Checkerboard cake is often made with yellow cake and chocolate cake, which makes for a striking contrast. From the moment that I saw my friend Sue’s Green Velvet Checkerboard Cake, I knew I wanted to make one. With Easter right around the corner, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to make a pastel checkerboard cake!
I actually adapted Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for Perfect Party Cake to make this colorful treat. I also used (gasp) a white frosting that uses shortening instead of butter. It’s actually a delicious frosting, but if you can’t get past the shortening, you can alway use your favorite white icing or buttercream frosting. I used paste food coloring to tint the batters and frosting, and a checkerboard baking set to create the cake. However, if you don’t want to buy a pan, Megan shows you how to make a checkerboard cake without it.
1) I made one batch of cake batter and came up a little short. So I made another batch and poured the leftover batter into a 9″ square pan and made a square cake. I even swirled the different colors to make a marble cake! You could make cupcakes out of the rest if you like. The instructions below WILL leave you with leftover batter.
2) You can use any white cake recipe that you want, particularly if you have a favorite.
3) Important – Because this is a double batch, you might want to split the cake recipe in half and do it in two batches, as it might be too much for the mixer. Because of that, I am including the ingredient list for ONE batch at the end so you do not have to do the calculations.
4) I used measuring cups to distribute the colored batter because the pour spouts made it a bit easier. I have also seen people use decorator bags.
5) Save the egg yolks for making ice cream!
Checkerboard Cake for Easter
adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake
4 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
8 large egg whites
3 cups sugar
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
1 cup vegetable shortening (not butter flavored)
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
4 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons clear vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 9 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Place the checkerboard cake insert into one of the pans and set aside.
For the Cake:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter, and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and will aerated.
Separate the batter evenly into three separate bowls. To add paste food coloring, take a small amount (smaller than a pea, it doesn’t take much!) and whisk it into the white batter. Repeat for the other two batches. I used pink, purple, and green.
Starting with the pan that has the checkerboard insert, fill the center hole halfway with pink batter. Fill the center ring halfway with green and the outer ring halfway with purple. Carefully loosen the insert’s “legs” from the side of the pan and lift the insert straight up into the air. Rinse and dry the insert and place it into the next pan.
In keeping with your pattern flow (pink, green, purple, etc) fill the center hole halfway with green, the second ring with purple, and the outer ring with pink. For the last pan, continuing the pattern, purple in the center, then pink, then green.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, checking after 25, or until the cakes are springy to the touch- a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
To Make the Frosting:
Beat shortening and extracts until creamy, about 1-2 minutes on medium speed. Slowly add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, then 2 tablespoons of milk, 2 more cups of powdered sugar, then the remaining milk and any additional powdered sugar that may be needed.
Put 1/3 of the frosting into a separate bowl and tint it with a small amount of yellow paste food coloring. Frost in between the layers yellow and the sides and top of cake white. Decorate with green tinted coconut and jelly beans on top.
INGREDIENTS FOR ONE BATCH OF CAKE
(if you would like to make it in two separate batches)
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
check out Tidy Mom for more great ideas!