Marble Cake Recipe (Classic German Marmorkuchen)

A Beautiful Marble Cake Is Actually Fairly Simple To Make!

If you are looking to bake a cake that looks sophisticated and fancy but really isn’t – you should look into baking a marble cake! This classic cake recipe incorporates simple flavors – vanilla and chocolate – that are likely to please simple and complex taste palates alike. The fun part with marble cake is that you can get very creative with the design or just stick to a simple light swirl of the batter – it’s up to you!

Our recipe below is not made from a cake mix but don’t let that scare you. Marble cake from scratch is very easy and uses ingredients no different than what you find in those pre-packaged mixes. The only difference is a few more steps – but you can do it… and the pay off is worth it. It’s a great cake to just have at home a a sweet treat or to serve up for friends and family!

marble cake cut with slice on parchment paper
Cutting into a fresh marble cake is such an adventure!

Here’s a fun fact: Did you know that marble cake is actually originally from Germany? Marble cake is popular in North America because German immigrants brought the idea over in the 19th century. The cake recipe was a little different back then – with spices and molasses making the “dark” portion of the cake but the concept of two colors swirled together still stands to this day!

Speaking of German marble cake, this recipe is another one on this site (like German potato pancakes) that is near and dear to Lisa’s heart. She grew up eating marble cake as a kid in Germany. Her Mom and Oma (grandma) used to make marble cake but usually in a classic round bundt cake form. Years later, our version in a loaf pan (we are moving and didn’t want to buy any more baking equipment) tasted just as good.

golden brown marble cake from top with slices

Of course, there is no right or wrong way to create the marbling in a marble cake. The only thing to know is that you shouldn’t over mix the batter. The colors are supposed to mingle but stay separate (see photo below) – hence the distinct marbling design. If you over mix the batter, the color will just become a light brown and have less marbling. It will still taste good – just not have the distinct swirls.

marble cake batter in red loaf pan
This is how the marble cake batter looked before baking!

When you go to serve it up, be sure the cake has cooled enough. Otherwise, it might crumble when you cut the slices. This happened to us a little bit because we were too excited to eat it – true story.

Traditionally, marble cake is eaten with no glaze or icing but you can sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar for taste and effect. It’s also a good cake to store for 2 to 3 days in a container. It should stay relatively soft and retain some of the moisture. We hope you enjoy this recipe for German marble cake – we sure did!

slice of marble cake stacked on slices with cake behind

Marble Cake (Classic German Marmorkuchen)

Yield: 14 Slices
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

This classic marble cake is perfectly sweet and fluffy to the touch. Complete with a golden brown crust, the chocolate and vanilla swirls inside make every slice artsy and unique - with a look that you'll want to serve up!

Ingredients

The Cake (General)

  • 3/4 cups butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 medium-sized eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt

The Chocolate Batter

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 355 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. If you don't use a silicone loaf pan, line your loaf pan with parchment paper or a coating of grease and sprinkled flour.
  3. Beat the butter which should be at room temperature, sugar, and vanilla extract in a bowl with an electric (hand) mixer for around 5 minutes until creamy.
  4. Add the eggs one by one and keep beating until the batter is smooth.
  5. Add the milk and mix again.
  6. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add it to the wet ingredients in a few steps to avoid the creation of lumps while beating with your hand mixer on the lowest setting.
  7. Mix until the cake batter has a smooth consistency and stop there. Make sure not to over mix!
  8. Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  9. Add cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons of milk to the rest of the batter in the bowl. Depending on the consistency of the batter, you might want to add slightly more or less milk (it should not be runny though!)
  10. Spoon the chocolate batter on top of the light batter in the loaf pan. Take a fork and move it through the batter downwards in a spiral motion to create the spiral/marble pattern. At the end, you can move your fork lengthwise through the middle of the cake. (see photo above for reference)
  11. Bake the cake in the oven for approx. 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Every oven is different, so your cake might be done earlier or need a little longer.
  12. After taking the cake out of the oven, let it cool in the pan for around 15 minutes. Then remove it from the pan and let it cool further. Make sure you give the cake enough time to cool otherwise it might break/crumble apart when you cut it.
  13. After the cake has cooled enough you can add some powdered sugar on top before serving it.

Notes

  • We have a silicone loaf pan with dimensions of 9.5 × 4 × 3 deep inches. This size of the pan is honestly a little too small for the amount of batter this recipe creates. In a perfect world, your pan should ideally be a little bigger. You may have to adjust the recipe if you have a pan that has wildly different in dimensions.
  • A silicone pan is a great tool because it makes removing the cake so easy once it's baked. If you don't have one a silicone loaf pan, just remember to line your loaf pan with parchment paper or properly grease and flour the bottom and sides.
  • Instead of a loaf pan, this cake also works really well in a bundt pan. Unfortunately, we didn't have access to one when making this recipe (we're in the stages of moving) but it is usually our go-to pan for marble cake.
  • Make sure to use actual cocoa powder and not pre-made mixes for hot chocolate (the drink)!
  • Keep an eye on your cake. If you leave it in the oven too long, it can begin to dry out.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 14 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 220Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 216mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 1gSugar: 10gProtein: 4g

This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice. The exact values can vary depending on the specific ingredients used.

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