This marble cake recipe features vanilla cake swirled with chocolate for a gorgeous marble effect. The cake is covered in a silky smooth, whipped chocolate frosting.
Classic marble cake is a mixture of vanilla and chocolate cake that is swirled together creating a marbling effect. It’s often streaked or mottled in appearance and contains more vanilla cake than chocolate.
After toying with a new vanilla cake recipe that is supremely soft and moist, I decided to turn that recipe into different cakes for the entire month of July. I dubbed July as cake month in celebration of my birthday.
This basic marble cake is probably my favorite of all the cakes so far. It’s tender, fluffy, has amazing flavor, and the frosting is out of this world.
Have you ever had whipped ganache frosting? It’s just like that! It’s made with two ingredients and feels so silky across the tongue.
Why this recipe works
- The chocolate batter is made with cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate. Mixing melted chocolate into the cake batter changed the texture of the cake. I didn’t like the variation in textures.
- The cake is made with oil and buttermilk so the texture is super soft and spongy.
- Cake flour is used to give the cake crumb a fine texture.
- Two different types of chocolate are used in the frosting so it isn’t too sweet.
Marble Cake Recipe
I just can’t get enough of this marble cake. I mean, look at that gorgeous mottled appearance. And the flavor is a lovely combination of vanilla and chocolate.
It took me a few tries to get the cake exactly how I wanted it. I played around with using melted chocolate for the chocolate portion of the cake batter. I actually didn’t care for the texture in contrast to the vanilla cake. The chocolate came out more brownie-like and I wanted both to be equally soft and spongy.
I found that cocoa powder provided exactly what I was looking for. It is chocolaty and remains soft. I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.
I used my new and improved vanilla cake to make this recipe. I added cocoa powder to a small portion of the cake batter. This makes the process of making marble cake so much easier. You don’t have to mess with making two separate batters.
When making the recipe, be sure to follow each step exactly as written and always use room temperature ingredients. When all the ingredients are the same temperature, they emulsify better. This leaves you with a lush, silky cake batter.
Marble Cake Ingredients
Marble cake recipes come in all shapes and sizes. Some make bundt cakes, some make pound cakes, some make sheet cakes, and some make layer cakes. Most recipes I’ve seen use melted chocolate but as I explained above, I don’t care for the texture contrast. Let’s discuss the ingredient list…
- Oil: I loved the cake’s texture when using oil. It is so spongy! Be sure to use a flavorless oil like canola or vegetable oil.
- Butter: A little butter is used in the cake for flavor. A lot of butter is used in the frosting. Choose unsalted butter and make sure it’s room temperature before using it.
- Sugar: Regular granulated sugar is what I tested the recipe with.
- Eggs: Needed for binding. Make sure the eggs are at room temperature before adding them to the batter or they won’t emulsify properly.
- Vanilla: Choose a high-quality pure vanilla extract.
- Flour: Cake flour is best because it produces a very fine crumb that is tender.
- Leavening: Baking powder and baking soda are needed. Make sure your leavening agents aren’t expired and are still active.
- Salt: Just a tad for flavor.
- Buttermilk: I love the way buttermilk works in this recipe! It keeps the cake moist while adding a slight tang that works with the chocolate.
- Cocoa powder: Unsweetened cocoa powder is best for the chocolate portion of the batter.
- Chocolate: Milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate are both used for making the frosting. The bittersweet tones down the milk chocolate so it doesn’t taste too sweet with the cake.
To bake this marble cake you’ll need:
- 9-inch pans: I baked the cake layers in two 9-inch round cake pans. I prefer aluminum pans over nonstick.
- Stand mixer: I always prefer my KitchenAid stand mixer when baking. It just makes the process so much easier.
- Paddle attachment: For the cake batter and frosting, I like to use the paddle attachment on the stand mixer.
The printable recipe card with full ingredient amounts and instructions can be found at the bottom of this post.
How to make marble cake
I’m going to show you how to make the best marble cake recipe! The frosting is out of the world and contains only two ingredients.
The Batter – It’s so easy and doesn’t’ require you to make two different cake batters. One batter is all you need. Cocoa powder is mixed into a small portion of that batter to create the chocolate marbling.
The Frosting – The frosting is out of the world and contains only two ingredients. You just melt chocolate and let it cool. Then mix it with butter to create a gorgeously lush frosting.
Step 1: Mix the wet ingredients
Make sure to start with room temperature ingredients. It’s crucial in order for the cake batter to blend together properly.
Cream the butter, oil, and sugar together on medium-high speed until pale in color and fluffy in appearance. This takes 3-5 minutes.
Add one egg at a time and mix on medium-low speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla extract.
Step 2: Mix the dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together very well. It’s important to make sure all the leavening is evenly distributed throughout the flour.
Add half the flour to the butter mixture and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated. Add the buttermilk followed by the remaining flour. Mix on medium-low speed just until combined. Take care not to overmix.
Step 3: Make the chocolate batter
Remove 3/4 cup of the cake batter and place in a small bowl. Add cocoa powder and whisk until very well combined.
Step 4: Swirl the vanilla and chocolate batters together
Lightly grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans. I like to also line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper to make sure the cake doesn’t stick.
Divide the vanilla batter evenly between the two pans. Drop spoonfuls of chocolate batter evenly over the vanilla batter in both pans.
Use a butter knife to swirl the chocolate batter into the vanilla batter. Be careful not to over swirl or you’ll end up mixing the two batters together instead of creating a marble effect.
Step 5: Bake the cake
Make sure the oven is preheated to 350°F. Bake the cakes for 20-25 minutes. They’re done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove them and set them on a wire rack to cool completely.
Step 6: Make the frosting
While the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
Be sure you are using softened butter that isn’t melty. It should not have an oily sheen to it. But it should be soft enough to bend easily. If it’s oily, it will be too soft and the frosting will be loose.
Melt chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of barely simmering water. Keep stirring the chocolate as it’s melting to prevent it from seizing.
Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, remove it from the heat. Allow the chocolate to cool until it’s no longer warm to the touch.
Cream the butter using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and mix on medium speed until fluffy.
If you like marble cake, you’ll love these other cake recipes: