Marble Cake

Tested & Perfected Recipes

This marble cake may look fancy, but its flavor is pure old-fashioned goodness.

With swirls of tender vanilla and fudgy chocolate cake, this marble looks fancy but tastes like pure old-fashioned goodness, and it appeals to kids and grown-ups alike. It’s essentially a marbled version of this award-winning Kentucky Butter Cake. Surprisingly, you don’t need two completely different batters to make marble cake. You simply take a third of the vanilla batter and mix it with melted chocolate and cocoa powder and voilà — that’s your chocolate batter! Be careful not to over-marble the batters or the flavors will get muddled; a few swirls around the pan with a knife will do the trick.

What You’ll Need To Make Marble Cake

marble cake ingredients

Most recipes for marble cake call solely for cocoa powder for the chocolate portion of the cake. I like to add real chocolate as well for a more intense, fudgy flavor; this makes the chocolate swirl portion of the cake taste almost like a brownie.

If you’d rather not buy a whole carton of buttermilk for this recipe, it’s easy to make your own. Simply add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a liquid measuring cup. Then add regular milk to the 1-cup line and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly curdled and thickened.

The Method

This butter cake is a “high-ratio” cake, which means that the weight of the sugar equals or exceeds the weight of the flour. Why does this matter? Instead of the more common “creaming” method (where the butter and sugar are beaten together before the eggs, flour, and liquid are added), high-ratio cakes can be made using the “high-ratio” or “quick-mix” method. This involves mixing all the dry ingredients with the butter and some of the liquid first, then adding the remaining liquid ingredients. This method is not only faster and easier than the traditional creaming method, but it also yields incredibly tender and fine-textured cakes.

How To Make Marble Cake

sugar, cocoa powder, and water in pan

In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the water. Bring to a simmer over high heat, whisking until smooth.

adding the chocolate pieces to the chocolate mixture

Off the heat, immediately add the chocolate; whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.

chocolate mixture

In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.

eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk in bowl

Whisk and set aside. (Note that the mixture will start to look curdled as it sits; that’s okay.)

whisked buttermilk and egg mixture

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and remaining 2 cups of sugar. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds to combine.

flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in mixer

Add the softened butter and half of the buttermilk mixture and mix on low speed until moistened but still a little crumbly, about 1 minute.

With the mixer running on low, gradually add the remaining buttermilk mixture until incorporated.

gradually adding the buttermilk mixtureIncrease the speed to medium and mix for three minutes, stopping once to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The batter should look pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again, making sure the batter is evenly mixed.

finished vanilla batterTransfer about 2-1/2 cups of the batter to a medium bowl and add the chocolate mixture.

vanilla and chocolate batters in bowl

Whisk until smooth — that’s your chocolate batter.

whisked chocolate batterSpoon half of the remaining vanilla batter into a greased Bundt pan.

first layer of vanilla batter in Bundt panPour the chocolate batter over top.

chocolate batter layer in Bundt panFinish by spooning the remaining vanilla batter over the chocolate (don’t worry about covering the chocolate layer completely).

last layer of vanilla batter over the chocolate batterUsing a butter knife, swirl the batters together with a zig-zag motion, going three times around the pan. It may not look like the batters are swirled; that’s okay. It’s important not to overswirl.

swirled batter in Bundt pan

Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the cake bakes, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, water, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute.

cake glazeSet the baked cake on a cooling rack. Using a skewer or toothpick, poke about 40 holes in the bottom of the still-hot cake, going about 3/4 of the way down. Spoon or brush half of the glaze evenly over the bottom of the cake. If the glaze starts to pool on the surface, poke more holes to help it absorb.

Leave the cake on the rack to cool for 30 minutes.

glazed marble cake resting on rack

Invert the cake onto a serving platter. Brush the remaining glaze evenly over the top and sides of the cake, letting it soak in as you go. (Go slowly so that the glaze gets absorbed.)

glazing top of marble cake

Let the cake sit for at least two hours before serving. Cut with a serrated knife.

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Marble Cake

This marble cake may look fancy, but its flavor is pure old-fashioned goodness.

Servings: One 10-in Bundt Cake
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 60 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes, plus a few hours to cool

Ingredients

For the Cake

  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder, such as Hershey's
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, best quality such as Ghirardelli, broken into 1-in pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

For the Glaze

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions

For the Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Spray a 10-in (12-cup) Bundt pan generously with nonstick cooking spray with flour, such as Baker's Joy or Pam with Flour.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the water. Bring to a simmer over high heat, whisking until smooth. Off the heat, immediately add the chocolate; whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside. (Note that the mixture will start to look curdled as it sits; that's okay.)
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining 2 cups of sugar. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. Add the softened butter and half of the buttermilk mixture and mix on low speed until moistened but still a little crumbly, about 1 minute. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the remaining buttermilk mixture until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and mix for three minutes, stopping once to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. The batter should look pale and creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again, making sure the batter is evenly mixed.
  5. Transfer about 2-1/2 cups of the batter to a medium bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.
  6. Spoon half of the remaining vanilla batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Pour the chocolate batter over top. Finish by spooning the remaining vanilla batter over the chocolate (don't worry about covering the chocolate layer completely). Using a butter knife, swirl the batters together with a zig-zag motion, going three times around the pan. It may not look like the batters are swirled; that's okay. It's important not to over-swirl.
  7. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. While the cake bakes, make the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, water, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute.
  9. Set the pan on a cooling rack. Using a skewer or toothpick, poke about 40 holes in the bottom of the still-hot cake, going about 3/4 of the way down. Spoon or brush half of the glaze evenly over the bottom of the cake. If the glaze starts to pool on the surface, poke more holes to help it absorb. Leave the cake on the rack to cool for 30 minutes.
  10. Invert the cake onto a serving platter. Brush the remaining glaze evenly over the top and sides of the cake, letting it soak in as you go. (Go slowly so that the glaze gets absorbed.) Let the cake sit for at least two hours before serving. Cut with a serrated knife.
  11. Make-Ahead Instructions: This cake keeps well for several days. Once cool, store in a cake dome (or cover with plastic wrap) at room temperature until ready to serve.
  12. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cake can be frozen for up to 3 months. After it is completely cooled, double-wrap it securely with aluminum foil or plastic freezer wrap, or place it in heavy-duty freezer bag. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (16 servings)
  • Calories: 443
  • Fat: 19 g
  • Saturated fat: 12 g
  • Carbohydrates: 66 g
  • Sugar: 45 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Sodium: 223 mg
  • Cholesterol: 87 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • I made this exact recipe, but used 62% dark Belgium chocolate chunks. The cake looked exactly as your picture and it tasted absolutely amazing!!! Thanks for this incredible recipe .

