Checkerboard cake is often made with yellow cake and chocolate cake, which makes for a striking contrast. I wanted to try something different this time, I had something more colorful in mind. With Easter right around the corner, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to make a pastel checkerboard cake! You can even use the remaining batter from this recipe to make some of these adorable Easter Bunny Cupcakes!
Checkerboard Cake for Easter
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’m not kidding, using the shortening made the frosting taste amazing and super smooth!)
Checkerboard Cake Baking Tips:
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 – This is a double batch cake, 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. It was fine in my KitchenAid but the bowl was definitely full. I wanted to give you a head’s up.
4) I used liquid 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!
Ingredients for Checkerboard 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
Helpful Kitchen Tools
YOU CAN FIND THE PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE AT THE END OF THIS POST
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans (these come in the Checkerboard Pan Set) and line the bottom of each with a round parchment or wax paper. Place the checkerboard cake insert into one of the pans and set aside.
Directions for the Cake:
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg whites.
- Put the sugar and lemon zest into your mixer’s 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 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 well 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.)
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, this tutorial will show you how to make a checkerboard cake without it.
Instructions for the frosting are in the printer friendly version of the recipe below.
Didn’t it turn out beautifully? The end result is worth every second you’ll spend on this recipe! It’s definitely one that people will be impressed by, I hope you have a blast making this Checkerboard Cake!
Looking for more delicious Easter treats?
- Don’t miss these adorable Rice Krispie Nests.
- Here’s a Carrot Cake Trifle that’s perfect for Easter dessert.
- We have too many to list here, so be sure to check out all of our Easter recipe ideas!
This post was originally published on March 23, 2010