Marble cake with chocolate ganache frosting

Moist and fluffy marble cake recipe with chocolate ganache frosting. Making marble cake from scratch is very easy, so say goodbye to the box mix.
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Print Recipe
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 9 cups
marble cake on white plate

How to turn my favorite vanilla cake recipe into a moist and fluffy marble cake

Moist and fluffy marble cake made from scratch doesn’t have to be complicated. Many times, you guys have asked me for an easy marble cake recipe that did not require two cake recipes and after much testing, I finally have the PERFECT marble cake recipe for you! 

marble cake on white plate

Why is it called a marble cake?

Marble cake is made when you add a small amount of dark-colored batter to light-colored batter and lightly mix it to give the cake a marbled appearance. 

The idea of marbling two different colored batters into a cake originated in nineteenth-century Germany. Marble cake made its way to America with German immigrants before the Civil War. Originally the cakes were marbled with molasses and spices.

three slices of marble cake with chocolate frosting on white plates with gold forks

In 1889, a recipe appeared in a popular cookbook that took advantage of American’s obsession with chocolate and replaced the molasses with chocolate. Thus, the popular marble cake that we know about today was born. 

During the 50’s all the way through the 70’s, bakeries in New York where adding almond extract to their marble cake batter as a signature flavor and sometimes referred to as German marble cake. 

three slices of marble cake on three white plates with gold forks. Shot from above. Surrounded by three copper mugs, greenery and cherry blossoms

What makes marble cake moist?

Whenever you’re introducing cocoa powder into a cake recipe, it can dry the cake out. Think about how many times you’ve had a dry chocolate cake? 

So it’s important to bloom your cocoa powder before mixing it with your vanilla cake batter. Blooming is when you combine the cocoa powder with hot water, coffee or cold oil and let it sit for a few minutes until it starts to look spongy. 

blooming cocoa powder with hot water in a clear bowl and metal whisk

Now that the cocoa powder is moistened, it won’t suck up all the moisture from your vanilla cake batter. 

Other ingredients in this cake that make it moist

Buttermilk – Add moisture, a delicate texture and flavor to the cake 

Oil – Keeps the marble cake from drying out and adds moisture

Whole eggs – The egg yolks add moisture to the cake as well as structure

How do you marble vanilla and chocolate cake batter?

There is a bit of technique when it comes to the perfect marble. Most people over-do it. The trick is to layer your chocolate batter between two layers of vanilla, then use a butter knife to make small figure 8 motions moving from the top of the batter to the bottom. 

Vanilla and chocolate cake batter in a cake pan and lightly marbled together

This motion drags the chocolate batter through the vanilla and looks beautiful when you cut into it. 

Just don’t marble too much or you’ll just end up with a splotchy looking chocolate cake. 

marble cake freshly baked in a cake pan, cooling on a wire rack

Can you bake this cake in other pans?

Surprisingly, I get this question a lot. This recipe is meant to be baked in three 8″ cake pans so that you get three nice layers of cake in each slice. But you can definitely use other sizes of cake pans like a 1/4 sheet pan or square pans.

You may need to increase or decrease the recipe to fit the size of your pan.

marble bundt cake shot from above with a slice taken out

You can also use this recipe to make a bundt cake or individual loaves. Just follow the same process of taking out 1/3 of the batter and adding in the bloomed cocoa powder to make the vanilla cake batter chocolate.

Marble cake was originally more of a snacking cake. Meant to be sliced and served without frosting and eaten with tea or coffee-like coffee cake. 

You can also use this recipe to make cupcakes but it makes a lot! My cupcakes baked at 350ºF for 15 minutes but you should bake them until the center bounces back when you touch it. 

How to decorate a marble cake

If you want to decorate your marble cake like mine, then follow these simple steps. 

  1. Make your chocolate ganache and set it aside to cool at room temperature until it reaches peanut butter consistency. 
  2. Bake your marble cakes and then either wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge to chill overnight or freeze for 30 minutes before frosting. Trim off the cake dome if you have one. 
  3. Place your first cake layer onto your cake plate then spread on a layer of the ganache about 1/4 thick. Repeat with the last two layers.
  4. Cover the whole cake in a thin layer of ganache called the crumb coat. Put the whole cake in the fridge for 20 minutes. 
  5. Prepare your chocolate drip and let it cool to 90ºF
  6. Apply your final layer of ganache and smooth it out with your offset spatula and bench scraper. 
  7. Using a soft (new) makeup brush, apply some cocoa powder to the outside of the ganache to make it look like it has a velvet texture. 
  8. Put your drip ganache into a piping bag and snip off the tip
  9. Drip the ganache all the way around the top of the cake and finish off with grafitti sprinkles

marble cake frosted with chocolate ganache with chocolate ganache drip and sprinkles on top

Want more recipe ideas? 

