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Friday, April 20, 2012

Mocha Checkerboard Cake - Caffeine Cakes #3

It was my hubby's birthday. Last Nov.

My hubby loves chocolate and each year, I'll think of something chocolate for him. 2011 was Chocolate Enigma Cake, 2010 was German Chocolate Cake. 2009 was..... a failed mango baked cheesecake that he told me to dump after blowing candles because it smelt and tasted like grass. And before that... nothing.

This year, he had already warned me about making "pudding" cakes for him. He wants to eat cake and cream, not jelly or lots of fruits. He wants more cake than anything else. And since I learnt how to make proper buttercream, he has never failed to express his liking for it.

And so, I planned to prepare a plain old sponge cake with buttercream, and that's it. Make it old fashioned with peanut nibs (You can't find peanut nib cakes nowadays, right? Errr.. maybe it's just me who is blind can can't see them at the bakeries). And to add to the 'old-fashioness' I'm going to make a old fashioned party spread for him.

Now, how do I define old fashion. Something no longer in trend, LOL.

In those days, back in the 70's and 80's, from the pictures I saw most birthday parties seem to have a buttercream cake, with star pipings, fried chicken (or curry chicken, but kids parties were fried chicken), fried noodles, fruit (either cut up apple, oranges or watermelon, there weren't much imported fruits that time, even Kiwi was unheard of, lemons unseen), agar-agar (especially with coconut, tinted pink and cut diagonal), cordial and tidbits (peanut in shells, poured out Twisties, prawn crackers , added to crowd the table) . And that's what he had too as a small kid.

Nowadays, it's fondant cakes (or at least fresh cream cakes), western food, pastries and desserts, cake pops, fancy jellies, soft drinks in cans or packet drinks, salad, and I sure do know you will think of much more.

Fried Egg Noodles, Fried Rice Vermicelli, Store bought fried chicken, watermelon basket, coconut agar-agar, orange cordial and the CAKE!
(Ignore the girl)

Haha.. look at the food, does it brings you back to all the yonder years?
At least mine.

A buttercream sponge cake can be a bit plain in view as I am not good in fancy piping, like roses or whatever. Ahhh... buttercream roses... so OF, perfect for the theme, haha! Then I thought of checkerboard cake and let's make the cake with his favourite flavours, coffee and chocolate and peanut nibs are perfect with coffee.

And did he love this cake, you bet! He kept on saying, "Now this is what I call cake," and he loves how the cake looks.
It totally does not look perfect when cut, but to him, it looks special enough and taste is the most important factor of all. Hahaha.

Mocha Checkerboard Cake
Recipe source: WendyinKK

(If you can’t bake 2 pans at once, separate this part into 2)
6 egg whites (from Grade A eggs weighing 65gm shells on)
100gm sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar

Coffee layer
3 egg yolks
50gm sugar
30gm vegetable oil
60gm cake flour
30ml hot water
2 tsp instant coffee (Nescafe Classic)

Chocolate layer
3 egg yolks
50gm sugar
30gm vegetable oil
45gm all purpose flour
15gm cocoa powder
30ml water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 portions of Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 cup peanut nibs
Chocolate ganache made from (15gm whipping cream and 15gm dark chocolate)

1. Prepare 2 8-inch pans, line the base with baking paper. Preheat oven at 150(fan)/170C.
2. Prepare coffee layer mixture. Melt coffee granules in hot water. Let it cool down and combine with the rest of the ingredients until smooth. Set aside and do the meringue.
3. Prepare the chocolate layer mixture. Mix cocoa powder with very hot water. Let it cool down and combine with the rest of the ingredients until smooth. Set aside and do the meringue.
4. Weigh egg whites and record the weight. (keep in mind weight of egg whites + sugar)
5. Beat egg whites until frothy, add in cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks. Gradually put in sugar and beat until stiff (hooked peak).
6. Remove half the meringue (be accurate by weighing) and fold into the coffee mixture.
7. Fold the balance of meringue into the chocolate mixture.
8. Pour both batter into prepared pans and bake for 30 mins.
9. Remove from oven and place on rack. After a short while, gently release the sides and let cake cool down totally in pan.

1. Remove from pan and slice each cake into 2 layers.
2. Cut each layer into 3 rings.
3. Using buttercream as “glue”, paste the rings together, alternating the flavours.
4. Do a crumb coating with the buttercream on cake, put into freezer for 10 mins.
5. Remove from freezer and do a full frosting on cake.
6. Pat peanut nibs onto side of cake.
7. Pipe ganache onto cake.
8. Pipe stars on rim of cake.
9. Keep at room temp (if it’s going to be served soon), or chill in fridge.

*Take note that there will be an extra layer, I just ate those up. Or you can just stack another layer, but I’m lazy.

Oh yes, I'm sure many of you have always wondered, how do I cope with baking, cooking and 3 kids

good boy!


