This marble pound cake recipe is a gorgeous combination of plain vanilla cake and chocolate cake swirls in one cake. I call it a marble pound cake because it is adapted from my pound cake recipe. To complete the cake, I frosted it with matching marbled buttercream in simple vanilla and chocolate flavors too!
Marble cakes are cakes with more than 2 colored (or flavored) cake batter mixed into a single cake. These different colored and flavored batters are typically mixed to create pretty swirls in the cake. Hence the name, marble cakes.
Marble Pound Cake in Marbled Buttercream
This chocolate-vanilla marble cake is another one of my calculated cake recipes. My other calculated recipes are butter pound cake recipe, chocolate cake recipe, orange cake recipe, and coffee cake recipe.
Using my butter pound cake recipe as the basis, I tweaked it to create both vanilla and chocolate cake batter in the same recipe. I used it to create a marble cake that is as soft, rich and delicious as a butter pound cake.
This marble pound cake recipe was also part of my cakes menu when I was running my cake business. After making this so many times, I have figured out the exact recipe measure for various round and square cake tin sizes. And I am very glad to share on this page for you (see my recipe card below).
How to Make Marble Cake – Step by Step Guide
Ingredients for the marble pound cake and marbled buttercream
These are the ingredients that go into this marble pound cake:
- Self raising flour + baking powder + salt
- Castor sugar
- Butter (at room temperature)
- Eggs (at room temperature)
- Cocoa powder
- Vanilla essence
And these are the ingredients for the marbled buttercream:
- Icing sugar
- Butter (salted)
- Cocoa powder
- Milk (optional)
Making the marble pound cake
- In a small bowl, sift the cocoa powder and mix with a quarter of the milk mentioned in the recipe. Mix until it forms a smooth paste. Set aside.
Mixing the marble pound cake batter
- In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This should take a good 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl at least once.
- Add the eggs next. Add them one at a time, and each time, beat until the traces of the egg are no longer visible before adding more. For larger cakes, you can add 2 or 3 eggs at once. However, be sure to beat them well after each addition.
- Fold in the sifted flour (sift the flour with baking powder and salt) alternatively with milk. Add the flour in 3 batches and the milk in 2 batches, starting and ending with flour.
- Finally, fold in the vanilla essence. Remove one-third of the batter into a smaller plate and add the cocoa powder-milk paste to it. Mix well.
Creating a marbled batter
- Now that you have your vanilla batter and chocolate batter separately, you can start to create your marble cake.
Creating swirls in the marble pound cake
- In your greased and lined cake tin, drop spoonfuls of the plain vanilla batter in the tin. Leave a gap between each spoon.
- Next, drop spoonfuls of the cocoa batter. This time, fill in the gaps between the plain vanilla scoops.
- Once the first round is done, repeat the process with a second layer. This time, scoop the plain vanilla batter onto the earlier cocoa scoops. And the cocoa onto the earlier plain vanilla cake batter.
- Continue with the alternate scooping until the cake batter is all used up.
Creating swirls in the marble pound cake
- Next is the marbling effect. This is very simple, all you need is a jam knife or a long skewer.
- Use your jam knife or skewer to cut through the cake batter, in horizontal lines, with a gap of about 2 to 3 cm or more between each cut.
- Repeat the process with vertical lines, followed by diagonal lines. Each time you cut through, make sure your knife or skewer does not touch the base of your cake tin. After all the cutting through, you can see that the cake is all nicely marbled.
- Level the top of your cakes and bake them.
Here’s how the baked marble butter cake would look like:
Baked marble pound cake
How to Decorate a Marble Pound Cake with Marble Buttercream
Making the buttercream
- Start by making the vanilla buttercream. Cream butter and icing sugar until light and creamy. Add some milk if necessary. If are working in a hot environment, you might want to substitute some of the butter with shortening. See my buttercream recipe post here for full details.
- Remove a quarter of the buttercream into a small bowl. Sift in the cocoa powder and mix until the cocoa powder is all well distributed. Do not worry if the cocoa seems very light in the icing. It will take some time to intensify.
Assembling the cake
- While waiting, level your marble pound cakes. Stack them up with some plain vanilla buttercream between the layers.
- Crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and refrigerate for about 10 to 15 minutes for the crumb coat to set.
- Remove the marble cake from the fridge, and apply another coat of buttercream. Use your icing scraper to distribute the icing uniformly all around the sides and top of the cake. At this stage, you need not get the icing all smooth.
- Use a spatula to attach the chocolate icing randomly on the cake.
- Use your icing scraper again, to smooth the chocolate icing on the cake. As you do it, you will notice that the chocolate icing gets blended into the vanilla icing like a watercolor effect.
- Once the cake is generally smooth, it’s time to make the slanting lines pattern on the marbled buttercream cake. Place your cake on a turntable. Hold your palette knife at the bottom of the marble cake as shown.
- Slowly bring the knife up to the top of the cake without lifting it off the cake as you rotate your turntable with your other hand. In doing this, make sure not to press the palette knife too hard into the icing or you will end up scraping it off the cake. Suffice if it touches the icing lightly to create the slanting lines on the cake. Repeat the process to smooth out any bulges of icing you see on the cake in between the slanting lines created in the step above. Repeat the palette knife lines for the cake top, starting from the edges to the center of the marble pound cake.
