This scratch marble layer cake is actually moist and it makes the perfect birthday cake. This recipe uses simple ingredients and it doesn’t skimp on the chocolate like some marble cakes do. When you can’t make up your mind whether you want chocolate or vanilla cake…have both!
Hey there! Before you scroll, there’s lot’s of important stuff in the post!…including the FAQ section, which may answer any questions you might have about this recipe. Enjoy!
Almost every single year, my son would ask for a marble cake for his birthday. I think it was really because he couldn’t decide if he wanted chocolate or vanilla, so he just figured he’d get the best of both worlds.
That’s kind of what I think about marble cake. Depending on how much you marble it, you can get mostly vanilla in one bite, or mostly chocolate.
This one has a bit more chocolate batter in it than the average marble cake and that’s because I find that in other marble cakes, you just don’t get much chocolate flavor.
If you prefer less chocolate, you can always lower the amount of batter you add the chocolate to…that will be just fine. You can also just not marble it as much.
Let’s look at some of the ingredients in this marble:
All purpose flour: You’ll just use regular ol’ all purpose flour in this cake, so there’s no need to go out and get cake flour.
Unsalted butter: Just make sure you’re using unsalted and not salted butter.
Sour cream: If you’ve been around my blog for any length of time, you’ll know I love sour cream in cakes. It just gives them a great texture and adds moisture.
Cocoa Powder: You’re only going to use a small amount here, so the type probably doesn’t matter. I used Natural Unsweetened Hershey’s Cocoa Powder.
Double Chocolate Buttercream: You’re going to want to cover this cake in a delicious layer of buttercream and I’ve got ya covered with that one. I really like this cake with my Double Chocolate Buttercream.
Mixing method for this cake:
The mixing method for this cake is the regular creaming method. I wanted a lighter crumb and I wanted this cake to be a bit fluffier, so I went with the creaming method instead of the reverse creaming method.
So, essentially you’ll be whipping up the sugar and butter together really well (for a couple minutes) and incorporating as much air as you can. Then you’ll add in the eggs one at a time, then you’ll alternately add in the dry and liquid ingreients.
Now, since there is more mixing involved in this mixing method, you’ll want to make sure only to mix until the ingredients are combined. Try really hard not to over-mix or you’ll get a dense cake.
Tips & FAQs for the scratch marble cake:
Don’t microwave it though…that heats it unevenly and it can even melt parts of it. Just cut your butter into chunks and set it out onto the counter for about an hour or so.
If you can get your eggs to come closer to room temperature, they will mix in better.
You definitely don’t want to leave it out, but you can use yogurt in place of it if you need to. Use the full fat yogurt though and not the light kind.
Reduced fat sour cream isn’t going to work as well.
Be careful adjusting ingredients in cake recipes because it could throw off the ratios. Sugar doesn’t only add sweetness, but it also helps add moisture to the cake. You could perhaps lower it by ¼ to ⅓, but I would not try lowering more than by that amount, or it could affect the texture and moisture of the cake.
You want to incorporate as much air as possible in this step and you want the mixture to be nice and fluffy.
Mix only until the ingredients are combined well. Don’t mix the cake batter for several minutes, that’s too long. You’ll only mix that long when you’re beating the butter and sugar only. Mixing scratch cake batter too long will cause the cake to either not rise properly, or have a weird texture to it.
This helps all the ingredients to emulsify (blend) better. It helps the batter to not curdle on you.
If you want only a small amount of chocolate swirl, just make sure to mix it less. For more chocolate swirl, mix it more.
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Supplies used for this cake:
- White mixing bowl set
- Rubber spatulas
- Hand mixer
- 8″ round cake pans
- Cooling racks
- Medium icing spatula
Ok now let’s get to the recipe! Don’t forget to check out the video as well!
**By the way, this recipe was developed and tested using volume measurements (cups etc.). I do this because most people are used to measuring, instead of weighing. You may use the metric converter button to see the weight (gram) measurements. Those numbers are estimates on weight. Your results may vary a bit if you use the weight measurements.
Scratch Marble Layer Cake
- 2 ⅔ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter – room temp (2 sticks)
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs – room temp
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil (or canola oil)
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup milk (use whole milk if you can get it)
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste if you can get it)
- ⅓ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 3-4 tablespoon milk (use whole milk if you can get it)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease and flour two, 8 inch round cake pans and set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk well and set aside.
- In another bowl, add the oil, sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Whisk well and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the room temperature butter and the sugar and mix on medium and then on medium high for several minutes until light and fluffy.
- Add in the eggs one at a time and mix on medium just until combined after each. Only mix until the egg is just incorporated. Try not to over mix. It’s best if your eggs are room temperature, but if they’re cold, your batter may look a little curdled at this point.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again on medium, just until everything is incorporated.
- Alternately add in the flour mixture and the liquid mixture. Starting and ending with the flour mixture. (Add in ⅓ of the flour mixture and mix on medium just until combined. Add in ½ the liquid mixture, mixing only until combined. Add in another ⅓ of the flour mixture, mixing only until combined. Add in the last of the liquid mixture, mixing only until combined, then the last of the flour mixture and mix until combined.)
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again only for 5-7 seconds or so. You only want to mix until well combined. Mixing for several minutes is too long for a scratch cake. The batter will be thick.
- Add about 1 to 1 ½ cups of the batter into a small mixing bowl. (If you want less chocolate swirl, use 1 cup, if you want more chocolate swirl use 1 ½ cups)
- To that batter, add the cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon oil and the 3 tablespoons of milk and mix well with a spoon or rubber spatula. If the batter is very stiff, mix in another tablespoon of milk.
- Add the chocolate batter back into the vanilla batter by tablespoonfuls. Then swirl the batter in the bowl with a spoon or rubber spatula. Just marble the batter, don’t mix it completely.
- Spread into two prepared 8″ round cake pans. (The batter will be thick.)
- Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 40-45 minutes. Insert a toothpick somewhere in the middle and a few moist crumbs should stick to the toothpick.
- Cool on a wire rack, in the pans, for about 10 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto the rack and allow them to cool completely before freezing the layers, or covering in buttercream.
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