This article is about how to make a perfect marble cake.

I started to take up baking about ten years ago, and particularly like the rich flavor and tender texture of butter. This marble cake recipe is adapted from my butter cake recipe, which is the top-selling cake in my cafe.

Since I also like chocolate, this marble cake has a rich chocolate taste and yet not overshadowing the butter flavor.

What is marble cake? A marble cake is butter cake with mottled with chocolate or with streaks of chocolate. It is usually made with cake batter and a chocolate batter.

Easy marble cake recipe. It is a pound cake recipe with chocolate streaks, soft, tender, moist. You don’t need a marble cake mix, just make from scratch!

I will explain to you how do I make my version of marble cake in this recipe. The process is similar to my butter cake recipe, except the additional part to prepare the chocolate batter. You can call this recipe a chocolate pound cake. 

You can get read my in-depth discussion on how to make the best butter cake article on this blog, which is divide into two parts. Part one discusses the choice of ingredients and technique, and part two is the detail explanation of the entire preparation and baking process.

Let’s get into the details right away.

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How to make the best marble cake

1. Prepare the marble cake batter by using the creaming method

Use the best quality butter

It is vital to use good quality butter because it contributes most flavor in the recipe. I prefer to use unsalted butter because I can control the saltiness. In general, the amount of salt in the salted butter is about one percent, which means if you have a block of butter weighed 250g, it will contain about 2.5g or half teaspoon of salt. Omit the salt in this recipe if you use salted butter.

Make sure the butter is soft before starting the mixing process

I suggest you start making the cake by cutting the cold butter into cubes and keep them into the mixing bowl. You need to wait until the butter is soft enough before creaming it with the sugar. Hard butter does not cream well with sugar and will not trap enough air to raise the cake during baking. That is why we cut and place the butter in the mixing bowl of our restaurant a day before so that we can start work immediately the next morning. Our staff does not need to wait for it to soften, which may take about an hour due to the large volume.

Add the sugar to the butter and start mixing once the butter is softened. Soft butter combines well with sugar to form a homogenous buttercream like mixture. The mixing action traps air in the mix, which will eventually expand in the oven and leaven the cake. 

The cake will rise higher if more air is trapped, and yields a softer and fluffy texture. This process depends on a few factors:

  • The softness of the butter. The softer the butter, the easier air will be trapped in the butter-sugar mixture.
  • The best kind of sugar is castor sugar because of its small granule size. You could also use granulated sugar, but it takes a longer time to cream the butter and sugar together since its granule size is bigger. 
  • The speed of mixing. Use medium to high speed to mix the butter and sugar yields a smoother and lighter buttercream.
  • Type of mixer attachment. The wire whisk attachment of the mixer is more efficient than the blade attachment to create volume.

How long should I mix the butter and sugar? 

The mixing time required depends on the four factors as above, and hence it is not possible to recommend a fixed duration. It is more practical to decide when to stop mixing by looking at the appearance of the buttercream. Stop mixing when:

  • The color of the butter turns from the initial bright to light yellow.
  • It looks like soft ice cream.
  • There is no more visible sugar granule in the mixture.

Note: If you are unsure whether you should stop mixing, just continue to mix it longer. There is no such thing as overmixing. No worry!

When to add eggs and milk?

Add the milk and eggs only after the butter and sugar has turned into a smooth buttercream. 

I pour ALL the eggs into the buttercream mixture while letting the mixer blade spinning at high speed when I make cakes in my restaurant. However, I am a bit skeptical about doing so when I use a small handheld mixer at home. You will notice I add half of the egg in the video, then followed by the remaining eggs. It is only my mental block, and I firmly believe that it will not make any difference to the result.

After you have added the eggs, it will look curdy initially. This appearance is common, and the mixture will eventually become smoother.

Once the eggs have thoroughly mixed with the butter and sugar, add the milk and continue mixing at medium to high speed until it becomes a smooth batter.  

Again, the mixture will not be overmixed. If you are unsure, just mix it longer.

What type of flour is suitable for the cake? 

Let me explain the flour, baking powder, and salt before we proceed to the next step. 

Flour

The cake is tender and moist if you use flour with lower protein content. This type of flour is usually labeled as cake flour. Avoid using flour that is with a high percentage of protein, which is called high protein flour or bread flour. The lower the protein content, the softer the cake will turn out.

Baking powder

This cake has a high amount of butter and will raise quite well even without the addition of baking powder. However, since the chocolate batter is denser and harder to raise without baking powder, I have added two percent to the recipe. (Note: In this recipe, it is 300g of flour times 2 percent that is 6g of baking powder.)

You have to omit the baking powder in the recipe if you are using self-raising flour. Please check the ingredient printed on the box to check how much baking powder is included in the self-raising flour. In all cases, the amount of baking powder in the self-raising flour should be sufficient for this recipe.

