I suppose a checkerboard cake is terribly retro. As early as the late 19th century, American bakers were already engrossed with incorporating patterns into food. Such experiments usually had the terms “harlequin” or “neapolitan” in their names.
Dated though the dessert may be but its appeal can’t be denied. Who can resist that checkerboard pattern, a result of alternating layers that are stacked and sliced? Any color combination can be used but I stick with the classic trio of alternating layers of chocolate and yellow butter cake. The cake is held together and topped with a chocolate frosting supple enough to be swirled with an offset spatula. Thank goodness for that, because I dislike decorating.
There’s nothing to it, really. Braver baking souls spoon or pipe the batters into rings in round cake pans. But for the timid-hearted like myself, the effect is made easier with this pan, which I use.
Incidentally, this is the cake that my daughter and I make to celebrate my Bin’s birthday. In our family, we extend the birthday to a birthday week, just because a birthday is too short. And because today is the last day of July, this is a good way to bid farewell to my Bin’s birth month, and say hello to Boo’s birthday month in August. I’m already thinking of what cake to make for her.
The recipe I use: here