If you’ve ever seen a checkerboard (or chequerboard) cake before, you probably won’t believe me when I say this is the easy way to make one. The inside of these cakes look so amazing that there’s no way it can be easy, right?
Well, I’m here to tell you that, not only is this the easiest way to make a checkerboard cake, I’d go as far as to say it’s the cheat’s way of making a checkerboard cake!
If it’s cheating to buy the cakes and the icing and just put it all together, then consider me a cheat! Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook and bake, but sometimes, you just need a quick and easy way to do things. This Cheats Checkerboard Cake is just that – an easy way to create something pretty amazing!
You don’t need a special baking pan or fancy equipment to pull this off. All you need is 4 store-bought cakes (of 2 different flavours) and a little help from Betty Crocker and her frosting! No baking required!
For the purpose of this post I bought my cakes from Aldi – two caramel and two chocolate mud cakes, but you can also buy the same sorts of cakes from Coles and Woolworths. (Just check the ones from Coles before you buy them as I have found the different flavours of cakes from there seem to be slightly different in size, which makes it difficult to assemble them together.
Might have just been a one-off from my local Coles and/or the flavours of cakes that I used that time – I think it was the chocolate cakes were smaller than the white chocolate cakes. Not a deal breaker but worth checking as it’s much easier to assemble the checkerboard cake if the cakes are all the same size.)
I’d recommend 4 tubs of Betty Crocker Chocolate Frosting as you need plenty of frosting to cover each of the rings and layers of the cake, as well as a final cover over the whole cake. It doesn’t have to be Betty Crocker – any brand will do – I think the big supermarkets usually have their own brands of frosting which would be fine too.
I’ve tried mixing vanilla and chocolate frosting in the past (when the store didn’t have enough chocolate frosting). I used vanilla on the inside of the cake and chocolate on the outside but, frankly it’s not as good – doesn’t look as good or taste as good as just using chocolate.
That being said, this was my first attempt using caramel mud cakes – I’ve previously just used chocolate and white chocolate – caramel lovers might also enjoy this cake with caramel frosting!
The only problem could be that it probably wouldn’t give as good of a contrast for the look of the inside of the cake. So, from a purist’s point of view, stick with 4 tubs of chocolate frosting but, if you like to mix things up a little (or the shop doesn’t have 4 tubs of chocolate!) you could try incorporating some caramel frosting instead.
While it might look daunting, the process is pretty simple.
You’ll need a template to cut around to make sure your rings of cake are all appropriately sized.
I do this the old fashioned way – measure the diameter of the cakes and then divide it into thirds. From memory, my cakes were 18cm in diameter which means they had a 9 cm radius.
So, I put a pencil into an old compass, measured a 9cm radius and drew the outer circle of the cake onto some paper. Then, dividing the radius into thirds, I also drew circles at 6cm and 3cm. And then cut them out.
It’s actually only the centre ring that is needed as you cut around the outside edge of it and the inside edge of it to cut your cakes into 3 rings, so, to make the template last better, I usually trace and cut the centre ring out of cardboard – an old cereal box works well for this.
If that’s all sounding too much for you, don’t panic! Here’s a template from the Great Australian Bake Off from many years ago.
The other alternative is to use large, round cookie or scone cutters of approximately the right size. This would make this a very easy process.
As yet I haven’t been able to find any of the right size and shape but I know they are out there, so if you know where I can get some, please let me know so I can share it on here, as well as save myself some time and hassle when making a checkerboard cake.
Once your template is ready, the fun begins!
Take any packaging and paper off the cakes and use a serrated knife to carefully cut the tops off each of them. You want to remove their domes and make them nice and flat as well as remove the icing that they come with.
Then, place your template onto each cake, one at a time, and cut each cake into 3 rings.
Once your cakes are separated, choose a flavour to begin with, it doesn’t matter which, and place an outer ring onto the plate or serving stand you plan to serve your cake on – you don’t want to have to shift it once it’s assembled.
Take the alternative flavoured middle ring and add a generous amount of frosting to either the inside of the outer ring or the outside of the middle ring, then carefully place the middle ring inside the outer ring. Repeat with the centre piece of a cake – this flavour will match the flavour of the original outside ring.
Add a layer of frosting on top of the bottom layer.
Then start building the next layer, beginning with an outer ring from a cake that is different to the outside ring of the first layer.
Then it really is a simple process of assembling each piece, ring by ring, layer by layer, with frosting between each ring and every layer, until all of the cake rings have been used and you’ve got a 4 layered cake in front of you.
No matter how carefully you’ve stacked your rings, you will likely need to get a serrated knife, hold it vertically along the side of the cake and carefully trim off any edges that are sticking out.
Try to get it fairly even but don’t worry too much as the final layer of frosting will cover it all up.
If you haven’t heated your frosting before now, now is the time to do it. Warming it up in the microwave (follow the directions on the tub) makes it easier to spread all over the cake. Pour it on the top of the cake and then use a spatula to spread it all over the sides – expect drips and a mess!
Get some paper towel or a kitchen cloth and clean up around the cake – I guarantee there will be frosting all over your serving plate, but just take a bit of time to wipe it away now so that it looks a bit prettier.
Now you can decorate your cake any way you like. In the video we made for this post we used white chocolate grated or peeled over the top. No, it’s not grated cheese!
Normally I just crumble a Flake or 2 over the top but I wanted something that would contrast and stand out in the video so this time I used white chocolate. Really you could use anything you like on top.
As this was a combination of chocolate and caramel, maybe some Rolo’s would have worked well? Or you could use sprinkles, M&M’s or just some grated chocolate – whatever takes your fancy and suits the occasion.
Truth be known, it’s the inside of this cake that looks spectacular so it doesn’t matter too much how you decorate it.
When it’s time to cut the cake, make sure you have plates at the ready. As the cake is 4 layers tall, the slices are pretty big, so you might need some help from someone else to get each piece from cake to plate.
Then all that’s left to do is to enjoy it and bask in the admiration of your guests as they marvel at how clever you are!
Here’s the video we made to show you just how easy it can be to make a checkerboard cake.