Salt

As I mentioned earlier, omit the salt in the recipe if you are using salted butter. I use unsalted butter because I bake more often, and besides, I can control the amount of salt I need. 

Why is there no vanilla essence in the recipe?

You may wonder why I do not use vanilla essence as most other cake recipes do. 

The main reason is I can’t get a good quality vanilla essence at where I live. Most of the ‘essence’ I found in the supermarket are artificial agents, which I think will do more harm than enhancing the flavor.

Secondly, it is not necessary to use it after all, with the use of good quality butter and chocolate. 

Combine the flour with the batter

The most significant difference in mixing the butter, sugar, eggs, and milk, versus the inclusion of flour, is the mixing time. 

As I mentioned earlier, there is no harm to mix it longer than required, but not after adding the flour. 

Why? 

The flour will react with the water in the batter and start to form gluten. Gluten is an elastic protein chain, just like rubber bands. The longer and vigorous the mixing action, the more gluten will form, and the batter will become more rubbery. In other words, the cake will become more stretchy and lose its soft and tender texture.

Therefore, the endpoint of mixing in the flour is when the flour is completely assimilated into the mixture, with no more visible specks of flour, and becomes a smooth batter. Once you get that texture, stop mixing.

Here is the image of how it looks like:

The ideal texture of the batter for themarble cake.
The ideal texture of the batter for the marble cake.

I add all the flour to the mixture when I use the high power commercial mixer attached with a large wire whisk. You may want to add the flour in stages if you use a small mixing bowl. I find that wire whisk works better than a spatula and the blade attachment of the mixer.

Note: The above method of preparing the batter is nearly identical to my butter cake recipe. I also make banana cakes and orange cakes with a similar creaming technique. There is an in-depth discussion on this topic in this butter cake article for more details.

2. Preparing the chocolate batter for the marble cake

The best ratio between the butter and chocolate batter

The following part of this article is more specific for the marble cake.

I prefer to use one-third of the cake batter to mix with the chocolate to form the chocolate batter. You can use half of the batter if you want more chocolate present in the marble cake.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place it in a large mixing bowl. Heat the chocolate over a pot of boiling water until it is nearly all melted. Remove from heat and keep stirring until the remaining chocolate is completely melted.

Once the chocolate is cold, add one-third of the cake batter to the chocolate and mix it until homogenous. 

It is less messy to transfer the batter to the chocolate than pouring the melted chocolate into the cake batter!

Should I use chocolate or cocoa powder for making marble cake?

You can also use a good quality cocoa powder instead of melted chocolate. However, you need less cocoa powder than chocolate as it has a stronger flavor. I suggest substituting every thirty grams of chocolate with one tablespoonful of cocoa powder plus one tablespoon of milk. The additional milk is required because the cocoa powder will make the cake dryer.

3. Preparing the cake pan

I prefer to use a cake pan with a detachable base or a springform pan because it is easier to unmold the cake. Add a few drops of oil to the base before placing a baking paper on it so that the paper will stick to the bottom.

There is no need to line the side of the cake pan with baking paper because the cake will not stick to it. This cake is rich in butter and will slip out from the mold easily.

4. Creating the marble pattern of the cake

You can create different designs by changing the method of adding the batter into the cake pan.

To create the zebra-like stripes. Add a scoop of butter batter to the center of the base, followed by a smaller scoop of chocolate batter. Continue stacking up the batter one on top of the other to form multiple layers with alternate colors. The batter will flow slowly to the side and fill the pan, and the layers will expand to the edge. When you finish adding all the batters, tap the cake several times to smoothen the surface. Then use a wooden skewer or toothpick to draw some line starting from the center to the side. (Please refer to the video in this article.)

To form a patchy pattern, like a black and white cow.  Scoop a large portion of the butter and chocolate batters alternatively and randomly into the cake pan.

5. Temperature and timing for baking the marble cake

Bake the marble cake in the preheated oven, middle rack at 175°C/350°F for about 50 minutes, or until the cake achieves the desired color.

The temperature in this recipe is for reference only since there are no two ovens behaved precisely the same. The temperature indicated by the oven may not be accurate in some cases. Furthermore, the position of the heating elements can affect the temperature in the oven. 

I would suggest baking the cake for at least fifty minutes until the inner part of the cake is thoroughly cooked. If the cake starts to turn color at the thirty minutes point, you may want to reduce the temperature.

How to prevent cracks of the marble cake at where the butter and chocolate batter meet?

The consistency of both batters is not identical because one of them contains chocolate. As such, they will behave slightly differently and may not rise at the same speed. Therefore, the marble cake tends to crack more often than a pure butter cake.  

The trick is to bake at a lower temperature. If cracks happen, you can try to bake it at 170°C/335°F for your next cake. 

