Let’s Start with the cake.
I intended to make a Battenberg cake, aka Checkerboard Cake, for a special birthday celebration, but no matter how much research; how many YouTube videos; how many inquiries to friends who are excellent bakers, I could not figure out how to put it together. So, I decided to make a Vanilla and Chocolate cake in layers–a striped cake rather than a checkerboard!
A classic Battenberg cake is made with pink and yellow sponge cake in a checkered pattern. It is held together with jam and covered in marzipan.
The name came from a cake that was created as a wedding present for Prince Louis of Battenberg and Princess Victoria (granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth). Using his last name as the title of the cake paid the highest tribute to England’s newest royal family. The four blocks represent the four princes of Battenberg. But enough history…on to the cake!
And here is what the classic Checkerboard cake looks like, but you can use any colors, flavors, and any number of layers to make your perfect cake. It does not have to be a classic royal Louis/Victoria Battenberg!
To make both the chocolate cake batter and frosting a little richer, I used two types of unsweetened cocoa-Hershey’s Special Dark and Hershey’s 100% Cacao.
Any good espresso powder would work well for the frosting, but I had this super-rich Cafe La Llave from Cuba. Not for the faint of heart, as it’s pretty strong, but added great depth of richness and flavor to the frosting.
When you are finally ready to frost, insert pieces of parchment paper under the first layer to keep your cake plate clean. Once completely frosted, gently slip them out. If your layers are not perfectly even (as mine were not) just spread frosting to accommodate any dips or uneven spots.
Black And White Cake With Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
This cake is rich, but very tender and the chocolate buttercream frosting is light as a cloud.
- 4 cups All-purpose Flour
- 2 tsp. Baking Powder
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1 1/2 cups Unsalted butter, room temperature Yes, that really is 3 sticks of butter!
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1/3 cup Cooking oil I used vegetable oil.
- 5 large Eggs Always bring to room temperature before using.
- 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
- 2 cups Sour cream I used Greek style yogurt.
For The Chocolate Cake Batter
- 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder I used half special dark and half regular.
- 1/4 cup Hot water
- 1 tsp. Instant Coffee powder I used Folger's. That was my Dad's favorite.
For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
- 1 1/2 cups Butter, softened I used salted as I used all my unsalted for the cake! Yes, and now we really are up to 6 sticks of butter!
- 1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa powder Again, I used half special dark and half regular.
- 5 cups Confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 2 tsp. Vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. Expresso powder
For the Cake...
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Grease and line with parchment, three 8" round cake pans; or four 7" cake pans.
To make the chocolate paste: Combine hot water, cocoa powder, and coffee powder to make a thick chocolate paste. Set aside to cool while you prepare the batter.(1/4 cup cocoa powder; 1 tsp. coffee powder; 1/4 cup hot water) Dry ingredients: Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.(4 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, 1/2 tsp. salt) Wet ingredients: In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Then, gradually add the oil followed by the eggs, one at a time making sure each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next, and finally the vanilla extract.(1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, 2 cups sugar, 1/3 cup cooking oil, 5 large eggs, 2 tsp. vanilla) Next, add the flour mixture and sour cream in three batches making sure to combine well after each addition, but do not overmix, as that can make your cake sponge tough. This will be a thick consistency batter so do not add more milk or water unless absolutely necessary.(All dry ingredients plus 2 cups sour cream or yogurt)
Next step gets a little tricky. Separate the batter into 3 bowls with each bowl containing the same amount of vanilla batter. You can really get precise and weigh each bowl. I used my eyeball. If you are using four 7" pans this becomes a little easier as you just pour the batter into two bowls of equal amounts and then download into the four 7" cake pans-2 vanilla; 2 chocolate.
For the vanilla batter: Do nothing. If you are using the four 7" pans, pour batter evenly into two of the four prepared pans. I poured 2/3 of the batter into 2 pans, leaving the last cake pan for the chocolate batter.
For the chocolate batter: Add the chocolate paste mixture into the remaining 1/3 cake batter. Then add to the remaining prepared cake pan. Because you have added more liquid to this batter than the vanilla it took longer to bake, but texture was still perfect.
Bake: Transfer the pans to the oven and bake for about 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The chocolate cake took about 60 minutes. If necessary, depending on how evenly your oven cooks, rotate the pans halfway through cooking.
Cool. When done, cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert on a cooling rack, remove parchment paper, and cool completely; at least a few hours and overnight is fine, too. You don't want to frost a warm cake as your frosting will melt.
When completely cooled, hold cakes on edge and with a bread knife cut each layer in half. Brush off any crumbs and get ready to assemble.
But first, let's make the frosting.
Add cocoa powder to a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to remove any lumps. (1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder)
Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined. (1 1/2 cups butter plus whisked cocoa powder)
Add the confectioner's sugar and milk to the cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about 1 tsp. of milk. Do not add the sugar all at once or it will end up all over your counter. (5 cups confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cup milk)
After each addition has been combined, turn the mixer onto a high speed for about a minute or 2 to really fluff up the frosting.
Add 2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp. expresso powder and combine well.
If the frosting appears too dry, add more milk a tbsp. at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears too wet and does not hold it's form/shape, add more confectioner's sugar a tbsp. at a time. I found these measurements to be perfect for a soft, creamy spreadable frosting.
TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKES: Once each layer is cut in half, place the first layer on a cake plate with pieces of parchment paper under that first layer. This keeps the cake plate clean when you are frosting. Generously top the first layer with the frosting and then keep repeating until all layers are used. Because I used three 8" pans I ended up with a 5-layer cake and one left for another occasion. Once the cake is assembled finish frosting the sides and top making swirly decorations if you like. I topped the cake with some pretty purple pansies. I know this may sound like a tremendous amount of work, but if you just go step by step it really is not. And it is certainly well worth it. This is not an ordinary cake!
I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we all did at the very special birthday celebration for Dianna and Kathy. Birthdays are the celebration of YOU and always worth a little fuss! I am very fortunate to have so many dear lady friends in my life, who enjoy food as much as I do.
UNTIL NEXT TIME…EAT MORE CAKE!