Cinnamon toast cake
Chocolate bundt cake
White velvet cake

Cake Batter and Frosting Calculator

Select an option below to calculate how much batter or frosting you need. Adjust the servings slider on the recipe card to change the amounts the recipe makes.

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Cups of Batter Needed

8 cups

Cups of Frosting Needed

5 cups

Note: measurements are estimated based off the vanilla cake recipe using standard US cake pans and sizes. Measurements used are for 2" tall cake pans only. Your results may vary. Do not overfill cake pans above manufacturer's recommended guidelines.

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
marble cake on white plate

Marble cake with chocolate ganache frosting

Moist and fluffy marble cake recipe with chocolate ganache frosting. Making marble cake from scratch is very easy, so say goodbye to the box mix.
4.96 from 23 votes
Print Rate
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 9 cups
Calories: 822kcal

Ingredients

Marble Cake Ingredients

  • 16 ounces (454 g) cake flour
  • 16 ounces (454 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large (4 large) eggs room temperature
  • 5 ounces (142 g) vegetable oil
  • 14 ounces (397 g) buttermilk room temperature or slightly warm
  • 8 ounces (227 g) butter unsalted and softened
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 ounce (29 g) cocoa powder dutch or natural
  • 3 ounces (85 g) hot water
  • 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder for dusting

Ganache Frosting

  • 16 ounces (454 g) semi-sweet chocolate
  • 16 ounces (454 g) heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ganache Drip

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 4 ounces heavy whipping cream

Equipment

  • Stand Mixer
  • Paddle Attachment

Instructions

  • Prepare three 8"x2" cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan spray. Preheat your oven to 335ºF
  • Heat your water until simmering and then combine with your cocoa powder. Stir until cocoa powder is moistened. It will look lumpy but that is normal. Set it aside and let it cool while you prepare the cake batter.
  • Combine 3/4 cup of the milk and the oil together and set aside. 
  • Combine the remaining milk, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract together, whisk to break up the eggs and set aside. 
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with the paddle attachment. Mix 10 seconds to combine. 
  • Add your softened butter to the flour mixture and mix on low until mixture resembles coarse sand (about 30 seconds).
  • Add in your milk/oil mixture and mix on low until dry ingredients are moistened. Then increase the speed to medium (setting 4 on my KitchenAid) and let it mix for 2 minutes to develop the cake's structure. If you don't let your cake mix on this step your cake could collapse. 
  • Scrape your bowl and then reduce speed to low. Add in your egg mixture in three batches, letting the batter mix for 15 seconds between additions. 
  • Scrape down the sides again to make sure everything has incorporated.
  • Take out 1/3 of your batter and combine it with the cooled chocolate mixture and fold gently until combined.
  • Layer your batter into your pans, starting with vanilla, then chocolate and ending with vanilla. Use a butter knife to swirl together gently. Do not over-mix or your cake will not have a marbled interior.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes at 335ºF until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out cleanly but the cake has not begun to shrink yet from the sides of the pan. 
    IMMEDIATELY TAP PAN FIRMLY on countertop once to release the steam from the cake. This stops the cake from shrinking. 
  • Let cakes cool for 10 minutes inside the pan before flipping them out. The cake will shrink a bit and that is normal. Flip onto a cooling rack and let cool fully. I chill my cakes before handling or you can wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them to trap moisture in the cake. Thaw on the countertop while still wrapped before frosting. 

Ganache Instructions

  • Place your chocolate into a heatproof bowl
  • Heat your cream until it just begins to simmer, do not boil or your ganache will be grainy.
  • Pour the hot cream over your chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes
  • Add in your vanilla and salt to the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth and creamy
  • Pour your ganache into a shallow pan and let cool to peanut butter consistency. Mine takes about 20 minutes to thicken up.
  • Frost your cake with the ganache and then place into the fridge for 20 minutes then dust with cocoa powder using a soft (new) makeup brush to make the velvet texture

Ganache drip

  • Heat cream until just steaming and pour over chocolate. Let sit 5 minutes then whisk until smooth. Let cool until slightly warm to the touch before piping onto your CHILLED cake. 

