Marble Cake is a moist and dense layered cake made with vanilla cake batter, chocolate cake batter, and -here is my secret for the most amazing flavor- chocolate ganache all swirled together for a marbled effect. It’s the perfect base for your favorite frosting, but I highly recommend Chocolate Ermine! If you love the flavor combination, I also have a Marble Sheet Cake you will love!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Melted Chocolate: The first step in making this cake is to melt milk chocolate and set it aside to cool. This will be added to the chocolate cake batter.
Vanilla Cake Batter: For the best results, make sure the ingredients used are at room temperature, specifically the butter, eggs, milk, and sour cream. If you are out of eggs, try one of these egg substitutes.
Milk: Use whole milk or milk with a higher fat content for the best results. Using lower-fat milk may result in a cake that is a drier or less rich texture.
Sour Cream: Adding sour cream to the cake batter keeps the cake moist, even after being baked. It also gives the cake a denser texture.
Cake Flour: It is important to use cake flour in this recipe. Using all-purpose flour will yield different results. I do have a homemade cake flour recipe that you could use if you don’t have any on hand.
Cocoa Powder: I used regular unsweetened cocoa powder in the chocolate cake batter. I have not tested the cake with Dutch-processed cocoa powder, so I cannot speak to its overall effectiveness in the cake.
Ganache: For even more chocolate flavor, chocolate ganache made with semi-sweet chocolate is swirled into the cake batter.
What Type of Frosting is Best For Marble Cake?
When it comes to choosing a frosting for a marble cake, there are a variety of options to consider. I used my Chocolate Ermine Frosting for this cake. My Chocolate Buttercream Frosting would also be a winner! But, chocolate is not the only option. Try marble cake topped with Vanilla Buttercream or even a cream cheese frosting, which you can find in my Homemade Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.
Can I Use a Different Pan?
Yes, if you do not have 2, 8-inch round cake pans, you could make this cake in 9-inch round pans, too. In addition, you could also make this cake in a bundt pan or springform pan. Keep in mind that baking times may vary depending on the type of pan you use, so be sure to check the cake frequently to avoid over or under-baking.
How to Store Frosted Marble Cake
Once frosted and assembled, marble cake can be stored at room temperature, and covered, for a few hours up to a couple of days. The length of time a frosted cake can sit out at room temperature does depend on the type of frosting you are using. After that, store the cake in the refrigerator for up to a week. For even longer storage, freeze the cake unfrosted, if possible.
How to Freeze a Baked Cake
Freezing baked cakes is a wonderful way to get a dessert made in advance. To freeze the unfrosted cake, first, let the cake cool completely. Next, wrap the cake rounds in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminum foil. Label and date the packaging; the cake will last up to 2-3 months in the freezer. When ready to frost the cake, let the cake thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- 1 ounce milk chocolate, melted, set aside to cool slightly
Vanilla Cake Batter
- 1 cup (2 sticks / 227 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup (122.5 g) whole milk, room temperature
- ½ cup (115 g) sour cream, room temperature
- 2 cups (250 g) cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Chocolate Cake Batter
- 3 tablespoons regular unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2, 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a microwave-safe bowl, add milk chocolate. Melt in 30-second increments, stirring after each interval, until all chunks are fully melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
Vanilla Cake Batter
- In a large bowl with a hand-held mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer) mix together the butter and granulated sugar on high until fluffy.
- Add in eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined.
- Add in the room temperature milk and sour cream, mixing until fully combined.
- Add cake flour, baking powder, and salt to the batter and mix until JUST combined. There should be no lumps and the batter will be on the thicker side, like pancake batter.
Chocolate Cake Batter
- In a separate bowl, add one cup of vanilla cake batter. To that, add 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder, ½ teaspoon of baking soda, and the 1 ounce of the slightly cooled milk chocolate that was melted in the beginning.
- Stir well. (The chocolate batter will be very thick.)
- In a small microwave-safe bowl, add the 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate and heavy whipping cream.
- Heat for 1 minute in the microwave and then stir for about a minute. The mixture should come together and be thicker and glossier when done.
- Scoop dollops of white cake in the prepared pan. (I like to alternate between pans to make sure I get an even amount in both.)
- Next, scoop dollops of the chocolate cake batter into each pan (depending on the size of your scoop it is about 4-5 dollops per pan) with the vanilla batter.
- Equally distribute the ganache in each pan, over the cake batter.
- Using a kitchen knife, swirl the cake batters and ganache together.
- Bake for 26-28 minutes, or until when the cakes are pressed, the center of the cakes bounces back. In addition, an inserted toothpick should come out with a few crumbs but no wet batter.
- Let the cakes cool on a wire rack before removing them from the pans to cool completely.
- Once cool, layer and top with your favorite frosting.
Did you make this recipe?
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Recipe updated March 2023.