Easy Marble Cake

You can transform my favorite vanilla cake into the best marble cake by adding a little chocolate! Super easy and super tasty!
↓ Recipe ↓ Video Never Miss A Cake
Total Time: 40 mins
Serves: 9 cups
close up slice of 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. After a lot of testing, I finally have the PERFECT marble cake recipe for you based on my ever-popular vanilla cake recipe

What makes this marble cake so amazing is all you have to do is make the vanilla cake and then flavor part of the cake with my chocolate mixture to make the chocolate batter then swirl it all together! Simple!

Pair it with ganache frosting and ganache drip and you’ve got yourself a vanilla and chocolate lover’s dream cake!

Marble Cake Ingredients

Buttermilk – Buttermilk adds moisture, delicate texture, and flavor to the cake. If you do not have buttermilk, you can make your own using my preferred buttermilk substitutes.

Cake flour – Cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour. What this means is that when you use cake flour in your cake recipe, your cake will be more tender and have a softer crumb.

PRO TIP: Do not fall for the “just add cornstarch to regular flour” trick. It does not work for this recipe. Your cake will look and taste like cornbread.

If you’re in the UK search for Shipton mills soft cake and pastry flour or flour that has a protein level of 9% or less.

Cake Batter Instructions

  1. Prepare three 8″x2″ cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan spray. Preheat your oven to 335ºF (168ºC).
  2. Bring your butter, milk, and eggs to room temperature. It’s really important when making a cake for the ingredients to all be slightly warm so they create an emulsion.
  3. Heat the water until it’s simmering and then combine it with your cocoa powder.
  4. Stir it until the cocoa powder is moistened. It will look lumpy, but that is normal. blooming cocoa powder with hot water in a clear bowl and metal whisk
  5. Set it aside and let it cool while you prepare the cake batter.
  6. In a separate container, combine 3/4 cup of the milk and the oil together and set it aside.
  7. In a separate container, combine the remaining milk, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract together. Whisk it to break up the eggs, and then set it aside.
  8. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with the paddle attachment. Mix for 10 seconds to combine everything.
  9. Add your softened butter to the flour mixture and mix on low until the mixture resembles coarse sand (this takes about 30 seconds). This style of mixing is called the reverse creaming method, and it will result in a very velvety, moist cake. A lot of my other cake recipes like brown butter cake and white velvet buttermilk cake use this method.
  10. Add in your milk/oil mixture and mix it on low until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  11. Increase the speed to medium (setting 2 on my Bosch Mixer, setting 4 on a 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.
  12. Scrape your bowl and then reduce the speed to low.
  13. Add in your egg mixture in three batches, letting the batter mix for 15 seconds between additions.
  14. Scrape down the sides again to make sure everything has incorporated.

Marbling the Cake Batter Step-by-Step

  1. Take out 1/3 of your batter and combine it with the cooled chocolate mixture and fold it gently until it’s combined.
  2. Layer your batter into your pans, starting with vanilla, then chocolate, and ending with vanilla.
  3. Use a butter knife to swirl them together gently. Do not over-mix or your cake will not have a marbled interior. Vanilla and chocolate cake batter in a cake pan and lightly marbled together
  4. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes at 335ºF (168ºC) or 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 THE PAN FIRMLY on the countertop once to release the steam from the cake. This stops the cake from shrinking.
  5. Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes inside of the pan before flipping them out. The cake will shrink a bit and that is normal. marble cake freshly baked in a cake pan, cooling on a wire rack
  6. Flip the cake onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely. I chill my cakes before handling them, or you can wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them to trap moisture in the cake.
  7. Thaw the cake on the countertop while it’s still wrapped before frosting.

How to Make Ganache Frosting

  1. Place your chocolate into a heatproof bowl.
  2. Heat your cream until it just begins to simmer. Do not boil it or your ganache will be grainy.
  3. Pour the hot cream over your chocolate.
  4. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Add in your vanilla and salt to the chocolate mixture and whisk it until it’s smooth and creamy.
  6. Pour your ganache into a shallow pan and let it cool to peanut butter consistency. Mine takes about 20 minutes to thicken up.
  7. Frost your cake with the ganache and then place it into the fridge for 20 minutes. This cake also pairs well with easy buttercream or chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream.
  8. Dust it with cocoa powder using a soft (new) makeup brush to make the velvet texture.

Ganache Drip Instructions

  1. Heat the cream until it’s just steaming, and then pour it over chocolate.
  2. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk it until it’s smooth.
  4. Let it cool until it’s slightly warm to the touch before piping it onto your CHILLED cake. 

Decorating the Marble Cake Step-by-Step

If you need to learn more or are new to cake decorating, check out my blog post on how to decorate your first cake.