And that’s pretty much how you make the marbled effect with buttercream. Decorate the cake further if you wish, or serve it as it is for an elegant, rustic look.
Marble Pound Cake – My Recipe Notes
Well greased and lined cake tins
- This is a very important step in baking cakes. Almost all cake recipes require cake tins to be well lined. It can be a matter of sheer frustration when your cake is all so beautifully baked but stuck to the cake tin! I normally apply shortening to my cake tins and then dust them with flour. This is good enough for this marble cake. But in doing this, always make sure each and every corner of the cake tin is well greased. Any spot that is left un-greased could result in your cake being stuck at that spot. And when you invert your cake onto your wire rack for cooling, nothing can be more annoying than to see part of your cake stuck to the cake tin causing an ugly dent in your cake.
- So this step is really worth paying attention to. You can also line your cake tins with grease and parchment paper. The choice is up to you so long as your cake tins are well prepared. You can see the many ways of lining cake tins in my post here.
Use good quality ingredients
- The main ingredients for this marble pound cake recipe are self-raising flour, sugar, butter, eggs and cocoa powder. To these I add baking powder, vanilla essence and milk to help with the aroma, texture and size of the cake. As in any other chocolate cakes, though the chocolate batter forms only part of this cake, it is important to use good quality cocoa powder for the best results.
- The other important ingredient in this cake, just like all my other cakes is the butter. Butter imparts a rich taste which makes this cake taste so good. So it is worth the cost to use good quality butter. I prefer to use salted butter in all my cake recipes and so the butter indicated in this recipe is also salted butter. Because of this, you will notice that the amount of salt I add separately to the cake is rather little. If you prefer to use unsalted butter, it is perfectly ok, but just be sure to increase the amount of salt in the cake.
Measure the ingredients accurately
- The other important factor when it comes to the ingredients in the cake is their measurement. Accuracy is very important for best results and I would strongly recommend using a kitchen scale, either a digital or mechanical one instead of cups as I find ingredients measured by cups tend to vary each time, leading to inconsistent results.
Cream the butter and sugar well
- This marble pound cake is made using the creaming method, which means the butter and sugar are beaten until they turn light and fluffy. For best results, you need to cream the butter and sugar for at least 2 minutes for the recipe measurement given below. Larger cakes will take a longer time. Well creamed cakes will be soft and fluffy so this is a step you need to pay attention to.
Fold in the flour
- The other point to remember is to fold in the flour into the creamed mixture rather than beating it in. And always do it in small portions, at least in 3 parts (for small cakes) up to about 4 to 6 times (for larger cakes).
- This typically means you divide your flour into 3 portions, and the milk into two. You don’t have to literally portion it by using different containers, suffice if you just eyeball it. So you fold in the first portion of the flour, and then add the first portion of the milk. Once well combined, you add in the second portion of the flour, followed by the second portion of the milk and then end it with the 3rd portion of the flour.
- It may not be practical to fold the flour by hand for large cakes, and if you prefer to use a cake mixer, make sure it is at its utmost minimum speed and you do not mix the batter too long. Suffice if the flour and milk is all incorporated.
Adding cocoa powder to the marble pound cake batter
- There are 2 ways in which you can add cocoa powder to the cake batter in this recipe. The first method is by mixing the cocoa powder with milk and folding it into the portioned cake batter. This is the method I have used for this cake.
- The other method is to add the cocoa powder directly into the cake batter and then adding the milk separately after that. If you are to do this, make it a point to sift the cocoa powder into the cake batter. Cocoa powder tends to be lumpy and if you add it directly without sifting, you can end up with tiny lumps of cocoa powder in your batter that is hard to break by just mixing it with a spatula.
Constantly scrape the sides of your mixing bowl
- When mixing the marble pound cake, right from the point where you cream your butter and sugar, always scrape the sides of your bowl frequently. This will ensure the ingredients are well mixed and your cake batter is all smooth and even.
Butter and eggs should be at room temperature
- Sometimes, the creamed butter and sugar mixture tend to curdle with the addition of eggs. Even after beating it really long, it will remain curdled. This happens when the butter and eggs are at different temperatures. If either the eggs or the butter is cold, your cake batter will tend to curdle. If both are of the same temperature, this is unlikely to happen. However, since butter needs to be softened at room temperature to cream it properly, curdling will tend to happen when the eggs are cold.
- To prevent this, make sure your eggs are also at room temperature. If at all it still curdles, do not worry. Add some flour and mix until it is no longer curdled and bake your cake as usual.
If you wish to double or triple this marble pound cake recipe, it is best that you follow the tin size guide I have provided with the recipe
- Each calculated marble pound cake recipe produces 2 layers of cake that measure approximately 2 inches high each. Too much batter in a small cake tin can give you taller cake layers, but it is likely that the cakes will be a little dry on the sides as you would need to bake them longer to get the centers to bake properly.
