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4.64 from 11 votes

Checkerboard Cake

Make this fun checkerboard cake with a chocolate and vanilla cake. Frost with chocolate buttercream frosting for a showstopping dessert!
Prep Time1 hr 15 mins
Cook Time1 hr 10 mins
Total Time2 hrs 25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 821kcal

Ingredients

For the chocolate cake:

  • 2 ¼ cups (270 g) all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ¾ cup (63 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1 cup (213 g) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup (198 g) granulated white sugar
  • 3 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 mL) buttermilk
  • 1 cup (240 mL) boiling water

For the vanilla cake:

  • 3 ¼ cups (390 g) cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick, 113 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup (120 mL) vegetable oil
  • 2 cups (396 g) granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups (360 mL) buttermilk

For the chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • 2 1/2 cups (5 sticks, 566 g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 5 cups (568 g) confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups (84 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt

Instructions

For the chocolate cake:

  • Preheat and prepare pan. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
  • Combine dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt.
  • Combine wet ingredients. In a second mixing bowl, whisk oil, sugars, eggs, vanilla extract, and buttermilk until smooth and combined.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients. Pour wet mixture into flour mixture and whisk to combine. Add boiling water and stir to combine.
  • Bake. Bake 30-35 minutes for 9” layers. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.

For the vanilla cake:

  • Preheat and prepare pan. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.. Set aside.
  • Combine dry ingredients. In a mixing bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Cream butter and sugar. In a second mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter, oil and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add eggs and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition. Add vanilla extract.
  • Alternate dry ingredients with buttermilk. Alternate adding the flour mixture with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  • Bake. Bake 30-35 minutes for 9” layers. The cake is done when it's golden brown around the edges and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.

For the chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • Mix butter and sugar. Combine the butter and confectioners sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix on low speed at first, then increase the speed to medium until combined.
  • Stir in cocoa powder. With mixer off, add cocoa powder. Mix on low speed until combined.
  • Add heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Add in your heavy cream, vanilla extract and salt, and mix on medium to high speed for 7-8 minutes until light and creamy. If not using immediately, store in a container in the refrigerator until ready to use, mix again until light and fluffy.

Assemble The Cake

  • Place one chocolate 9-inch outline of cake onto a serving plate or cake stand. Fill with a vanilla 6-inch circle, then a 3" chocolate circle. Spread frosting evenly on top. Repeat with next layer: 9-inch vanilla filled with 6-inch chocolate then 3-inch vanilla circle Spread frosting evenly on top. Repeat next 2 layers. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. 
  • Refrigerate the cake for one hour before cutting. This ensures a neater cut.
  • Cover leftovers at room temperature for up to 2 days, or up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Notes

  • Tools to make this cake6-inch round cutter | 3-inch round cutter |cake tester | cake strips | cake pans |Baker's Joy| parchment paper - or parchment circles | cooling rack | electric mixer | kitchen scale
  • Measure if you want perfect circles. You should measure about 1.5" in from the edge for the first 6" cutter (the largest circle). And then another 1.5" in from that circle for the 3". Yes it's math. Or you can eyeball like I did and then be mad later. Up to you. 
  • Careful moving that cake! There were a couple times my cake circles broke because I was moving it a bit too aggressively. If this happens, just remember frosting covers up all those mistakes so don't fret and keep on going. 
  • Alternate the layers. You want a cake that has the outer circles alternating - so vanilla, chocolate, and so on. 
  • Don't make this all in one day. I mean ok, you can. But frankly I think that's a lot of work. Split up the tasks of making two different cakes, plus frosting, and then assembling. I'll give you my timeline I used below. 
  • Make a lot of frosting! This is a big cake so make a lot of frosting. I like making TWO batches of buttercream frosting. If you like to add lots of embellishments and a lot of frosting between layers, then making three isn't the worst idea. You can always store the leftover buttercream and freeze it. 
  • Refrigerate before cutting. You will get a neater cut if you refrigerate the cake for an hour before cutting. 

Nutrition

Calories: 821kcal | Carbohydrates: 104g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 138mg | Sodium: 379mg | Potassium: 334mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 72g | Vitamin A: 1028IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 107mg | Iron: 3mg