How to Get a Checkerboard Cake Without the Checkerboard Pan

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A checkerboard cake is a perennial favorite at parties. Watch guests “oooh” and “aahh” when you slice open the tall, layered cake to reveal an intricate checkerboard pattern of chocolate and yellow cake squares. While checkerboard cakes are very popular, the expensive specialty cake pans and the difficulty make this cake prohibitive to bake. Fortunately, home bakers can create an impressive checkerboard cake without a special pan using simple kitchen items.

How to Get a Checkerboard Cake Without the Checkerboard Pan
(Amanda Miller/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Three eight-inch cake pans
  • Shortening or butter
  • Flour
  • Baking spray with flour included
  • Yellow cake mix
  • Ingredients necessary for cake mix
  • Gallon freezer bags
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Double boiler (optional)
  • 28-ounce empty can
  • 6-ounce empty can
  • Cake platter
  • Two cans prepared frosting
Step 1

Prepare three eight-inch cake pans by greasing with shortening or butter. Dust pans with flour, turn upside down and tap out the excess. Baking911 suggests spraying pans with baker’s pan spray with flour included.

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Step 2

Incorporate yellow cake mix and ingredients according to package directions. Pour a little less than half the batter into a gallon freezer bag.

Amanda Miller/Demand Media
Step 3

Melt ½ cup of chocolate chips in the microwave on half-power or in a double boiler over low heat. Melt the chocolate slowly to avoid scorching. Add chocolate slowly to the remaining cake batter until you reach the desired chocolate color. Pour chocolate cake batter into another gallon freezer bag.

Amanda Miller/Demand Media
Step 4

Clean empty cans and remove the labels and both metal ends. Place the 28-ounce can in the center of the first cake pan. Put the 6-ounce can in the center of the 28-ounce can, forming a bullseye pattern.

Amanda Miller/Demand Media
Step 5

Snip off the corner of each cake batter bag. Pipe chocolate batter into outer circle of pan. Pipe yellow batter into middle ring and chocolate batter into the center circle. Carefully remove cans. Repeat with second cake pan, but start with yellow batter in the outer and inner circles. For the last pan, use chocolate batter for the outer and inner circles.

Amanda Miller/Demand Media
Step 6

Bake cakes in a preheated oven according to package directions. Country Living suggests cooling cakes until the bottom of the pan is cool to the touch. Remove cake from pans and allow cooling completely before decorating.

Amanda Miller/Demand Media
Step 7

Place one cake layer with the chocolate outer ring on a cake platter. Apply a thin layer of frosting and add the cake layer with the yellow outer ring on top. Spread another thin layer of frosting and add the last cake layer. Frost the cake and decorate as desired.

Amanda Miller/Demand Media

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Tips & Warnings

  • Wash cans after using for each cake pan so that the cake batter from the previous layer does not mix with the current layer you are preparing. Work quickly when piping in the cake batter so the batters do not spread into the neighboring circles. Make sure to alternate the cake layers to achieve the checkerboard pattern.
  • Do not use a different batter for the chocolate mix because the density and cooking time may be different, creating baking problems.

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