The Checkerboard Cake…just for fun


I have made this cake twice now in the last couple of months.  The first time was for my grandson’s birthday; I thought it would be fun to try and then my granddaughter was so impressed with the concept that she requested it for her birthday just last week.  So I’m getting alot of practice and each time I learn something more.  So here’s the culmination of my checkerboard experience, thus far.  It really is an intriguing design. 


The cake starts with a recipe of yellow or white cake and one of chocolate, each needs to produce two rounds similar in size.  Cake mixes work well because each box generally yields the same amount of batter.  If you make the two cakes from scratch try and find recipes that use similar amounts of flour, sugar and eggs, so the yield will be equivalent.

You can get the checkerboard effect with just three layers but since you have to make four rounds to complete even only three layers you might as well use the fourth layer and make it all that much more impressive.  Once the layers are baked and cooled the cutting and assembling can begin.

You will need to round up lids, bowls or plates that you can use as templates.  The first time I did this I used randoms items for templates that produced the right size rings and the second time I made the cake I remembered that I had a set of graduating bowls and so I used those instead.


I chose the three sizes I felt would be appropriate.


Now here’s something important to consider.  The first time I made the cake I used just two templates…which produced fewer checkers but also produced a much more stable cake.  Notice the difference…first the cake with two templates…


Here’s the cake with three templates…


There are more checkers but if you look closely at the left side you will see where the layers are splitting away from the cake .  The smaller/skinnier rings are too unstable and there is not enough mass to hold them together.  If I ever make this cake again I will use only two templates.

After you have chosen your templates the next step is to cut each of the layers into rings. 


First template…


Second template…


until all layers are cut uniformly.  Next you will need to lift and seperate rings and reassemble with alternate colors and layers. 


Don’t let these pictures confuse you.  This was the attempt with three templates (too many) so the look is a little different.  But you get the idea.  I would strongly recommend getting a second pair of hands to lift and assemble these outer rings.  Once they are all refitted then the layering begins…

One thing first.  You may need to level each of the layers.  That is done by taking a serrated knife and running it across the top of each completed set.


Once all groups are level then the layering can begin.


Put the first layer down on the platter and then seal it with some frosting.  The frosting helps hold the rings together when doing the cutting at serving time. 


Continue with the second layer, then repeat with the third and fourth layer.


Once the cake is stacked then you can frost the sides and top


and decorate it any way you like.


I just buy a few bags of candy and let the grandchildren take over.


If I ever do this again here are my final recommendations:

1) Use only two templates (not three)

2) Make sure the width of each of the two outer rings equals the diameter of the center core.  If you look at the first picture in the post you will see that the center checker is twice as long as the outer rings.  It looks somewhat out of proportion.  Making the two rings the same width as the diameter of the core will take care of that unevenness.

3) Have someone help you lift and refit the outer rings.  On my first try one of the outer rings cracked.  I was able to glue it back together with frosting but if there is someone that can assist you with that, that would be ideal.

4 Responses to “The Checkerboard Cake…just for fun”

  1. Kelly Says:

    Wow! This is really helpful! I was asked today to
    make a cake for my daughter’s friend’s Sweet 16. She
    requested a checkerboard cake. The only one I’ve ever
    made was with the plastic rings. Not impressed. Doing
    it your way, however, would allow me to make the
    different sized tiers, AND there’s no leaking of batter
    into the other color/flavor.

    Thank you so much!

    Long Island

  2. Regina Kamilar Says:

    I just tried your idea and it worked great. Thanks for taking the time to post it with pictures

  3. Emma Says:

    I just begun my preperations for my first ever checkerboard cake and I can’t thank you enough! I’ve been looking everywhere for a tutorial on how to make it the “old-fashioned way”, meaning without those special pans! This really looks amazing!



  4. andi - Monterey,ca Says:

    Thanks! I’ve been looking for just the divider rings for the checkerboard cake ~ heaven knows i have plenty of cake pans already… so, here you go! perfect way to do this, and the chocolate and white can each bake till they’re done, and no leakage (heard those were the problems with the rings). Thanks again for your photos, and time you took posting this….and thanks to your very cute granddaughters who helped!

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