Notes

Buttermilk substitute - regular milk plus 2 Tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. You can also use powdered buttermilk. 
Important Things To Note Before You Start
1. Bring all your ingredients to room temperature or even a little warm (eggs, buttermilk, butter, etc) to ensure your batter does not break or curdle. 
2. Use a scale to weigh your ingredients (including liquids) unless otherwise instructed (Tablespoons, teaspoons, pinch etc). Metric measurements are available in the recipe card. Scaled ingredients are much more accurate than using cups and help ensure the success of your recipe. 
3. Practice Mise en Place (everything in it's place). Measure out your ingredients ahead of time and have them ready before you start mixing to reduce the chances of accidentally leaving something out.
4. Chill your cakes before frosting and filling. You can cover a frosted and chilled cake in fondant if you wish. This cake is also great for stacking. I always keep my cakes chilled in the refrigerator before delivery for easy transporting. Learn more about decorating your first cake. 
5. If the recipe calls for specific ingredients like cake flour, replacing it with all purpose flour and cornstarch is not recommended unless specified in the recipe that it’s ok. Substituting ingredients may cause this recipe to fail. 
All purpose flour is a plain flour with no rising agents. It has a protein level of 10%-12%
Cake flour is a soft, low protein flour of 9% or less. 
Cake flour sources: UK - Shipton Mills Cake & Pastry Flour

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 822kcal (41%) | Carbohydrates: 73g (24%) | Protein: 10g (20%) | Fat: 56g (86%) | Saturated Fat: 36g (180%) | Cholesterol: 150mg (50%) | Sodium: 455mg (19%) | Potassium: 463mg (13%) | Fiber: 5g (20%) | Sugar: 44g (49%) | Vitamin A: 1162IU (23%) | Vitamin C: 1mg (1%) | Calcium: 138mg (14%) | Iron: 3mg (17%)
 

79 comments on “Marble Cake

  1. I want to try your recipe but don’t see the temperature you baked this cake at. I’m guessing 350 degrees F but some cake recipes are now baking at 325 degrees F. Thanks for any help.

  2. If I wanted to get the same height out of this but in a 9inch diameter cake off hand how much more batter would I need? If you know off hand?

  3. Trying to make this but can’t get my hands on milk right now. Would almond milk work instead? Love your recipes!! Thank you!

  4. If I try to make half of the recipe, would it change the texture??

    I try half of your white velvet cake recipe since I was trying it for the first time. The taste of the cake is pretty great, but my consistency not so much 🙁

    I would really like to hear your thoughts.

    Thank you ?
    Your cakes are amazing.

    1. You can increase or decrease the amounts to anything you want. Just be sure to use the ingredients as listed, all room temp and follow the mixing instructions.

  5. Hi

    Can this be made by using 3 or 4, 6 inch pans, and how would I adjust the recipe?
    Thank you in advance

    1. You can use any size cake pan that you desire. Just increase or decrease the amount of batter by adjusting the servings size in the recipe card

  6. Hi Liz!! I’m big fan of your recipes. I almost use your recipes. I really wanna make this cake for my son’s birthday. I would like to know can I use unbleached cake flour instead of cake flour..? Please let me know. Thank you and stay safe.

    1. You can if that’s all you can get but unbleached cake flour is similar in gluten content to all-purpose flour so the texture of your cake will be a bit heavier like cornbread.

  7. Hi Liz,
    Is the oven temperature with fan or without?
    thx!

  8. Are your recipes generally no fan? (this will save me asking every time LOL!)

  9. Not sure what happened but my cake shrink after I remove from the oven, reducing like an inch after I finish 🙁

  10. My ganache doesn’t look like peanut butter consistency. I followed the recipe. Maybe because I didn’t use a sheet pan?

  11. Hello! At one point, for the crumb coat, you say “buttercream”. Did you mean ganache or does this recipe call for chocolate buttercream also? Thanks!

  12. Hi, I just have one question cause I don’t have your type of mixer.. I have de classic one, a sunbeam mixer so I’m afraid to do a mess when I add the butter to de the dry ingredients so I wanna know if I can do it in another way more you manual without using the mixer.

  13. In order to get two 8×2″ and two 6×2″ cakes to make a small tiered birthday cake, could I get by with just this amount, or would I need to make a batch and a half and just have some left over batter?

    Thanks so much!!!

  14. 4 stars
    The cake turned out delicious! What a great recipe. It’s was soft, moist and had a great flavor with the marbling. I just struggled with the ganache, it thickened slightly but nowhere near peanuts butter consistency. Next time, I’ll probably mix it for longer.