  1. Place your first cake layer onto your cake plate, and then spread on a layer of the ganache about 1/4″ thick. Repeat this step with the last two cake layers.
  2. Cover the whole cake in a thin layer of ganache. This is called the crumb coat.
  3. Then, put the entire cake in the fridge for 20 minutes. 
  4. Prepare your chocolate drip and let it cool to 90ºF (32ºC).
  5. Apply your final layer of ganache and smooth it out with your offset spatula and bench scraper
  6. 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. 
  7. Put your drip ganache into a piping bag and snip off the tip.
  8. Drip the ganache all the way around the top of the cake and finish it off with sprinkles.
marble cake frosted with chocolate ganache with chocolate ganache drip and sprinkles on top

What is marble cake made of?

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

Why is it called a marble cake?

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 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 were adding almond extract to their marble cake batter as a signature flavor and sometimes referred to it as German marble cake. Marble cake was originally more of a snacking cake meant to be sliced and served without frosting and eaten with tea or coffee.

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

FAQ

Can I bake this cake in other pans?

Surprisingly, I get this question a lot. This recipe is meant to be baked in three 8″ x 2″ 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.

Can I use this recipe to make cupcakes?

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. 

Can I use this recipe to make a bundt cake or individual loaves?

Yes, you may use a bundt pan or a loaf pan. 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.

Can I use regular milk instead of buttermilk?

Yes, you can. But you will need to create a homemade buttermilk substitute first using regular milk along with other ingredients. There are several buttermilk substitutes I would recommend in place of buttermilk for this marble cake recipe.

Why is my marble cake dry?

Whenever you’re introducing cocoa powder into a cake recipe, it can dry the cake out. You can avoid dry cake when you 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. Now that the cocoa powder is moistened, it won’t suck up all the moisture from your vanilla cake batter. 

Why did my marble cake crack?

Your oven temperature was most likely too high. Check your oven with an oven thermometer and reduce the temperature accordingly if it is running hotter than you need it to be.

More Cake Recipes You’ll Love

Cinnamon toast cake
Chocolate bundt cake
White velvet cake

Did You Make This Recipe?Leave a rating and tell me how it went!
close up slice of marble cake

Easy Marble Cake

You can transform my favorite vanilla cake into the best marble cake by adding a little chocolate! Super easy and super tasty!
4.99 from 100 votes
Print Rate Never Miss A Cake
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

Cake Batter Instructions

  • Prepare three 8″x2″ cake pans with cake goop or another preferred pan spray. Preheat your oven to 335ºF (168ºC).
  • Bring your butter, milk, and eggs to room temperatureIt’s really important when making a cake for the ingredients to all be slightly warm so they create an emulsion.
  • Heat the water until it’s simmering and then combine it with your cocoa powder.
  • Stir it until the 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.
  • In a separate container, combine 3/4 cup of the milk and the oil together and set it aside.
  • In a separate container, combine the remaining milk, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract together. Whisk it to break up the eggs, and then set it aside.
  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with the paddle attachment. Mix for 10 seconds to combine everything.
  • Add your softened butter to the flour mixture and mix on low until the mixture resembles coarse sand (this takes about 30 seconds). This style of mixing is called the reverse creaming method, and it will result in a very velvety, moist cake. A lot of my other cake recipes like brown butter cake and white velvet buttermilk cake use this method.
  • Add in your milk/oil mixture and mix it on low until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Increase the speed to medium (setting 2 on my Bosch Mixer, setting 4 on a 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 the 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.

Marbling the Cake Batter Instructions

  • Take out 1/3 of your batter and combine it with the cooled chocolate mixture and fold it gently until it’s combined.
  • Layer your batter into your pans, starting with vanilla, then chocolate, and ending with vanilla.
  • Use a butter knife to swirl them together gently. Do not over-mix or your cake will not have a marbled interior.
  • Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes at 335ºF (168ºC) or 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 THE PAN FIRMLY on the countertop once to release the steam from the cake. This stops the cake from shrinking.
  • Let the cakes cool for 10 minutes inside of the pan before flipping them out. The cake will shrink a bit and that is normal.
  • Flip the cake onto a cooling rack and let it cool completely. I chill my cakes before handling them, or you can wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them to trap moisture in the cake.
  • Thaw the cake on the countertop while it’s still wrapped before frosting.

Ganache Frosting Instructions

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

Ganache Drip Instructions

  • Heat the cream until it’s just steaming, and then pour it over chocolate.
  • Let it sit for 5 minutes.
  • Whisk it until it’s smooth.
  • Let it cool until it’s slightly warm to the touch before piping it 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%)
Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @SugarGeekShow or tag #SugarGeek!

115 comments on “Easy 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?

    Thanks,
    Olivia

  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?

    Thanks

    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: https://sugargeekshow.com/news/digital-kitchen-scale/

  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 ❤

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating