Moist vanilla cake beribboned with swirls of chocolate cake feature in this delicious marble cake recipe. Make this easy recipe as a layer cake or a Bundt cake; my step by step directions help to make the marbling easy either way.
I have been playing around with traditional marble cake recipes for years – making variations like Cinnamon Dolce Latte Cake and Chocolate Orange Marble Cake – but I know that going back to basics is never a bad idea. Besides, the layer cake version of this recipe is my son’s favourite cake, and by extension one of mine. It is the one he chose for birthdays year after year when he was growing up and I have so many happy memories around it.
Tips for Making Marble Cake
- Use the very best vanilla that you can; it really makes a difference.
- Be sure to add a teaspoon of the flour mixture and beat well after each egg. This can help prevent the cake batter from curdling. If the batter does curdle, all is not lost. Just carry on with the recipe. The texture of the cake is better when you can avoid the batter curdling, but it is hardly noticeable.
- Follow the directions for marbling the cake depending on which version you are making (see below). Either way, do not lift your knife while marbling.
- If you make the Bundt cake version and glaze it with both chocolate and vanilla glaze, you will get the best results if you let the first glaze dry before adding the second. In my experience, doing the chocolate glaze first works best. Once it is completely dry – allow at least an hour, or more if you can – then glaze the cake with the vanilla glaze. This gives a much better result as it prevents the glazes from smudging into each other.
Step By Step Marbling Directions for Traditional Marble Cake
As I mentioned, this cake can be made as a Bundt Cake or as a layer cake. However, the process for marbling is slightly different for each.
1. Put a layer of vanilla marble cake batter in the prepared bundt pan.
2. Dollop three spoonfuls of the chocolate marble cake batter and three spoonfuls of the vanilla batter alternately over top of the layer of vanilla batter.
3. Top each of the spoonfuls of chocolate batter with a spoonful of vanilla batter, and each of the spoonfuls of vanilla batter with a spoonful of the chocolate.
4. Run a dinner knife or kitchen palate knife through the batter in a wavy line, once through the cake only. Do not lift the knife.
- Divide the vanilla cake batter between the two cake pans and smooth the top.
- Dollop three to four blobs of chocolate cake batter evenly over top of the batter in each layer cake pan.
- Draw a pallet knife for icing or a kitchen knife carefully, once only, through the mixture in each pan. Go in one direction first, and then the other, but not too close together. Clean the knife between pans, and do not lift the knife until you have finished marbling each pan.
Glazing or Frosting Your Marble Cake
A traditional buttercream frosting is perfect for the layer cake version of Marble Cake. I mentioned before this is our son’s favourite cake, and he prefers it with vanilla icing both between the layers and on the top and sides. Honestly, so do I.
Of course, you can switch up the frosting for the layer cake, frosting between the layers with chocolate buttercream and on the top and sides with vanilla buttercream or vice versa. In this case, be abstemious with the icing between the layers, leaving a small gap around the edges. This will help prevent the chocolate or vanilla frosting in the middle from getting mixed up with the different frosting you are putting on the top and sides.
I love to glaze the Bundt Cake version with both chocolate and vanilla glaze to keep the chocolate/vanilla theme going.
There are directions and recipes for frosting the whole cake with vanilla buttercream, and for glazing both the layer and Bundt cake versions in the printable recipe below.
How to Keep and Serve This Cake
Whether you make this recipe as a layer cake or a bundt cake, it never fails to impress. It’s a great cake to have around over a weekend for snacks and desserts as it keeps for two to three days covered at room temperature. My absolute favourite way to serve it is with a scoop of really good vanilla ice cream sprinkled with a little bit of sieved cocoa. I hope you love this recipe as much as we do, and that it becomes part of your family traditions too.
Traditional Marble Cake – Printable Recipe
Traditional Marble Cake
For the Cake
- ¾ cup butter softened
- 1¼ cups white sugar
- 4 eggs beaten
- 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla
- 3 cups all purpose plain flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk divided
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder not drinking chocolate
For the Chocolate Glaze (if using)
- ¾ cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon golden syrup or corn syrup
For the Vanilla Glaze (if using)
- For the vanilla glaze:
- 1 cup confectioner’s sugar icing sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
For the Buttercream (if using)
- 1 cup butter
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons hot water you may need more or less
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°F).
- Grease a bundt pan with butter, or spray with quick release baking spray. Or grease two layer cake pans. You can also line the bottom of the layer cake pans with greaseproof paper if you like.
- Cream the butter and sugar for the cake together in an electric mixer.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and set aside.
- Add the eggs, one at a time. Add a tablespoon of the flour mixture with each etc and blend into the batter thoroughly. Do this until you have blended all four eggs in to the mixture.
- Add the vanilla and beat the mixture until smooth (about 2 minutes).
- Measure out the milk. Remove 2 tablespoons and put in a small container. Set aside.
- Add the flour mixture to the batter alternately with the largest amount of milk. Do this in two additions of flour and two additions of milk.
- Remove a generous half cup of batter and place in a medium bowl.
- Sift the cocoa powder into this batter in the medium bowl and stir through thoroughly until well blended.
- Add the two tablespoons of milk that were set aside earlier and mix to a smooth batter.
- Put a layer of vanilla batter in the prepared Bundt pan or layer cake pans.
- For the Bundt pan, Dollop three spoonfuls of the chocolate batter and three spoonfuls of the vanilla batter alternately over top of the layer of vanilla batter.
- Top each of the spoonfuls of chocolate batter with a spoonful of vanilla batter, and each of the spoonfuls of vanilla batter with a spoonful of the chocolate.
- Run a dinner knife or kitchen palate knife through the batter in a wavy line, once round the cake only.
- For the layer cake pans, divide the vanilla batter between the two cake pans. Dollop four medium blobs of chocolate batter over each layer.
- Run a palette knife or dinner knife through the cakes in an up and down motion, just once across each layer.
- Bake for the Bundt cake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean. Bake the layer cakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of each layer comes out clean.
- Remove the cake(s) from the oven and cool in the pan for about 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove the cake from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
- Scroll down for directions to make vanilla buttercream for the cake layers.If glazing the Bundt cake, make the chocolate glaze by melting the chocolate chips and butter together in a double boiler, whisking constantly
- Add the golden syrup and beat until smooth and shiny.
- Drizzle over the cake.
- Let the glaze dry for at least an hour if you can before making the vanilla glaze.
- To make the vanilla glaze:
- Put the confectioner’s sugar in a bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the water and the vanilla.
- Whisk together.
- Add the remaining water, a bit at a time, until a smooth, drizzle-able consistency is reached. (You may not need all the water.)
- Drizzle over the cake.
- Allow the glaze to dry before serving.
To Frost – Vanilla Buttercream Instructions
- Put the butter in a clean bowl of the electric mixer.
- Sift the icing sugar into the bowl.
- Turn the mixer on to VERY LOW speed and blend the butter and icing sugar together until well blended, scraping the bowl down with a spatula.
- Spread the buttercream frosting over the top of one of the cake layers.
- Place the remaining cake layer on top of the frosted layer and frost the top and sides of the cake.