Marble Cake

This marble cake was selected from a list of candidates for my GIL’s 90th birthday party. The recipe comes from Cake Paper Party, where I have found some of the best and most consistent cake and frosting recipes I’ve ever baked.

The cake in this recipe was very easy to make. The crumb ended up on the dry side of the spectrum (a complaint of my wife), but this is probably because I might have over-baked the cakes by 1-2 minutes (~29 minutes) and because the cakes spent the night wrapped in the refrigerator after “cooling” all day and some problems with the frosting. Being a butter cake, I debated brushing the cakes with a simple syrup to enhance the moisture, but I ultimately decided not to complicate things too much. Despite the complaint, I enjoyed the cake and did not think that it was overly dry.

I was nervous that I was going to swirl the marble too much, but, ultimately, I don’t think I swirled enough. The marbling would have been better had I dolloped spoonfuls of the chocolate batter throughout the pan rather than plopping it down on top of the vanilla batter.

The frosting was more difficult, however, mostly as a result of temperature. The original recipe heats the ingredients in the microwave until just boiling. I heated them in a saucepan on the stove top until boiling, which was likely a lot warmer than the recipe anticipated. As I proceeded through the directions, I had frosting soup on my hands. I let it cool and cool and cool, then kept mixing and mixing and mixing. But it never got to a consistency that I felt comfortable spreading on the cakes.

So, I decided to let it chill in the fridge overnight and thaw in the morning before whipping. But the frosting was too hard, even after a few hours of thawing! Eventually, I was able to get the whisk attachment on my stand mixer into the frosting to whip. The frosting ended up delicious, regardless of the process.

I typically wait to decide how I’m going to decorate a cake until I know the quantity and consistency of the frosting. While the frosting was relatively smooth, I didn’t really feel like being anal retentive that day, so I used a decorating comb on the sides and spread sprinkles over top. The piping was the final touch. I really liked the way that this cake looked.


Based on this recipe.


Marble Cake:
6 tbsp. very hot water (I used coffee)
1 oz. (30 g) unsweetened chocolate
1/3 cup (30 g, 1 oz.) Dutch processed cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups (340 g, 12 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups (340 g, 13 oz.) granulated sugar
5 large eggs
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup + 2 tbsp. cold buttermilk

Rich Chocolate Buttercream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup (115 g, 4 oz.) mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup (50 g, 1.75 oz.) granulated sugar
2 tbsp. corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 oz. (45 g) natural or Dutch processed cocoa powder
14 oz. (400 g) dark, milk, or white chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups (170 g, 6 oz.) powdered sugar


  1. For the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 8″ parchment-lined cake pans.
  2. In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine unsweetened chocolate and hot water. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir to blend. If not melted, heat in microwave in 15 second increments until melted.
  3. Stir in cocoa powder, then set chocolate mixture aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 1 1/2 minutes.
  6. Add eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  7. On low speed, sprinkle in the dry ingredients to moisten.
  8. Pour in the buttermilk, then beat on medium speed for 1 minute until well combined.
  9. Remove two-thirds of the batter (~979 g) to a large bowl and set aside.
  10. Add chocolate mixture to remaining one-third of the batter, then beat for 30 seconds until fully incorporated.
  11. Evenly spread a two-thirds of the vanilla batter in the bottom of the cake pans (~217 g each).
  12. Top each cake pan with the chocolate batter (~204 g each), then add the remaining vanilla batter (~108 g each).
  13. Swirl the batters together with a butter knife, being careful not to over-mix.
  14. Bake cakes for 25-30 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool cakes for 10 minutes in the pans, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  15. For the frosting: In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, corn syrup, and salt until just boiling.
  16. Add the chocolate, let sit for 1 minute (or cool to luke warm/room temperature), then stir to combine.
  17. Place mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment.
  18. Add the cocoa powder, then beat on medium speed until smooth.
  19. Reduce speed to medium-low, then add the butter 2 tablespoons at a time.
  20. Add the vanilla.
  21. Add the powdered sugar, then beat 1-2 minutes to desired lightness. Place in refrigerator or freezer to cool to desired consistency (beat to lighten before frosting).
  22. Frost the cakes as desired.