  15. Hi Liz,
    Would it be possible to add the whole batter to 8″ ×4″ pan and how different will be the baking time?

  16. Will this marble cake taste good with your chocolate fudge frosting from your easy chocolate cake recipe?

  17. Hi! I’ve never made one of your cakes. This is the first time I’ve found you. I was wondering if I can use a healthier oil in place of the vegetable oil. Thank you in advance. 😊

  18. Followed the chocolate ganache recipe in here and it’s not reaching peanut butter consistency after 1 hour. After seeing your video of how to make this, I figured this recipe of marbled cake is not following the 2:1 ratio… is this why my ganache failed???

  19. By how many servings do I adjust the serving card to make 2 8″ round cakes? (Btw I can’t see any of the older comments when I click on the button that says older comments. Can you please fix that?)

    1. The comments should load in without having to click anything. Try refreshing the page. The cake already makes two 8″ rounds

  20. does it make exactly 2 8″ inch round or does it also make extra?

  21. 5 stars
    Hi Liz, I made this cake for an order. So yummy. I have one question tho. My cake had a bend mark around the cake. Why is that?

    1. It could have been a little over-baked which causes the cake to shrink or it could be your cake pans if you’re using wilton cake pans

  22. Hi Liz! I want to make this cake but I can’t get any cake flour☹️. Can I just use Ap flour?

  23. 5 stars
    Hi Liz, I made this cake for an order and it was a hit! Love, love your videos and recipes.
    Thank you

  24. Hi Liz, I want to make this cake but have a question about the egg weight. In the video you said that each egg should weigh about 1.6 oz, well I have organic eggs at home and they weigh about 2.0 oz each. I was wondering if I can multiply 1.6 oz by 4 to get the total weight of the eggs, so I can just weigh my eggs and get the total weight. Please let me know If this is ok.

    1. Yes, just use as many eggs as it takes to reach the weight called for in the recipe. This is why a scale is so great 🙂

  25. Hi, Liz I have a question about the ganache frosting I was wondering if we can put the ganache frosting in a piping bag and write something on a cake with the ganache frosting? If the ganache frosting is ok to write with how much extra do you think I should make? My last question is can we make the ganache frosting ahead of time and keep it in the fridge? Please let me know.

  26. Hi Liz, for this cake can we use a low fat buttermilk?

  27. 5 stars
    This is the best marble cake that I ever made. I tried a few and they were always dry so whenever a client asked me for marble cake, I told them that I don’t do marble cake. Don’t have that excuse anymore. Thanks😁

  28. Hi Liz!!

    So for cupcakes, do we swirl before adding to the cupcake pan or swirl as we drop into the pan? Hope that makes sense!

    Also, how many cups does this batter make?

    1. I would swirl the batter before and then scoop the swirled batter into the cupcake liners but you could do either way.

  29. 5 stars
    It looks so lovely and I’m excited to try it. I will leave a comment of the result here. But I want to know if I can just use an Electric Hand mixer?

  30. Hi Liz, normally your recipes will say ‘Serves 8 cups or 4 cups’, that way when I use the glider for the right pan size, I will know how much to follow. How come for this marble cakes it says “Serves: 24 servings”?

    I actually would like to do only one 8 x 2 pan and my math is bad…. can you please assist? thanks

  31. Thank you for the update. One more question, the egg, you mentioned it should be 1.6oz is that with shell or without? Thanks again.

    1. Without the shell and a few points up or down is ok. Ive had some large eggs that weigh 1.7 and some that are 1.5

  32. Thank you for the recipes and videos. Has anyone ever mentioned adjustments that work for high elevation? I’m at about 3500 above sea level. I have made your vanilla cake and followed the recipe with no alterations and it taste great. It was just so tender and almost falling apart. I would like to try this recipe but wonder if I need to modify for a stronger structure at the higher elevation. Again thank you for sharing.

  33. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! It’s a my top requested cake for parties!!! Was wondering if I could make it into cupcakes for my littles next birthday. How long would you bake?

    1. I would use my vanilla cake recipe if you wanted to make this into cupcakes. You can still remove part of the batter and add cocoa to it to make them into marble cupcakes.

  34. 5 stars
    Awesome recipe ever cake was moist and fluffy added some thc oil and butter in there and it was even better

  35. 5 stars
    Can I whip the ganache? Or will it ruin the consistency?

  36. 5 stars
    Best Marble cake ever! Tender crumb, moist and flavorful. This is the exact taste, texture and flavor I want in a Marble cake. This is just spot-on. My search is over. Thank you for an amazing recipe!

  37. hi i do not have a stand mixer. can i use a hand mixer for the cake and ganache. thank u!!

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