Buttermilk Marble Cake

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Adapted from a version serve at the 76th birthday of legendary Southern chef Edna Lewis, this cake is delectably tender & moist. As far as cakes go, this is quite simple to put together, and the chocolate cream cheese frosting is a beautiful surprise.


For the cake:

  • ¾ cup/170 grams butter, unsalted (1 1/2 sticks), softened (and more for greasing the pan
  • 2 ½ cups/300 grams cake flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ⅔ cups/334 grams and additional 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons/270 milliliters buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ounce/28 grams chocolate (unsweetened)

Nutritional Information

Nutritional analysis per serving (8 servings):
517 calories; 21 grams fat; 6 grams protein; 12 grams saturated fat; 5 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 75 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram dietary fiber; 45 grams sugars; 107 milligrams cholesterol; 368 milligrams sodium

The information shown is only an estimate based on the available ingredients and specified preparation. This should not take the place of a professional nutritionist’s advice.


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Using butter, grease a 9-inch tube pan, then dust with flour.
  2. Making the cake: Sift together flour, ½ teaspoon baking soda, baking powder, the salt, and 2/3 cups of sugar in a medium bowl.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (with paddle attached), place the dry ingredients. Add butter, and mix on a low speed until well blended – be sure not to beat. Combine the vanilla & buttermilk, stir into the flour mixture until just blended. Add the eggs, and continue mixing until just incorporated. Set aside for use later.
  4. Melt 1 ounce of chocolate in a heatproof medium bowl that’s placed over a pot filled with a few inches of simmering water. Take off the heat, then add remaining ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 2 tablespoons of very hot water. Whisk together until just blended. Fold ¼ of the batter, roughly 1 cup, into your chocolate mixture – this creates your chocolate batter.
  5. Pour the batter into your prepared tube pan, making sure to alternate your chocolate & yellow batters. You should have two layers of each, beginning with vanilla and ending with chocolate batter. Run a knife through the batter in order to marble it. Bake for 45-50 minutes. After the first 35 minutes, begin to check the cake – your cake should be a little soft in the middle, and when touched, just barely bounce back. Take out of oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes, then unmold onto a platter.
  6. Making the icing: Melt another 2 ounces of chocolate using method described above. Combine the cream cheese & sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment – beat until fluffy, approx. 2-3 minutes. Continue to beat, and add the melted chocolate. If the resulting mixture is too stiff, thin out with milk – add one tablespoon at a time until brought to a spreadable consistency. Spread icing on the sides and top of your now cooled cake.