b’s birthday – part 2: checkerboard cake

I didn’t mean to wait this long in between posts about the same meal, but the rest of life sort of got in the way. SO! here’s part two. Like I said in my last post, B had had a pretty rough week before her birthday, so I was trying to make it extra special. I had also had a recipe for a checkerboard cake – from scratch – for a while and figured now (or then) was as good a time as ever.. so, I decided to sweat it out and cook it up!

After telling my sister about it, she showed me the pans they now MAKE specifically for a checkerboard cake! but at the time, I knew nothing of it, so while it’s not as aesthetically pleasing as perhaps that pan would’ve made, I tried pretty hard. I also asked B what her favorite candy/color was for decorating purposes, but “peanut m&ms” and “green” weren’t exactly what I expected in return.

So, while there’s now perfect-sized pans and box mixes that would’ve made this recipe way easier, there’s something to be said about the satisfaction that comes from imperfect checkerboard patterns and from-scratch cakes. Recipe and pictures after the jump.


2 1/4c cake flour (not self-rising)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3/4c + 1 tbs milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2c sugar

3/4c butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)

3 eggs

2 oz semisweet chocolate

1 oz unsweetened chocolate

…seems like a lot of ingredients, I know, but if you take a closer look at them, most are ones you’ve already got lying around in the kitchen.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 3 8-inch round cake pans. Line bottom with wax paper. Grease and dust with flour. Stir together cake flour, baking powder and salt. In one cup, measure 3/4c milk and vanilla. At low speed, beat sugar and butter until blended. Increase speed to high, 5 min, until light and creamy. Reduce to medium-low, add eggs one at a time, beating well. Reduce to low, add flour mixture alternating with milk mixture. Beat just until smooth. Spoon 1/2 batter into medium bowl. With remaining batter, add melted chocolate and 1 tbs milk. Place each bowl of batter in a ziploc bag and cut a 1/2 inch corner. Pipe 1 1/2-in wide band chocolate into two pans, then vanilla, then a chocolate center. Pipe 1 1/2-in wide band vanilla into third pan, then chocolate, then a vanilla center. Stagger pans on two racks so pans are not directly above one another. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, 20 min; cool 10 min. Loosen layers, invert, remove waxed paper, cool completely. Frost each layer (alternating) with a frosting of your choice.

I probably left the cakes in a few minutes longer than I would if I made this recipe again and I think being a perfectionist of sorts, piping took a lot out of me (some of it drips, some will spread into the pan too quickly, I wasn’t sure if my “pipes” were thick/thin enough..), but B was so impressed it was worth it in the end. If you’re feeling ambitious, this recipe will surely do the trick.


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