter of the milk to it. Mix the cocoa powder into a thick paste. Leave aside.
- In a medium bowl, beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well after each addition until all traces of the egg are no longer visible.
- Sift the flour with baking powder and salt. Fold these sifted dry ingredients into the creamed mixture in batches. Alternate with the milk, starting and ending with flour.
- Finally fold in the vanilla essence.
- Remove ⅓ of the batter into a small bowl. Fold in the milk-cocoa paste and mix until it is well distributed.
- Divide the plain batter and chocolate batter into both cake tins. Alternate the batter in each tin and cut through with a jam knife or skewer to create a marbled efferct.
- Bake the cakes for 45 to 50 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out without any wet batter sticking to it. The top of the cakes should also spring back when lightly pressed.
- Remove cakes from oven and let them cool completely before frosting and decorating.
- To make the marble buttercream, beat the butter and icing sugar until light and creamy. Add some milk if the icing is too stiff.
- Transfer ¼ of the icing into a small bowl. Add cocoa powder and mix well. Add more milk if the icing is too stiff.
- Level the cake tops, fill with the plain buttercream and stack the layers up.
- Apply a thin layer of crumb coat and refrigerate the cake until set (approximately 15 minutes). Remove the cake from fridge and apply a full layer of buttercream. Smooth lightly with an icing scraper.
- Use a spatula to apply the chocolate buttercream randomly on the sides and top of the cake. Smooth again with an icing scraper.
- Place the cake on a turntable. Hold a palette knife at the bottom of the cake (lightly pressing the buttercream on the cake). Bring the palette knife up slowly towards the top of the cake as you rotate the turntable to create the slanting lines on the sides of the cake. Repeat for the top of the cake, starting from the edges to the center.
- Use the palette knife to smooth out any excess icing bulges on the cake.
Calculated Tin Sizes9 inches round/ 8 inches square (makes 2 layers of 2 inch high cakes)
- 600 g butter
- 600 g castor sugar
- 550 g self raising flour
- 10 eggs
- 25 g cocoa powder
- 150 ml milk
- 1 ⅔ tsp vanilla essence
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
- 840 g butter
- 840 g castor sugar
- 840 g self raising flour
- 14 eggs
- 35 g cocoa powder
- 220 ml milk
- 2 ⅓ tsp vanilla essence
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 ¾ tsp baking powder
- 1200 g butter
- 1200 g castor sugar
- 1200 g self raising flour
- 20 eggs
- 50 g cocoa powder
- 330 ml milk
- 3 ⅓ tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
And that’s my marble butter cake with marbled buttercream frosting for you.
Happy Baking 🙂 🙂
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