- So, if you want taller cakes, it is best to bake them in a few tins and sandwich the layers together. Also, if you intend to make cakes larger than 10 inches in diameter, it is highly advisable to use cake strips or a heating core. These will prevent the sides of the cakes from drying out due to longer baking time for larger cakes. See my post here on how to achieve leveled cakes to learn more about using cake strips and heating cores.
Don’t over bake the cakes
- Just like any other cakes, the baking time plays a very important role in the taste and texture of this marble pound cake. Baking the cake for too long can result in a dry cake and under baking can cause the cake to sink. When placing in the oven, always put the cakes on the 3rd rack. This helps prevent the top of the cake from browning too much.
- Check if the cake is done at least 5 to 10 minutes before the baking time is up by inserting a long skewer in the center of the cake. If the skewer comes out without any wet batter sticking to it, the cake is done and can be removed from the oven. Ideally, there should be soft cake crumbs sticking to your skewer. If the skewer comes out totally clean, the cake could have been overcooked. Also, when the cake is done, the sides will pull away from the tin.
Refrigerating the marble pound cake
- This cake can be served on the very same day it is baked, even while it is still warm (without any frosting). It is also equally good when baked in advance and stored in the fridge until it is ready for use, within one week.
- To store the marble pound cake in the fridge, once it is baked and has cooled down slightly, wrap it tightly with cling wrap and refrigerate. Wrapping the cake while it is still warm locks and distributes the moisture in the cake making in soft and moist after refrigeration. When you need to use it, remove the cake from the fridge and with the cling wrap still intact, let it warm up to room temperature. Remove the wrapping only after the cake has reached room temperature to prevent condensation on the cake which can reduce its shelf life.
Keeping the cake at room temperature
- Leftovers of this marble pound cake can be stored at room temperature for a good 4 to 5 days provided it is handled without any moisture. Always ensure the knife used to cut the cake is all dry and the container you intend to store the cake has no traces of water in it. The leftovers can last up to one week if refrigerated. If you wish to use this cake for carving, the cake is best left to rest for at least one day after baking for the texture to stabilize for easy carving with fewer crumbs.
Marble Pound Cake Recipe
Here is the printable version of my marble pound cake recipe and while you are at it, don’t miss my step by step guide on how to make marble cake as well as my important notes for this marble pound cake recipe right above. They contain absolutely useful tips for the best marble pound cake ever!
Marble Pound Cake
- 360 g self raising flour
- 360 g castor sugar
- 360 g butter at room temperature
- 6 eggs at room temperature
- 100 ml milk
- 15 g cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 300 g butter salted
- 600 g icing sugar sifted
- 10 g cocoa powder sifted
- 2 tbsp milk optional
- Preheat oven to 170 °Celsius. Grease and line two 7-inches round cake tins.
- Mix cocoa powder with ¼ of the milk and leave aside.
- In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar till soft and creamy.
- Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
- In another separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Fold in the sifted ingredients into the creamed mixture alternately with milk, starting and ending with flour.
- Finally add in vanilla essence and combine well.
- Transfer ⅓ of the batter into a separate bowl and add the milk-cocoa mixture to it. Mix well.
- Scoop the plain batter and chocolate batter alternately into 2 equal sized, well greased and floured cake tins.
- Bake the cakes for approximately 45 to 50 minutes until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed. The cakes are done when a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out without any wet batter.
- Remove cakes from oven and let them cool completely before frosting and decorating.
- Baking time may vary slightly for larger cakes.
- To make the buttercream, cream butter in a large bowl. Add the sifted icing sugar and beat until the buttercream turns fluffy.
- Remove a small amount of the buttercream into a separate bowl. Mix in the sifted cocoa powder. Add some milk if the icing is too stiff.
- To assemble the cake, fill each cake layer with the plain buttercream. Use the remaining icing to cover the sides and top of the cake. Smooth the buttercream.
- Use a spatula to spread the chocolate buttercream in random intervals on the sides and top fo the cake. Use an icing scraper to smooth the buttercream on the cake.
- Use a palatte knife to create horizontal lines on the sides of the cake and circular patterns on the top of the cake.
Calculated Tin Sizes9 inches round/ 8 inches square (makes 2 layers of 2 inch high cakes)
- 600 g butter
- 600 g castor sugar
- 550 g self-raising flour
- 10 eggs
- 25 g cocoa powder
- 150 ml milk
- 1 ⅔ tsp vanilla essence
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
- 840 g butter
- 840 g castor sugar
- 840 g self-raising flour
- 14 eggs
- 35 g cocoa powder
- 220 ml milk
- 2 ⅓ tsp vanilla essence
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 ¾ tsp baking powder
- 1200 g butter
- 1200 g castor sugar
- 1200 g self-raising flour
- 20 eggs
- 50 g cocoa powder
- 330 ml milk
- 3 ⅓ tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
And that is pretty much all I have for you on my marble pound cake recipe.
Here are my other posts you might want to check out:
- Butter Pound Cake Recipe
- Super Moist Vanilla Cake
- Chocolate Cake Recipe
- Orange Layer Cake with Orange Buttercream and Candied Peels
- How to Melt Chocolate – The Best Way to Melt Chocolate
Happy Baking 🙂