A Checkerboard cake with lemon buttercream is just as much fun to make as it is to eat. You will be very surprised how easy it is.
Let’s face it it just looks like fun… and it is. This cake is soft and vanilla-ery and tastes just the best with its lemon buttercream. It will make an ideal birthday cake for people that love fun!
I know it looks tricky but you will be surprised how easy it is the make this cake. I have made it in a chocolate and vanilla version too. No matter what colour your cake is you’ll be able to make a great checkerboard cake with these simple directions.
Mixing up coloured cakes for the checkerboard cake
Let’s start with mixing up the cake to make brilliant colours. You will need paste colours only. Divide the cake into 4 and colour each one whatever colour you like. I used green, yellow, pink and I left one layer of white.
Once all the cakes are cooked that’s where the fun begins. Each cake needs to be trimmed so that it is flat and fits perfectly with the others.
Cutting and stacking a checkerboard cake
Start off with 4 cakes. Flatten them off and trim them. Cut each cake into three even circles
Put all the cakes together in contrasting colours. Then one by one line each cake with buttercream and put the cakes back together.
The cakes can then be spread with lemon buttercream and stacked upon each other.
Once the cake is stacked it can be covered in buttercream. Separate the leftover buttercream into 4 bowls and colour in the same shades as the cake. Decorate with rosettes and coloured slashes around the base.
How to keep this cake
This buttercream cake will last for up to a week. It should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. When you want to eat the cake bring it to room temperature by leaving it out of the fridge for an hour or so.
Buying colours for cakes
Check out this making buttercream guide
Checkerboard cake with lemon buttercream
This colourful fun cake is easier than you may think. Stick with 2, colours or use 4 as I have. It’s done all the same just alternate colours and layers together
- 500 gm flour, plain 17.60 oz | 3 1/2 cups
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 350 gm caster sugar 12.35 oz | 1 1/2 cups
- 90 gm brown sugar 3.20 oz | 1/2 cup
- 250 gm butter, melted, unsalted 8.8 oz
- 2 large eggs (110gm)
- 500 ml buttermilk 2 cups
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 gel colours
- 500 gm unsalted butter, room temperature 17.60 oz
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 500 gm icing sugar 17.60 oz / approx 4 cups
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
You will need 4 cake tins. 16 to 17 cm or 8 to 9 inches. Grease and line the tins.Set the oven to 170C/ 340C
Put the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a bowl and whisk well to combine
Mix the two sugars, the vanilla and buttermilk together and whisk well until smooth and combined. Melt the butter and whisk into the buttermilk mixture until combined
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until thick and well combined (Mix by hand or in a mixer with a paddle attachment)
Divide the mixture into 4 bowls and colour each one (or just use two colours). Fill each cake tin with the batter. Bake approx 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean
Cool the cakes. (cakes cut better once chilled). Cut the top from the cakes and flatten them to even.
Buttercream is more successfully made in a mixer. Beating butter until light and creamy makes the best frosting. Use the paddle attachment or beaters if using a hand held mixer.
Cut the butter into cubes and let it come to room temperature.
Zest the lemon and add the zest, the vanilla and salt to the butter in a mixer bowl. beat till light and fluffy. The butter will be nice and white. This should take about 5 to 8 minutes at least. Add the icing sugar 1/2 a cup at once and beat in well.
Whipping up buttercream requires adding the sugar a bit at a time. This allows it to be incorporated into the butter without knocking the air out, that you just put into it. It allows the sugar to melt into the butter slowly AND most importantly the sugar won’t fly out everywhere when you turn the mixer on.
Squeeze the lemon. Once the sugar is added finish the mixture off with as much lemon juice as your tastebuds want. You should think about adding just enough to make the buttercream light and spreadable (usually about 20 to 30 ml- 1 to 11/2 tablespoons)
For coloured buttercream
Use 1/2 or up to 3/4 the buttercream aside. Once you have filled and covered the cake you can colour what is left separating as described belowDivide the buttercream into 4 separate bowls and colour them to match the cake layers. To pipe multicoloured buttercream, spoon the buttercream onto a piece of cling wrap. Wrap this up into a sausage and cut the end close then put into a piping bag with a star tube. The buttercream will squash out the bottom in a nice multicoloured stream.
Cutting the cake and making the patterns
Icing sugar types: Pure icing sugar or icing sugar mixture are different. Pure icing sugar is just that, pure and not mixed with anything. Icing sugar mixture has cornflour in it. This stops the sugar from forming lumps. Cornflour can also give glazes a better texture when pouring. When sprinkling over cakes and pastries it also lasts a little longer before melting than pure icing sugar
There is a lot of buttermilk in this recipe> Do I need it? YES you do. Buttermilk is acidic and it will react to your raising agents creating a great texture for your cake. What if I can’t get Buttermilk? That’s easy, you can make it.
To one cup of milk (250ml | 8.45 fl oz) add 2 tablespoons (or 40 ml) of white vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and set aside
Gel colours. These are not liquid and they don’t change the texture as a liquid colour would.