Cinnamon Chocolate Checkerboard Cake

Cinnamon Chocolate Checkerboard Cake

For those of us that bake a lot – and even those who dabble – I think many of us find inspiration (or envy!) from what we see others doing in their homes, bakeries, etc. I know that I find a ton of encouragement from my dad and my brother, often thinking about how I want replicate one of their recipes or a decorating technique.

 

Another place I find inspiration (and a fantastic self-care opportunity): the Great British Baking Show. In a world of real life stressors (climate change, health crises, etc.), I find nothing more relaxing than being “stressed” if someone is going to finish their bake on time (and they always do!). Also, the creativity, unbelievable skill, dedication, and kindness that the contestants bake with – I mean, what’s not to love?

 

Of course, every time I watch the show I think about how many of those recipes I want to attempt myself. I haven’t gotten around to many, but at some point, somewhere along the way, someone made a checkerboard cake. And it looked awesome. And I wanted to try myself! And so I have – and as it turns out, it’s quite simple, SO MUCH FUN to serve, and using a tried-and-true cake recipe, also really delicious. As long as you’ve got general baking equipment (baking pans, cooling racks, etc), the only special tools needed are specifically sized cookie cutters.

 

The recipes I’ve included for the cake and frosting are adaptable; I wanted to do a black-and-white cake so that there was as stark difference in the color on the inside. The buttercream can be easily adapted (just remove the cinnamon and it’s a simple but delicious buttercream), and with some red food dye it’s a brilliant Valentine’s Day cake.

 

 

 

I spent quite a bit of time perusing the internet to figure out how to put this cake together. It’s best explained through visuals, so I’ve included a bunch of photos below to best explain.

 

In so far as planning, I did take my time with the cakes. I started by making the vanilla cake batter. While those cakes baked, I made the batter for the chocolate cakes. By the time the vanilla cakes were ready to be removed from the pan, I just washed and then re-used the same pans, and baked off the chocolate cakes. After all of the cakes cooled completely, I wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap, and put them in the freezer.

 

A few days later, I took the cakes out of the freezer and while they were still cold, I leveled off the top of the cakes, so that they would lay flat when stacked on top one another. I then made the buttercream (to give the cakes a few more minutes to thaw), and by then, the cakes were a great temperature to start cutting and stacking.

 

For the cookie cutters, I used this 6-inch cutter. I already happened to own a 3-inch biscuit cutter, so I used that for the smaller rings – but this one is the correct size.

 

Step 1: start by lining up your cutters. You obviously want the large cutter it to be centered at 3 inches on all sides. Same for the smaller cutter.

vanilla cake

 

Here’s another view.

vanilla cake

 

You’ll cut these rings out of all the cakes, and set them aside. Be careful with the cake rings, though if the cake is partially frozen, it’s so much easier to work with. I did have one ring break slightly, but went ahead with it anyway, and once the cake was stacked, it was impossible to tell.

 

Once you’re done cutting, here’s what your left with (apologies for the terrible photos, it was dark outside).

cake rings

 

From there, you’ll insert the rings in an alternating pattern.

assembly of cake

 

And then stack, in an alternating pattern with a thin layer of frosting in between each layer).

frosted and stacked cake

 

And that’s it! You’ll frost the top and side, and it’ll look like a regular cake. And then you’ll cut into it, and people will be SO EXCITED to see what you’ve created!

 

 

Print
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Cinnamon Chocolate Checkerboard Cake


  • Author: recipes slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Sally's Baking Addiction
Scale

Ingredients

Golden Vanilla Cake

from Smitten Kitchen

  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cup + 2 tablespoons (320 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups (350 ml) buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) cornstarch
  • 2 ½ plus 4 tablespoons (360 grams) all-purpose flour

 

Fudgy Chocolate Cinnamon Cake

Very slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 12 tablespoons (170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups (290 grams) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (50 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups (350 ml) buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
  • 1 cup (80 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour

 

Cinnamon Buttercream frosting

Very slightly adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6 cups (720g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk or heavy cream
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

For the vanilla cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large blown with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, yolks, and vanilla, until combined, scrape down the bowl, and then sprinkle the baking powder, baking soda, and salt over the batter and beat until very well combined. Add the butter milk and mix to combine; the batter may look curdly, but this isn’t a problem. Add the cornstarch and flour, and mix until the flour just disappears.
  3. Evenly divide the batter into the prepared pans (weighing or measuring the batter is super helpful for accuracy) and smooth the tops. Bake for 25 to 27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the cake to ensure its loose, flip it out onto a cooling rack, carefully remove the parchment, and then flip back right side up onto another. Let cool completely before frosting. You can hasten this process along in your freezer, where it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to fully cool.

For the cinnamon chocolate cake: 

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat two 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large blown with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, yolks, and vanilla, until combined, scrape down the bowl, and then sprinkle the baking powder, baking soda, and salt over the batter and beat until very well combined. Add the butter milk and mix to combine; the batter may look curdly, but this isn’t a problem. Add the cocoa, cinnamon, and flour, and mix until the flour just disappears.
  3. Evenly divide the batter into the prepared pans (weighing or measuring the batter is super helpful for accuracy) and smooth the tops. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the cake to ensure its loose, flip it out onto a cooling rack, carefully remove the parchment, and then flip back right side up onto another. Let cool completely before frosting. You can hasten this process along in your freezer, where it shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes to fully cool.

For the buttercream:

In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 2 minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, more milk if frosting is too thick, or an extra pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet.

Assembly:

  1. Once cakes are fully cooled (or even better, slightly thawed), make sure the cakes are all about equal height. If some of your cakes have domed a bit (mine did), trim the tops so that you have nice, even layers.
  2. Referencing the photos above as a guide, use a 6-inch round cookie cutter to cut a circle out of each cake. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut a circle out of each newly-formed 6-inch cake. Repeat with all of the cakes.
  3. Start stacking the cakes by placing one 9-inch circle outline of a cake on the serving late, then insert an alternating color of the 6-inch cake, and then inserting a 3-inch round. Spread a thin layer frosting on top, and repeat with alternating colors on the next layer. Repeat until completed with all 4 layers, and then spread the remaining frosting on the top and sides. Decorate cake as desired!

 

 


Notes

Fully cooled caked can also be individually wrapped (tightly in plastic wrap) and frozen until needed. This makes the cutting and stacking the cakes much easier; just let the cake thaw slightly on the countertop before using.

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