Chocolate Ginger Chequerboard Cake

Chocolate Ginger Chequerboard Cake

Here comes the return of the chequerboard cake. I know I made one of these a while ago, but trust me, this one’s even better! The other day it was my godmother’s birthday so I made her this for the occasion – a four layer, chocolate and ginger chequerboard cake. Making really big, elegant cakes is one of my favourite things, but as they’re often for special occasions you want them to look perfect, and over the years I’ve found that these are really one of those things that you just need to practise in order to make really well. As a result I’ve constantly straddled the line between having slightly messy cakes and having way too much cake in my life. Therefore when the occasion comes round to make cakes for other people I leap at the opportunity, as it’s great practise and also a great way of showing someone how much they mean to you!

Most of the photos I have of the chequerboard inside this one are pretty dark and weirdly lit from this light-filled bottle next to it, but it still shows a little of what it’d look like when it’s cut into. A great thing about these kinda cakes is that they look really impressive as they are, and then when they’re cut into they have this surprise pattern inside, so you’ll get a lot of ooos and ahhhhhs! This one is also the first cake I’ve ever managed to get with really smooth icing. I’ve finally developed a good icing recipe which is the perfect consistency and will set really well. This means that with two layers of icing, a crumb coat and a finish coat, you can get a really professional finish!

The two cakes in this are also so insanely moist that they practically melt in the mouth and are packed full of flavour. Chocolate and ginger are two of my favourite cake flavours, so for me when they’re slotted in together the result is insane! Chequerboard cakes can be made with pretty much any combo of flavours though, as long as they go well together and have contrasting enough colours to make the pattern stand out. If chocolate and ginger isn’t your thing I’d recommend chocolate and vanilla, almond and raspberry, mint and chocolate, or anything else that takes your fancy.


Serves 15

Time: 3 hours, plus chilling and baking time


For the chocolate cake

  • 180g Unsalted butter
  • 100g Dark chocolate
  • 240g Plain flour
  • 280g Caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp Bicarb
  • 2 Large eggs
  • 142ml Greek yoghurt
  • 142ml Milk

For the ginger cake

  • 140g Butter
  • 300g Self Raising Flour
  • 1 tsp Bicarb
  • 5 tsp Ground ginger
  • 2 tsp Mixed spice
  • 140g Light brown sugar
  • 290g Golden syrup
  • 300ml Milk
  • 1 Large egg

For the chocolate ginger icing

  • 300g Unsalted butter
  • 600g Icing sugar
  • 150g Dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • ½ tsp Ground ginger

For the filling

  • 300ml Double cream
  • 25g Icing sugar
  • ½ tbsp Vanilla bean paste

For the chocolate drip

  • 100g Dark chocolate
  • 75ml Double cream

To Decorate

  • Crystallised ginger
  • Anything else you like (biscuits, sparklers, candles, chocolates etc.)


  1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Grease and line four 7.5 inch cake tins.
  2. First make the chocolate cake. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  3. In a bowl mix the flour, sugar, bicarb and cocoa together.
  4. In another bowl whisk together the egg and yoghurt. Add this mixture and the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture, along with 100ml boiling water. Whisk quickly until combined and then pour this into two of the lined tins.
  5. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean once inserted. Leave the cakes to cool for 15 minutes before turning them out onto wire racks and leaving to cool.
  6. Now make the ginger cake. Put the butter, flour, bicarb and spices into a large bowl. Cut the butter up into the flour with a round-bladed knife. When you can’t cut the chunks of butter any smaller go in with your hands and rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips. Shake the bowl from side to side every so often to get the bigger lumps of butter coming to the top, and rub these in until the whole mixture is like breadcrumbs.
  7. Then put the sugar, syrup and milk into a small pan and heat whilst stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Then stop stirring and bring the mixture up to the boil.
  8. Crack the egg into the flour mix. Then pour the syrup into the flour mix, a little at a time, whisking in between additions.
  9. When fully combined pour the mix into the lined tins and bake for 45-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Take out of the tin and leave to cool on wire racks.
  10. Whilst the cakes are cooling, make the buttercream icing. Beat the butter and icing sugar until smooth. Then add the melted dark chocolate and ground ginger, and mix until fully combined. Spoon the icing into a piping bag, fitted with a round nozzle.
  11. To prepare the filling put the cream, icing sugar and vanilla into a bowl and gently whisk until it just holds it’s shape. Then spoon it into a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle and leave in the fridge until needed.
  12. Now start assembling. Lay your cakes out on a board and compare the heights of them. They should all be the same, but if they’re not use a serrated knife to level them so they’re all the same thickness. This will mean that the rings will be the same height as they cakes they’re put into in the next step.
  13. Take a 5 and 2.5 inch smooth, round cookie cutter. Then in all four cakes cut out a circle from the centre with the 5 inch cutter, and then take the 2.5 inch cutter and cut a circle out of the 5 inch piece.
  14. Take the middle ring out of each cake and swap it into a cake of the other type (so the chocolate rings will go into the ginger cakes and visa versa).
  15. Take your icing and put a little on the cake board or plate you’re going to be presenting on, this will stop the cake from sliding around. Then put one of the cakes that has two rings of chocolate and one of ginger and put it in the centre of the cake. Pipe 1/3 of the cream in the pipping bag over the top and smooth it over with a palette knife.
  16. Then put one of the cakes which has two ginger rings and one chocolate on top and repeat with the cream and the other layers of cake, but with the final layer of cake don’t top with cream.
  17. Now make the crumb coat of icing. This is the first layer which aims to trap the crumbs and stop them from getting into your final icing finish. Take your chocolate icing and spoon 1/2 of it over the top of the cake. Then use a palette knife to gently work the icing around the sides of the cake. Smooth the icing as best you can so that it’s even, but don’t worry about it looking too finished at this stage. Then put it in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.
  18. When set, take the cake out again and repeat with the icing, this time making sure that the finish is super smooth and glossy. (A palette knife and turn table is really helpful for this!) Keep any excess icing for later and leave the cake in the fridge until needed.
  19. Now make the chocolate drip icing. Chop the chocolate finely and put it into a bowl. Then put the cream into a pan and heat gently. When the cream just starts to boil take it off the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Stir to combine and to help melt the chocolate. Then leave it for a couple of minutes so that it thickens up enough to be pourable but not runny.
  20. Pour the drip icing into a piping bag with a small round nozzle. Then gently pipe around the top edge of the cake, letting uneven drips roll down the cake.
  21. Take the excess icing from earlier and put it into a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle. Pipe rosettes around the edge of the cake so that the join of the chocolate drips to the icing is hidden.
  22. Top with the crystallised ginger and any other decorations you want (e.g ginger biscuits, candles or sparklers). Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Emma x

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