I am submitting this post to
Aspiring Bakers #18 Layers of Love (April 2012)


  1. Happy Belated Birthday to your Husband.....Like children birthday....hahaha....My boyfriend birthday also same like this...hehehe...
    Even thought it look abit messy when you cutting the cake but it come out look very nice......if me,i think more messy...hahaha.....good idea for mother's day cake...thank you...

  2. the photos make me the cake...:)

  3. Beautiful checkerboard cake you have made. I had wanted to try baking a checkerboard cake previously but thought I can get the mould here instead of cutting round pieces out. And your "magic" hand done it beautifully. Looks delicious as I am a coffee/chocolate lover.

  4. ohhh... I love this old-fashioned looking cake and the old-fashioned theme party food! And I was nodding my head in agreement while going through your post. aiyo... getting old.

  5. Mike, oh really got yourself a very old fashion man la...very cute and very easy to please as well!! and aiyo, that amount of work to asemble that checkerboard cake! ...and what's your girl doing with pairs of chopsticks in her hands? hahaha....You see or not? Reading your pages is not only about recipes's really fun and pleasure...

  6. forget to add ...
    love the pics too! Ask you a dumb question, how do you take the cake with the black background... place a piece of black cardboard/cloth on the table and behind?

  7. Gee,

    LOL, kedekut to buy equipment, mai make messy cake lor, hahaha.

    LOL, thanks

    a cutter of course will be nicer, but I've asked, but buy whole set of 3 pans + 3 set of rings, that's why I dun want.

    those days hoh, where got fancy cake and stuff
    The cut cake pics were taken with my fridge as backdrop, bounced flash.
    The whole cakes were taken with a black felt cloth (bought from daiso) with natural light.

    That's why I said, ignore that girl!
    She wants to be rabbit la, with whiskers.
    Haha, he actually didn't want anything, but I told him, do it for the kids. Not for u!

  8. enak banget kelihatannya...jadi pengen juga sepotong...

  9. Alot of work cutting out and also the risk of breaking the sponge...but still Sui Sui lah! Super nice....this is also one recipe that I want to try baking. But I have that special cake pan that separates the batter, heehee.

  10. I like your old fashion birthday party, this was how we celebrated birthday when we were young,,My husband is also an old fashion man, I bet he will like this cake too, must make for him in his next Birthday.
    Ya, Happy Belated Birthday to your hubby.

  11. so good boy....he like know mummy busy baking...hahaha....

  12. hahah remind my small small times party mum also will make the same thing...
    your little boy is so kacau at all ar???

  13. I salute you.. So rajin to assemble the cake like that. They have this special set of trays to make checkerboard cake right? You should get one then.. save the troube! I don't have one though.. why? I think I tak rajin nak buat.. but who knows after looking at your beautiful cake, I might consider getting one... will I?....hahaha...

  14. LOL...... I am having the same scenario at home.... worst is I am a full time working mom with 3 kids. I am glad too that I manage to have time to bake. I love this cake. I am gonna try this soon .

  15. Nice nice!....You are always a super woman to me!! Nice cake, now I'm planning for Cheryl's cake then only my hubby's cake! And of course with your advice....good buttercream...hehehe!

  16. Men! Many are very conventional, lol! My hubby didn't look very keen (or maybe he was playing cool) when his daughter told him mummy's going to make him a birthday cheesecake, blah!

    I like your hubby's birthday theme, really remind me of my childhood / friends / relative birthdays back then. Such nostalgic! Like your idea to make checker design, very unique... unlike the usual strip by strip one :)

  17. Oh! That's remind me the old fashion party..I should copy this for my husband's birthday in June except cake. U put lots effort to make this cake which is very nice. Did ur hubby ggive u a big kiss?;0P. Between ur baby so cute.

  18. Haha...same as my hubby. He refused to eat those cake with fruits and jelly topping. Like the butter cakes. I always address him "old man" :)

    Terima kasih

    Lucky you, then what are u waiting for?

    why ah, all men so old fashioned, LOL

    Haha, now not so good boy oredi

    Pei San,
    that time, not wai sek, so ok, Now he see the brown baking paper, he knows got cake somewhere oredi, cannot stop crying for cake

    I know got, but I'm too kedekut la. Cannot buy one, must buy 3 layers all together. That's why I don't want. Too expensive for a one time off cake. Rm70 for that mould and I don't make checkerboard cakes often. Maybe wait another 10 yrs for another one.

    then you are more super than me!

  20. Reese,
    try it and you'll feel the difference obviously!

    He's like a kid la, happy with chow bihun and fried chicken, so this party is so totally for him

    old fashion men dun thank wives with kisses, LOL.

    welcome to the crew, there's a lot of us!

  21. Wendy I'm speechless with this beautiful cake, but i still wanted to ask you cope with your baking cooking and your 3 kids? Me now with 2 kids also have limited of time and space. I'll remembered this cake for my hubby birthday too...(still long time dec leh). He is an old fashion man. Don;t like fancy stuff but he likes things with chocolates! *_^

  22. Wa...layers of love no doubt :) Lucky hubby hor? The cake looks delish and I prefer buttercream than fondant !

  23. Wah, you cook, you bake, do house chores & jaga 3 kids that's need attention, still can blogging, I really salute you.

