Chequerboard Cakes


My poor husband almost didn’t get a birthday cake this year! I was totally lacking inspiration and didn’t want to make him a cake just for the sake of it. He loves all things custard and I had planned just to do him a custard tart, in fact I still might, but no cake. However this week I received my order of new and replacement Foodie Flavours and they had kindly included a complimentary bottle of rhubarb flavour. Inspiration finally struck – he loves rhubarb and I hate it so I never cook it!


He also loves rhubarb and custard sweets – the kind you used to buy by the quarter as a kid. So there it was a rhubarb and custard cake was formulating in my mind, but what to do inside? My first thought was a marbled cake but I thought the flavours might get lost, so different layers maybe? Then I finally settled on a chequered board style cake and this is it!

I won’t bore you with my recipe as it’s just a simple Madeira style sponge, the custard layers were made by replacing 25g of the flour with custard powder and adding egg yolk yellow Sugarflair paste. The rhubarb flavour simply had some drops of rhubarb natural flavouring added and pink Sugarflair colouring. I felt it needed quite a lot of the drops to get any flavour and you’ll have to ask my husband if it tasted of rhubarb, but it was certainly fruity! I made a deep 6 inch sponge of each colour, also important is that I made it the day before, if you plan to cut cakes for construction its best that they rest overnight first as very fresh cake is too crumbly.

The chequerboard is really easy to achieve – here’s how to do it.

Firstly you needed flat even layers of cake. I always bake my cakes in deep straight sided tins then split them, it gives you a much more evenly sided cake to work with. For this cake the layers need to be the same height and level so you need to get a ruler out. I find the best way to get a level top is to measure up the side of the cake and mark the upper level with a cocktail stick. For this cake I went 4cm as it was the highest point I could achieve a level at for both cakes.


Once you have marked all round the cake with the cocktail sticks get a large sharp serrated knife and start to cut just above each cocktail stick moving around the cake as you go,


don’t try to cut all he way through the cake in one go, but instead cut and turn.


I have a short video here that shows you how to do it ( with some rather hilarious sped up music in the background!)

You then need to split the cakes into two layers using the same method as before.


Next step is to use circular cookie cutters to cut out evenly sized rings in each cake, it’s a good idea to use a ruler to centralise the rings checking that you have the same distance all the way around the ring to the edge of the cake.


Mine had a couple of centimetres between the ring and the cake, then for the middle circle again a couple of centimetres.


They need to be even to get the full chequered board effect. Once you have cut the circles in each layer it’s time to switch them around.

Hopefully the pictures explain how to do it better than the written instructions!

Wipe a thin layer of buttercream around each circle and swap the cake colours to alternate the rings.


The final result will be four layers looking a bit like targets!


Next step is to construct the layers on top of each other, once again a thin scraping of buttercream, just enough to stick the layers together.


Alternate the outer edge colours as you go


You will need to cover the cake to hide the layers so that its a surprise when its cut, also there isn’t much buttercream on the cake yet so a good layer on the outside stops the cake being too dry.

Firstly rough coat the whole cake with a thin layer to stop the crumbs showing through the final layer, and pop it in the fridge to set for half and hour or so.


I used swiss meringue buttercream for the first time on this cake which has a lovely creamy texture to work with. I wont give you huge detail on how to buttercream a cake but just incase you want to know roughly how I achieved the final finish – the yellow was flavoured with a creme patissiere and coloured again wth egg yolk yellow Sugarflair paste, the pink was just coloured and flavoured as I did for the sponge, with rhubarb natural flavouring and pink paste. To get the marbled effect dollop the colours of buttercream randomly over the sides and top of the cake and smooth as usual.


I finished my cake off with Rhubarb and Custard sweets round the top and lemon & sour cherry sherbet around the base.


I love to hear your comments especially if you try any of my recipes and instructions so please feel free to leave me a message.
Little footnote update – he got his custard tart too!

Link up your recipe of the week

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11 thoughts on “Chequerboard Cakes

  1. We have done one chequerboard once before but things learned and this one was much better. I found Foodie Flavours at cake shows lots to choose from and all natural I would say the baked part didn’t take much flavour but the buttercream was lovely


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