Thursday, November 14, 2013

Checkered Cake Recipe

I love basics - a sponge cake when done well is utterly delicious. Which is also why I am always on a search for the perfect sponge cake recipe. There are many recipes out there but the key is finding what works best for you both in terms of methodology and taste.

A good sponge cake, at least according to my standards, should be light and fluffy. The texture should be fine, not too many air holes in the cake and it shouldn't be overly sweet. I don't like adding too many artificial ingredients in my home-baking so that rules out sponge cake emulsifiers. I classify sponge cake recipes into two main categories - (A) those which call for the beating of whole eggs bain-marie (double broiler) till double in volume and (B) egg-separation method/chiffon cake style. My personal preference is the latter since I find it a fuss to set up a bain-marie. However, for the egg-separation method to be successful, the eggs have to be at room temperature and the egg whites have to be absolutely free of egg yolks or any traces of fat.

Once you have your favourite sponge cake recipe, you can use it as a base for layered cakes - Japanese Strawberry ShortcakeChocolate Peanut Butter CakeJapanese Chestnut Cake (Mont Blanc), and the list goes on. The recipe I am sharing in this post pairs the simple vanilla and chocolate sponge cakes together with buttercream and covered in dark chocolate ganache - Checkered Cake!

This cake is inspired by Lady M's checkered cake. I had the chance to try their Mille crepe cake and Mont Blanc but wasn't blown away. That said I spotted a lovely Checkered cake which has been on my to-do list ever since.


Most of your time spent making this cake is in the layering and cutting. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to take much pictures this time round but I will try to explain it with graphics. More to come below.


For plain sponge 
2 egg yolks
15g non-flavoured oil (I used Canola oil)
35g cake flour
5g corn flour

2 egg whites
40g caster sugar

For chocolate sponge
2 egg yolks
15g non-flavoured oil (I used Canola oil)
35g cake flour
5g corn flour
5g cocoa powder

2 egg whites
40g caster sugar

For vanilla buttercream
120g unsalted butter
50g icing sugar
1 tsp homemade vanilla essence

For chocolate ganache
100g dark chocolate
50g whipping cream


1. Make chocolate and plain sponge cakes using egg separation method. Refer to step by step pictures here. In one bowl, whisk egg yolks till light and fluffy. Add in oil and sieve in cake flour (cake flour and cocoa powder for chocolate cake). Mix well and leave aside. Whisk egg whites till forthy, add in sugar and beat till stiff peaks. Fold egg white into egg yolk-flour batter

2. Once cakes are ready, chill in fridge for about 30 minutes before cutting. This will help to firm up the cake and make it less crumbly when cutting

3. To make buttercream, beat butter and add in icing sugar and vanilla essence. Beat till light and fluffy

4. Cut sponge cakes. Refer to illustration below

When cutting the cake into smaller circles, each ring's width is approximately 1-2 cm. The smaller the ring width, the more the "checkers" will appear when you slice the eventual cake. Once this is done, you have 3 rings and 1 centre for each sponge cake layer

5. Now it's time for assembly. Alternate the rings, spreading buttercream along the dotted lines. This will help to hold the cake together when cut. Once you complete layer 1, cover top of layer 1 with buttercream and repeat to get layer 2. Keep chilled in the fridge while you prepare chocolate ganache.

6. To prepare chocolate ganache, heat whipping cream till warm and add in chocolate. Mix well and pour a thin layer over cake to set the crumbs. Pop cake in freezer for quick freeze. Pour remaining chocolate over cake and chill in fridge for 4-5 hours before serving


To make good buttercream, the brand of the butter is important. I like French butters like President or Le Petit Normand. The former is on the pricer-end whereas the latter can be bought from baking shops ($3.10). I am a self-professed butter hoarder - whenever I spot President brand butter on sale, I buy blocks to store away until use. Avoid dense/heavy butters like SCS butter because it produces a rather "oily" buttercream. I had the most unpleasant experience using kitchen roll to remove the oil that was oozing from my cake covered with SCS buttercream.

If you want to make chocolate ganache but have no whipping cream on hand, refer to my other chocolate ganache recipe which uses milk, chocolate and butter.

This is a 2 layer cake, double the volumes to get a nice tall 4 layer cake.

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