The crack will usually happen in the last ten minutes of baking. You can minimize the problem by setting your alarm clock at 40 minutes and observe the doneness of the cake. If the cake forms a dome too early, lower the top temperature by 15°C can minimize the formation of cracks.

6. Unmold the cake

To unmold the cake, place a cake board on top of the cake, and flip it upended. The cake will slide out from the mold. Remove the base of the cake mold and the baking paper. Place another cake board on the cake base and flip over again.

Now you can cut it into wedges to serve.

7. How long can I keep the marble cake?

This marble cake can be kept at room temperature (summer/tropical weather) for a day. You can extend the shelflife to 3-4 days by keeping it in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator. You also double wrap with two plastic bags and keep in the freezer. The quality is as good as the newly baked cake for up to two weeks. Leave the frozen cake at room temperature overnight before consuming it.

Yield: 8 large wedges

Marble Cake

Marble cake thumbnail

Easy marble cake recipe. It is a pound cake recipe with chocolate streaks, soft, tender, moist. You don’t need a marble cake mix, just make from scratch!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place the softened butter in the bowl. Add the caster sugar and combine well.Marble cake - butter and sugar
  2. Add the eggs gradually into the butter-sugar mixture. Add the milk. Continue beating until it becomes homogeneous.Marble cake - add egg
  3. Sieve the cake flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Combine well. Add the flour mix to the batter. Mix it until it becomes a smooth, creamy texture. Marble cake - smooth texture
  4. Melt the chocolate over a pot of hot water, then combine the chocolate with the 1/3 of the batter.Marble cake - chocolate batter
  5. Line the cake pan with baking paper. Place the yellow batter and the chocolate batter alternatively to the center of the pan.  Marble cake - add batter alternatively
  6. Tap the cake pan a few times to smooth out the batter. Use a bamboo skewer to draw some lines to create the pattern. Marble cake - draw pattern
  7. Bake at 175 °C/350°F for 50 to 60 minutes.Marble cake - baking
  8. Remove it from the cake pan. Cut into wedges and serve.Marble cake - unmold

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 639Total Fat: 40gSaturated Fat: 24gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 231mgSodium: 542mgCarbohydrates: 61gFiber: 1gSugar: 30gProtein: 9g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 4/7/2020

    33 replies to "Marble Cake – How to make from scratch"

    • KP Kwan

      Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am pleased to reply to any questions and comments as soon as possible.

    • Jen

      Hi I was wondering if the flour is self raising flour! If so do you still need to add baking powder I live in Australia and usually make cakes with self raising flour thankyou Jen

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Jen,
        I use regular plain flour in the recipe. You need to omit the baking powder in the recipe if you use self-raising flour as it is a mixture of plain flour with baking powder.
        KP Kwan

    • Roseline

      Hi, I would like know whether I can make half the portion of this cake? Thanks.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Roseline,
        You can make half the portion. The cake pan I use is a round pan, which is 8-inches in diameter. You need to use a small pan and reduce the baking time.
        KP Kwan

    • Sharon Cheong

      Hi, the ingredients is for what size of the baking pan ?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Sharon,
        I use a round cake tin with eight inches in diameter.
        Thanks.
        KP Kwan

    • Wai Yee

      Hi Mr Kwan,
      May I use Cadbury chocolate milk bar for this recipe? If so, do I need to reduce the sugar as the chocolate is sweet?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Wai Yee,
        You do not need to reduce the sugar because the chocolate I used was sweet too.
        KP Kwan

    • Chan Huey Ling

      Hi Mr Kwan, good afternoon. I tried your recipe this morning. Very good texture, delicious. This is first time I made cake. Considered successful for me. I thought I can’t do this. Only problem is the surface of the cake, cracked at last 7 minutes , hahaha. Will try again.
      Anyway, thank you very much.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Chan,
        Thanks for trying the recipe. Cracking at the last ten minutes is common. Try to lower the temperature at the final ten minutes, especially the upper heat, to prevent cracking.
        KP Kwan

    • D

      Hi, can I used sour cream instead of milk?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi D,
        I have never try to use sour cream to replace the milk and therefore do not want to give you untested suggestions. In theory, it should be OK.
        KP Kwan

    • Eileen

      Hi Mr Kwan,
      Thanks for sharing, can I use plain flour instead, don’t have cake flour at home. Do I need to do any adjustment in your recipe. Thanks

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Eileen,
        Please use plain flour and proceed. It will be the same. Enjoy baking 🙂
        KP Kwan

    • Katerin

      Hi Mr,
      Can I use half of the recipe to make smaller size cake?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Katerin,
        You can do that, but the baking should be shorter.
        KP Kwan

    • Katerin

      Hai Mr, when I use half of the recipe ingredients, you mention above that need to reduce the baking time. How long will be the baking time for half recipe?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Katerin,
        It all depends on how small the cake is. If you reduce it by half, I will take a look at it at 35 to 40 minutes, then stop baking when it is fully raised and golden brown. It does take a bit guesswork and visual inspection, as it all depends on the size of the cake.
        KP Kwan

    • Maia

      Hi Mr Kwan,

      What type of milk do you used? Can I used condensed milk or evaporated full cream milk?