    • — Steve on February 27, 2021
    • Reply
  • Can this cake be used for a frosted/ decorated layer cake?

    • — Tiffany on February 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, to make a layer cake, two 9-inch round pans should work here. I’d bake them at 350°F for about 40 minutes. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 24, 2021
      • Reply
  • I cannot thank you enough for this amazing marble cake recipe! Marble cake is my husband’s and son’s favorite, and I have made many over the years. This recipe is the very best I have come across! I almost did not make the glaze, thinking that the cake smelled delicious enough without it, but after reading that it helps keep the cake moist, I decided to make it. I am so glad I did! It adds an unassuming, delicious, extra layer of goodness! It is something similar to a glazed donut. The cake is not that complicated and can be made with mostly pantry ingredients, with the exception of the buttermilk. This will become our new staple for birthday cakes! Thank you!!

    • — Kyleigh on February 21, 2021
    • Reply
  • How many recipes should I make to fill an 11 x 15” pan?

    • — Kim on February 21, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Kim, I’d guesstimate you’d need to multiply the recipe by 1.5. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on February 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi! I don’t really like it when desserts are too sweet so I was wondering before trying this recipe if I should add 2 cups of sugar instead of 2-1/2 cups. Thank you!

    • — Leo on February 13, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Leo, I think you could get away with that. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on February 13, 2021
      • Reply
      • It turned out amazing! I was just hoping for the vanilla flavours to be more pronounced.

        • — Leo on February 13, 2021
        • Reply
  • Very good marble cake recipe and I served it with chocolate ice cream. Very good

    • — Madiha on February 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was one of the best marble cakes I’ve ever made. The house smelled like heaven and the chocolate part with the vanilla cake is out of this world!

    • — Rabia Peerzada on February 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • I made this for the first time last night, for my boyfriend’s family dinner, and it got rave reviews from everyone! It was perfectly moist, flavorful and also beautiful. I used brown sugar for the glaze since I ran out of regular. Thank you for perfecting when sharing this amazing recipe!! I will be making it for years to come!

    • — Stephie on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
  • This cake is totally swoon worthy- it took me a few tries to get the marbling effect I like, but it is so yummy. I love using buttermilk, too. I do not use the syrup at the end- seems redundant.

    • — Doogus on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Absolutely wonderful! Every year I make a marble pound cake for my husband’s birthday. This year I chose this recipe. So glad I did. Perfection.

    • — Carol C Snyder on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This marble cake is yum yum YUM. It’s no wonder it is award-winning! There was a time when I lived in Spain and would walk to the little corner bakery every week and get a slice of their “bizcocho” marbled in the same way as this cake. I constantly think about and crave that little marbled slice of heaven, and now I’m finally able to re-create it and it takes me back. This cake is buttery and fits all times of the day: breakfast, tea time, or dessert. The best part of these recipes are the step-by-step photo guides. Thank you!

    • — Amanda on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Best cake ever! I’ve made it about 4 times over the past year and it just keeps getting better. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes!

    • — Ness on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • delicious! The only thing was that the chocolate part of the cake “separated” from the white part when I cut it. We had it toasted in the oven, with ice cream on top!

    • — Debra Kaul on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi, I have just made this cake and am about to take it out of the oven realized I have no sugar left for the glaze. I do have on hand icing sugar, brown sugar or maple syrup. Any recommendations for what best to sub into the glaze?

    • — Monique on January 23, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Monique, I’d go with the brown sugar. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • Can I skip the glaze part?

    • — Annie on January 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Annie, the glaze adds a lot of moisture to the cake, so I wouldn’t recommend omitting it – sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 18, 2021
      • Reply
      • Thank you for your reply. I will definitely try it.

        • — Annie Mathew on January 20, 2021
        • Reply
  • Say goodbye to bone dry, insipid marble cakes – this is by far the best I’ve ever had! I made the mistake of overswirling, so I would use a skewer instead of a butter knife to be extra careful, but otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • — Zaynah on January 12, 2021
    • Reply
  • This cake is outstanding…not too heavy, good crumb, and simply delicious. I didn’t have a bundt pan, and so made it in a 10 inch spring form pan, and it needed to bake a little longer, but it turned out beautifully. This is a keeper, and I am rarely this enthusiastic about cake.

    • — Joan W on January 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • if i use a 11×15 inch cake pan instead, will the cooking time still be 60-70 minutes?

    • — Ameya on December 23, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ameya, It’s hard to say. I would start checking at 40 minutes.

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hello! Can this recipe be made in a 1/2 sheet cake? it’s a 11 x 15 inch pan

    • — China Triggs on December 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi China, Yes, that should work.

      • — Jenn on December 18, 2020
      • Reply

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