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 Never Miss A Cake
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

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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.
4.99 from 97 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 9 cups
Calories: 822kcal


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


  • Stand Mixer
  • Paddle Attachment


  • 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. 


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


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%)
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115 comments on “Marble Cake

  1. Hi Liz, Thanks again for all of your amazing recipes and tips. You’re my go-to professional baker.
    My question, I am attempting a large cake project that requires sturdy cake layers. It will have various sizes and shape cake layers that will be stacked high. Would you recommend using this cake recipe for something like that?

    1. Hi Denyel, yes this marble cake recipe is very soft and moist but also sturdy for stacked and sculpted cakes. I used this recipe for my ‘Light Fury’ cake tutorial. I also have cake recipes specifically for sculpting if you need something extra extra sturdy. Hope this helps!

  2. 5 stars
    This marble cake is so delicious and easy to make! There is no need for any other recipe!

  3. What do you do when the recipe calls for a fraction of an egg? Use egg white or break a yolk apart?


  4. 5 stars
    I made this for a friend’s kid’s birthday. It was a big hit. and My husband and I ate the scraps I cut off when I leveled it. SO GOOD. Could tell just from the scraps how fluffy but not-at-all dry it was. I make a lot of cakes and my husband is my main taste tester and he immediately declared that this is the cake he wants for his birthday in 3 months! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  5. 5 stars
    This was by far the best cake I have ever made and it was so moist and fluffy. I followed the recipe exact and everything went great. My friends who have tried everything I make were speechless after they ate it.

    I just had to make more ganache as I didn’t have enough for the final coat – but I am sure I waisted some more between the layers lol. I end up making the ganache first and let it set while I made the sponge – so by the time my cake cooled off , the ganache was perfect consistency. I added some pecans between the layers for some crunch.
    THANK YOU for all your recipes and videos- you have been my Covid free time and definitely I became Covid baker .

  6. 5 stars
    This cake turned out AMAZING! super moist, and delicious!! The only problem I seemed to run into….I baked the cake, let it cool, wrapped it and froze for about 6 days before decorating. When we ate the cake….it was sort of crumbly to me…not dry…yet crumbly. Did I do something wrong? Or what could have caused this? Thank you!!

  7. Can I use normal flour or does it need to be cake flour?

    1. This recipe needs cake flour because it uses the reverse creaming method. If you use AP flour it could turn out with a cornbread-like consistency, so using a softer flour will make it have that delicious texture.

  8. Hi Liz, I’d love to make this cake. Could you please give the ingredients in cups?


    1. Hi Ameera, my cake recipes are only in ounces and grams because it is more accurate to measure by weight than volume. I know it’s a new challenge for many people but it really makes baking easier! I have information about how to use a scale and an ounces to cups conversion chart on my blog post if you can’t get a scale right now though:

  9. Hello Liz. I am a huge fan of all your recipes. I have to make a marble cake for a carved cake? I would like to only use your recipe? Can this be used for carving?

    1. Thank you! Yes I use it to carve all the time.

  10. Hi Liz! I want to make this cake but i have an electric oven it doesn’t have a 335°F on the ticks. what do a i do?

  11. 5 stars
    I made this for my mothers birthday. This is the best marble cake I ever had!

  12. Can I use the same amount of egg whites than whole eggs in this recipe. I’d like to colour the cake.

  13. 5 stars
    First off that was the best tasting batter that I have had since my momma and will be my go to vanilla cake recipe…
    The cakes are in the oven now and I can’t wait… I’m making your butter cream and chocolate Gamache (forgive spelling) and going to try to marble the outside 2. My daughter’s 24 birthday ❤

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