Marble Cake

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Today I'm sharing the BEST Marble Cake recipe from scratch that belongs in your recipe box!

The layers are so moist and tender with wonderful flavor (not to mention beautiful swirls). Everybody needs a go-to marble cake recipe, don't they?

Learn how to make this amazing Marble Layer Cake as well as how to decorate it with beautiful piping in this My Cake School video tutorial!

Why choose between a delicious chocolate and a delicious yellow cake when a marble cake can give you the best of both worlds? This is a dessert that never disappoints.

It is the perfect balance of yellow cake with swirls of chocolate, makes beautiful cake layers as well as cupcakes, and it is sturdy enough to hold up well to fondant too. (We have a Marble Cake Mix version as well!)

We love to pair marble layer cakes with our rich Chocolate Buttercream. So good!

This homemade Marble Cake recipe is the BEST!

What is Marble Cake?

Marble cake is a type of cake that has contrasting swirls of batter, giving a fun marbled or swirled pattern to your slices.

The contrasting swirls may be from a different flavor of batter, or simply batter that has been tinted. Once the two types of batter are in the pan, you can lightly drag a knife through the batter to create the marbled effect. 

Years ago, when making marble cake, I used to prepare a chocolate cake recipe and a yellow cake recipe separately and then combined them. That's just too much work and too much batter. Other recipes call for melted chocolate.

With this Marble Cake technique, simply choose your favorite yellow or white cake recipe, and reserve a little to combine with cocoa powder for your swirls- what could be easier?

I just LOVE the combination of yellow cake with chocolate and so this recipe is based on our favorite scratch Yellow Cake.

However, no matter what recipe you are using (whether yellow or white cake), you can follow the same technique!

This Marble Cake from Scratch is so delicious and moist!

How to Marble Cake Batter

  • To create a marbled effect with your cake batter you first need to make your white or yellow cake batter.
  • Next, dissolve cocoa powder into hot water.
  • Scoop some of your cake batter into a small bowl (see recipe for details) and combine with the chocolate mixture to create chocolate batter. 
  • Next, scoop spoonfuls of batter into the pans, alternating between the yellow and chocolate batter. You can see how we did this in our video tutorial. For me, I added yellow cake batter to each pan first, then added spoonfuls of chocolate batter, gave it a swirl, then added additional yellow and chocolate batter and gave it another swirl. 
Marble Cake From Scratch Recipe by MyCakeSchool.com!
  • It's up to you how marbled you make it, although you have to stop yourself from having too much fun or you'll loose your beautiful swirls!
Moist and delicious Marble Cake Recipe from Scratch! Recipe by MyCakeSchool.com. Online cake tutorials, recipes, videos, and more!

That's all there is to it! Bake, fill, frost, and enjoy! We hope that you love this recipe as much as we have. It's guaranteed to please any crowd.

This Marble Cake from Scratch is so delicious and moist!

Zebra Cakes and Checkerboard Cakes!

If you love Marble Cake, you should try changing this up a bit with Zebra Cake! It is the same idea as marble cake, only with a zebra print patter. You can find our step by step tutorial here: Zebra Cake Tutorial.

Our checkerboard cake is another fun alternative to marble cake, but with the same wonderful combination of flavors! How to Make a Checkerboard Cake.

Recipe FAQs

Our marble cake in the photo was frosted with our go-to chocolate buttercream frosting recipe.

You can find the Chocolate Buttercream recipe here! It has a wonderful chocolate flavor, is simple to make, and pipes beautifully!:Classic Chocolate Buttercream.

We also love Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting which is a little less rich. If you love cream cheese, you will love this recipe! 

Of course, Vanilla Buttercream is a great choice too if you aren't in as chocolatey of a mood ;0)

When you take a closer look at our Marble Cake Recipe, you'll notice that the method of mixing is a little different than the traditional creaming method (which involves creaming the butter and sugar and adding wet & dry ingredients alternately). 

The mixing method for this marble cake is most similar to the Reverse Creaming Method of Mixing that we have used in several of our recipes, in that the dry ingredients are combined before the butter is mixed in. However, it is unique in that the eggs are then added one at a time before the reminder of the wet ingredients are slowly poured in. 

We find this mixing method to be very easy to follow, and the result is a slightly finer crumb, yet it has a soft texture and is very moist. We love it! 

Marble cake with chocolate buttercream filling and frosting is fine to sit out at room temperature for a couple of days in an airtight container or cake dome. After that, it is best to store in the refrigerator for freshness.

