Checkerboard Cakes

Checkerboard cakes

A bit of a retro feel with the cake itself but I was at least able to restrict myself to 2 distinct flavours/colours of sponge rather than go too over-the-top with loads of flavours and colours!

As with most of my cakes, I aim to have distinct flavours to accompany the colours: a coloured sponge that tastes just of plain cake, no matter how lovely the cake,  doesn’t tick the boxes for me: so a red cake has to taste of something fruity such as raspberry, strawberry, blackcurrant etc….

In this cake I have plumped for raspberry-flavoured sponge and lemon-flavoured sponge, using natural fruit powders, lemon zest and natural food colourings. A thin layer of sharp lemon buttercream covers the cake as well as sandwiching together the three layers.

While you can use checkerboard cake tins, I find that base-lining a tin with greaseproof and piping the mixture in concentric circles of different flavoured sponge – starting from the centre – gives a very good effect; as the mixture is not too runny there is no danger of the different mixtures bleeding into each other – see pictures below. For piping the mixtures I use disposable piping bags and cut off about an inch from the bottom.

Alternatively, you pour one flavour into a large cake tin and the other flavour into another tin. Once baked you can cut out and then re-assemble concentric rings of different flavoured cake as in the pictures below:

Decorate the cake in any way you want or leave the cake as it is, coated in a fruity buttercream; a simple exterior revealing a fun interior can be quite appealing, but with my love of zingy fruit flavours I also like to coat the cake in dried raspberry pieces.

Rather than have one large cake here, I have gone for two smaller 10cm cakes, for which you need six 10cm circular cake tins (or wide, shallow ramekins). These cakes each have 3 layers. You can bake in batches and re-use the tins with more of the cake mixture if you don’t have enough tins.

Alternatively you can make one large 9″ cake, using three 9″ cake tins. For a large cake, a 10-egg mixture will give good cake depth.

Checkerboard cakes

Cake (makes two 10cm cakes)

  • 3 eggs
  • 175g each: sifted self-raising flour, unsalted butter or margarine, caster sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons each of lemon powder and raspberry powder
  • a few drops each of natural yellow and red food colouring
  • grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon freeze-dried raspberry flakes


  • 100g softened unsalted butter
  • 200g sifted icing sugar
  • 2 teaspoons each of lemon or raspberry fruit powder – or vanilla extract

To finish:

  • dried raspberry flakes

You will also need six 10cm circular cake tins or ramekins, base-lined with greaseproof, and two piping bags

  1. Preheat oven to 160C (fan)
  2. Mix together the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and milk until combined – don’t over-work the mixture of the cake will not be light. Split into two portions.
  3. Add the lemon powder, zest and a little yellow food colouring to one portion and mix in gently. I like little more than a tinge of colour rather than a foray into the world of psychedelia but go for whatever depth of colour you want – although the colour does fade a little when baked. Put this mixture into a piping bag.

    Two mixtures ready to be piped

    Two mixtures ready to be piped

  4. Add the raspberry powder,  raspberry pieces and a little red food colouring to the other mixture and mix in gently. Put this mixture into another piping bag.
  5. Snip off the ends of each piping bag to give a hole of about an inch diameter. In the first tin, pipe concentric circles of alternate colours eg) red in centre, then surrounded by yellow then surrounded by red. I go for 3 thick rings but there are few limits here! (cake 1)
  6. In the second tin, pipe the other way round ie) start with yellow in the centre (cake 2)
  7. If going for three layers, in a third tin, pipe the same way as the first tin (cake 3)
  8. Level off the mixture carefully and bake in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes until well risen, just pulling away from the sides and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Turn onto cooking rack and leave to cool fully.
  9. Peel off the greaseproof and place cake 1 on a board. Add buttercream to the top and smooth. Place cake 2 on top of this, with a layer of buttercream on top, followed by cake 3 (if having 3 layers). Cover the top and the sizes with buttercream, and a light sprinkling of raspberry flakes. Or go to town and coat the cakes in raspberry flakes…….

One comment

  1. VERY impressive cakes. You could sell these


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