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Maia,
        I use the packet UHT full cream milk. It should be OK to substitute with other types of milk and reduce the sugar for condensed milk as it is sweet.
        KP Kwan

    • Goodness

      In making a marble, do I need to separate the egg white from egg yellow, thanks

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Goodness,
        You do not need to separate the egg white from the yolk in this recipe.
        KP Kwan

    • Cin Sugiarto

      Hello Mr. Kwan,
      Thanks for the recipe, so far this is the most clear recipe and instructions I have found.
      I’ve been baking for the last couple months, and have tried a couple times for butter marble cakes, but I think it was still failed. I didn’t get the fluffy texture, it was bit dense, although the taste and the aroma was really good.

      I want to ask you about the oven temperature. You have put 175 degrees, is it for the temperature inside the oven (I have an Oven Thermometer) or is it the setting on the temperature knob? Because if I set the temperature knobs on the oven for 175 (top & bottom heat) then the temperature inside the oven will get to about 250 degrees.
      If I want to have 175 deg in the oven, I have to set 160 bottom and 130 top. Please help me, I really would appreciate your answer.

      I hope you understand what I am trying to ask you 🙂 because English is not my first language.

      Best Regards,
      Cin.

      • KP Kwan

        Hi Cin,
        Thank you for your question.
        The temperature of the oven is very tricky. The temperature I wrote in the recipe is the temperature set by using the temperature knob. I did not use a separate oven temperature to confirm the accuracy.
        I also have to bigger oven in my cafe, in which they are identical. However, when I tested the actual temperature inside the oven by using the oven thermometer, both ovens have a difference of about ten degrees! Therefore, I concluded that the temperature knob is never reliable.
        Base on this assumption, I suggest you do not rely on the temperature in my recipe as the most accurate one, but only as a guideline. My best suggestion is to observe what happens to the cake inside the oven, especially when it is about to cook through.
        Once the cake is raised sufficiently, reduced the temperature by ten degrees, and keep a close eye on it. If it keeps expanding (rising), then I suggest reducing the temperature a little more. Otherwise, the cake can crack because the yellow and chocolate part can separate easily.
        I know this is not the definite answer you are expected, but I hope it is useful to you.
        All the best in baking.
        KP Kwan

        • Cin Sugiarto

          Hi Mr Kwan, thanks a lot for your answer, it’s really helpful, I will try it soon, and I’ll share the result to you 🙂
          Have a nice baking day to you.
          Regards,
          Cin.

          • KP Kwan

            You are welcome 🙂

    • May

      Hi, I would like to try your recipe, it looks nice. I did try other recipes before but the cake turned out quite dense and dry when keep till next day. I prefer soft and moist texture. Can I use buttermilk or fresh milk in your recipe ?

      My oven is convection type (with fan), it cannot turn off the fan and without top and bottom heat. Some peoples in other blog suggested reduce 15-20 celcius if the recipe not stated the temperature used in convection oven. Did you have any experience on convection oven before ? Thanks!

      • KP Kwan

        Hi May,
        My best suggestion is to include an extra 10% of milk (any milk) to the recipe. It will make the cake moist and tender. If you want to keep it for a few days, wrap it with cling wrap or put in plastic bags (double layer) and keep it in the refrigerator. When you want to serve, remove it in advance and let it return to room temperature without removing the plastic bag. This method is what I use to keep the moisture in the cake.
        Best regards,
        KP Kwan

        • May

          Thanks for the advise! I just tried the recipe, halve the recipe and used cocoa powder, the cake turned out a bit dry but texture is good. I should try to use melted chocolate next time. Can I replace the milk with sour cream?

          • KP Kwan

            Hi May,
            It should be fine to replace the milk with sour cream. You need to add more milk as the cocoa powder is dry.
            Kp Kwan

            • May

              Hi Mr Kwan,
              I guessed I overcooked the cake. As I told you before I had convection oven that cannot turn off the fan. I tried to bake the cake at 150c at first but after 40mins the cake inside still raw. So I turned to 160c and baked for another 10mins, it finally well cooked. I will try to bake the cake in 160c for 35-40mins on next time. But the cake still tasted velvety smooth! Just why it has few big pocket inside the cake? I hope I able to make a perfect cake like you next time.

            • KP Kwan

              Hi May,
              Try this: Drop the cake a few times from a few inches high to the table before putting it into the oven. It helps to break the large bubbles.
              KP Kwan

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