If you refrigerate the cake, the cake and frosting will become more firm because of the butter in the recipe. For this reason, it is best to remove the cake 2-3 hours before serving.

Yes, just as with most of our cake recipes (from carrot cake to almond cake, white cake and more), these layers freeze perfectly.

Cool the freshly baked cake layers until slightly warm (or room temperature). Wrap each cake layer individually in plastic wrap followed by aluminum foil.

We like to place each cake layer on its own foil-wrapped cake board for extra support. The cake layers can be frozen for up to three months.

To thaw the cake layers, move the frozen layers to the kitchen counter, still wrapped.

Unwrap after 30-45 minutes (after condensation is no longer forming on the wrapping). Continue to thaw as needed before assembling the cake. (Many bakers like to assemble their cakes when the layers are still partially frozen as they are less fragile.)

More Classic Cake Recipes

In addition to our Yellow Cake Recipe which this recipe is based on, there are several more classic cake recipes that you must try!

Some of our most popular are our Carrot Cake Recipe, German Chocolate Cake, Strawberry Cake, and Italian Cream Cake. Here are a few more:

Enjoy the Recipe

Thanks so much for stopping by! If you give this marble cake a try, we would love for you to leave a comment and photo below! We have a delicious Marble Cake Mix recipe as well as a Marble Pound Cake!

Also, if you are a fan of homemade cake recipes, don't miss our full collection of scratch cakes!

This homemade Marble Cake recipe is the BEST!

Marble Cake from Scratch

This moist and delicious Marble Cake recipe is always a crowd pleaser! Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting (we love it with our Classic Chocolate Buttercream)!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 28 minutes
Course: Dessert
Servings: 15 servings
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Ingredients

  • 3 cups (342g) cake flour
  • 2 cups (400g) sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon (3g )salt
  • 2 sticks (226g) unsalted butter, softened.
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature.
  • 1 ¼ cup (299g) buttermilk *If you do not have buttermilk see note below.
  • 1 Tablespoon (12g) vanilla extract
  • 4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder measure then sift + 3 to 4 Tablespoons very hot water (for marbling)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour three 8x2 inch round cake pans. Place a piece of parchment in the bottom of each pan. (Note that we used three layers- this recipe has been updated since our photos were taken. We will update the photos soon!)
  • Put the first 5 ingredients into the bowl of your mixer. Mix on low speed for at least 30 seconds to combine.
  • Add the softened butter (cut into pieces) mix on low speed just until it looks like coarse sand. The dry ingredients will be moistened/coated by the butter and will stick to together if you press some between two fingers. Don't over-mix or it will turn into a large dough-like ball.
  • Add the eggs 1 at a time, mixing until blended. 
  • Add the vanilla to the 1 ¼ cup buttermilk. With the mixer on lowest speed gradually pour into the mixer. Increase the speed to #2 or # 3 (on a KitchenAid mixer). Mix for about 2 minutes, batter will be smooth and fluffy. If you are using a hand mixer rather than a stand mixer, mix a bit longer.

MARBLING INSTRUCTIONS

  • Mix 4 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder with 3 to 4 Tablespoons very hot water. Stir until smooth & set aside.
  • Put 1 ½ cups cake batter into a medium sized bowl and stir in the chocolate mixture to create chocolate batter. Set aside.
  • Put about a cup of yellow batter into each of the three pans & spread, then add a few dollops of chocolate batter by the spoonful to each of the pans. Swirl with offset spatula or knife (we usually use something about ½ inch wide). Add more yellow batter by the spoonful, adding chocolate batter here and there until finished. Swirl this newly added yellow and chocolate. Be careful not to over-swirl- you'll lose the contrasting colors.
  • Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then turn out.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

** Buttermilk Substitute: In a measuring cup add 2 Tablespoons white vinegar or lemon juice. Fill the cup with milk to the 1 ¼ mark, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. 

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180 Comments

  1. Can i make this cake using the traditional creaming method as opposed to the reverse creaming method?

  2. This recipe is a hit whenever I make it. Can I add sprinkles to turn it into a funfetti cake?
    Thanks.

  3. This is the #1 requested cake for my family's birthdays--and I have made many different cakes over the years. This is GOOD stuff!

  4. absolutely the best marble cake recipe ever. moist, 3 8 inch layers the hit of the party! thank you!

    1. Hi Lora! Thank you so much for your feedback about the marble cake. I'm so glad that you all enjoyed it!