Chequerboard cake made easy

Chequerboard cake made easy

Lucy's Bakes
30 mins
Cooking time
20 mins
Jacqui Melville

Inspired by my nieces, Hattie and Lydia, who made the most beautiful round chequerboard cakes for birthdays last summer, I tried to find a way of getting a similar wow factor but using only one tin. This is perfect for a special tea party. Ideally you need piping bags for this but you can use freezer or greaseproof paper bags and snip the corner off – they need to be quite strong so they don’t split. If absolutely necessary, you can just carefully spoon the cake mixture into the tin.


Quantity Ingredient
4 eggs
butter, at room temperature
caster sugar
self-raising flour
25g cocoa powder
30g water
1/3 x 340 g jar apricot jam
sam’s chocolate fudge icing, (see note)
or Chocolate ganache, to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a roasting or traybake tin with baking paper.
  2. Weigh the eggs and in their shells weigh the same amount of butter, sugar and self-raising flour. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale, smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. (If this curdles then add a spoon of your flour to help it come back together).
  3. Sift the flour over the surface and gently fold in using a metal spoon. Now divide the mix equally into 2 bowls. Then spoon 2 tablespoons of mixture from one bowl into the other – this will equal the amounts out when you add the cocoa to the first bowl.
  4. Add the cocoa and water to the bowl with less mixture in it and gently fold it in so you now have 2 sponge mixes – one plain and one chocolate. Put the mixture into 2 piping bags (no need for nozzles).
  5. Pipe 12 x 20 cm long rows alternately one chocolate, one plain, about 2 cm wide and a little apart widthways down the tin so you end up with 12 short rows of mixture. Bake for 15–20 minutes, until the centre springs back when gently pressed or until a cocktail stick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
  6. Cut into 3 equal pieces, each of which will have 2 plain and 2 chocolate rows in it. Trim the edges so you have lost the ‘thinner’ edge bits. Use these to make leftover cake truffles.
  7. Melt the jam (blend or sieve it if it has lots of fruit bits) and use to sandwich the 3 cakes together. You’ll need to turn the middle cake over before sandwiching to make sure the chocolate strips are above the white ones to give the final chequerboard effect.
  8. Make either Sam’s chocolate fudge icing or chocolate ganache, spread all over the cake and leave to set. Serve cut in slices.


  • This recipe is vegetarian and nut-free.

What the testers say

  • NAOMI AND RUTH HULME – ‘Normally when I have made a Battenburg-type cake I have baked 2 cakes, cut it up and stuck it together but this recipe is great – you only use one tin!'

    LYNSEY JONES – ‘Cooked this for chalet guests and they loved it.’

    HATTIE CUFFLIN – ‘A great and easy version of my chequerboard cake – my housemates were impressed!’


  • The cake can be made ahead and then frozen. Thaw and decorate the day before needed.


  • To make the icing, melt 100 g butter and 60 g cocoa powder in a saucepan, then add 250 g sifted icing sugar and just enough water to loosen the icing so it is really thick and spreadable (you may need several spoonfuls of water).
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