Old-Fashioned Marble Cake

Chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, vanilla... when you can't decide which flavor you like best, have both! This striking-looking cake gives you a taste of each of America's two most popular flavors in every luscious bite. We like to bake this cake in a long, slim cake/loaf pan, then slice it like bread, and use it as a tasty base for ice cream and fudge sauce.

Recipe updated March 31, 2018; see "tips," below, for details.

25 mins
1 hr to 1 hr 15 mins
2 hrs
one cake
Old-Fashioned Marble Cake


Prevent your screen from going dark as you follow along.
  1. Lightly grease a 12" x 4" x 2 1/2" tea loaf pan (first choice), or 9" x 5" bread loaf pan (second choice). If you're using the tea loaf pan, preheat the oven to 350°F. If you're using the bread loaf pan, preheat the oven to 325°F.

  2. To make the vanilla batter: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.

  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time; once all the eggs have been added, scrape the bowl, then beat the batter on high speed for 5 minutes, until it's creamy and light.

  4. Beat in the salt, vanilla or other flavor, and baking powder, then stir in the milk alternately with the flour, beginning and ending with the flour.

  5. To make the chocolate batter: Take one-third of the batter (about 1 1/2 cups, about 11 3/4 ounces, 336g), and place it in a small bowl.

  6. Stir in the cocoa powder, melted butter, and espresso powder.

  7. Spread a cup of vanilla batter (about 8 ounces, 225g) in the bottom of the pan.

  8. Dollop on 3/4 cup (about 7 ounces, 198g) chocolate batter, then repeat with another heaping cup of vanilla batter, the remainder of the chocolate, and top with the rest of the vanilla batter. So you'll have three vanilla and two chocolate layers. There's no need to swirl the batters together to get a marbled effect; just dolloping one atop the other has pretty much done that for you.

  9. Sprinkle the top of the cake heavily with coarse sparkling sugar, if desired.

  10. To bake the cake: If you are using a tea loaf pan (12" x 4" x 2 1/2" pan), bake the cake for 60 to 65 minutes, tenting it lightly with foil after 50 minutes. Test it with a cake tester; if it's not quite done, give it another 5 minutes.

  11. If you're using a bread loaf pan (9" x 5" pan), bake the cake for about 70 to 75 minutes, tenting it with foil after 60 minutes. Test it with a cake tester to make sure the center is baked all the way through; if it's not, keep baking until it is.

  12. Remove the cake from the oven, and after 10 minutes turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

  13. Store, well-wrapped, at room temperature for 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Tips from our Bakers

  • For authentic old-fashioned bakery taste, try 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Princess Cake and Cookie Flavor.
  • As a result of reader feedback, we've reduced the amount of batter to better fit the choice of pans called for.