    I love how you deco the cake, simple yet elegant!

  24. It was my hubby's birthday last week. I didn't bake him anything. I was simply too lazy to do any baking. My birthday coming up next week, not sure if I want to bake too.

    This checkerboard cake looks good, I'm tempted to make it one day. Don't know when though

  25. So rajin do the chequered effect. Looks very nice and nest after assembling.

    Must try and do this. Aiyoh, so many things to try.

  26. 爱心 cake!! Is a lot of effort and it looks so pretty and neat! (: I remembered you telling me that you've not much luck with mango cakes. Wait till mango season, try again? (: and your boy is so guai!! (:

  27. Very very very pretty. It is v fun to make this cake ya. Coffee n choc sounds nice. Want to try this . Haha, everytime I see ur cakes , I will be swooned by them n want to try them out . My hubby's bd was last week. I had lots of fun n excuse to whip out diff types of cakes I wanted to try out. I didn't even ask him wat he likes. Lol

  28. very nice checkerboard. i like that you use different sizes of bowls to make the circles. one more item for the old fashioned kids party, sandwiches. I remember there were always sandwiches around. i think the peanuts nibs still got :)

  29. Very pretty cake. This cake is well done with limited tools. Thanks for sharing the steps of doing the rings.
    I understand the trouble of baking with 3 kids :) my kids almost same age as yours. I have no problem with the two boys as they have their own programme. The problem is with my little girl. I prefer bake when she asleep. I'm lucky as she used to spend most of the morning having her naps. So can enjoy my baking.
    Have a nice weekend!

  30. You are really good at making and decorate all these cakes. I don't think I have to patience to do it. You hubby must be really happy with his birthday cake. I bought a checkerboard baking pan for years but have yet to try it out. It is still in the box. Maybe one day!

  31. Wahahaha so pandai wor....see brown paper mean got cake!! Clever boy!!

  32. Angeline,
    When the elder two grows up, they will play together and ignore you, don't worry.
    But my kids love watching TV, so, when i need to do something in the ktichen, BArney will take care of them.

    fondant is... err...... to me.
    I'll always go for function over form.

    haha, old fashion piping ma.

    Blessed Homemaker,
    Lazy then dun bake la, be queen of the day!

    Poh Lin,
    Nice ah, thanks, hahah, but still messy la.

    Hey, where have u been??
    Yeah, mango hates me, still does.

  33. Jaques,
    I am swooned by yours!

    Haha, sandwiches, yeah, but it was later right? Say somewhere in late 80's. Maybe it's just me never see before any earlier even from photo collections, or maybe Kampar ppl dun make sandwiches, oh yes, Here, ppl also put kuih, the 9 chang gou and those stuff, hahaha.
    Ipoh still have ah? cakes with peanut, i rarely walk into bakeries nowadays. Or is this those very old fashion shops? Gold vision tarak, right?


    yaya, same here, my elder two plays on their own.
    My boy nowadays also want to join the gang, but can't walk yet, becos I stoppped b/f, he's much less sticky now.

    Pass to me, LOL.
    I make you a cake in return.LOL

    Pei San,
    when ur kid grows bigger then u will also see how smart kids can be nowadays!

  34. Wow you are something else. How beautiful!

  35. Your husband must be very happy to see this beautiful checkerboard cake! yes, buttercream roses will be more romantic for the occasion but this checkerboard cake is equally lovely!

  36. Wendy, you are hilarious but you did make some very good points here! All those food served on the birthday celebration has definitely brought back some sweet memories to me too!

    When I 1st look at this cake, nearly pengsan! My standard is to make checkerboard cookies, not the cake, hehehe! Seriously, I've marked down the checkerboard cookies for ages but just haven't taken action mah!

  37. The cake is so pretty Wendy! Hahaha...And I love your boy at the background. Such a good boy! You're such a super mum! Would really love to try out this cake though.

  38. Dear Wendy,

    I have been a fan of your writes. Good stuff and even greater recipes. I saw your checkered sponge cake last friday and told myself I have to make it over the weekend for tea. Guess what....the cake was gone the moment it was iced. All my nieces and nephews were waiting patiently for it and even asked for second helpings. Butter cream was the fav in my era (I am in my 40s) and it is still my fav. Nothing beats more than a home made sponge cake with home made buttercream. Your hubby is one of the rare ones that appreciates the "old" stuff.....Cheers.

  39. Dear Wendy,

    I took photographs of the checkered cake that I made and showed it to my office colleagues. It was a brain teaser as all were trying to figure out how I did the checkered squares. Some asked whether I cut the cake into strips and "glued" them on or did I cut them into squares and paste them into a piece of cake...LOL....answers were unbelievable. Thanks once again for providing a piece of eye candy, a brain teaser to pick the brains on a monday morning and a trip back to the butter cream era.

  40. Tania,

    Ah Tze,
    Buttercream roses are more like old fashion to me, LOL, OF??

    u can la, dun do the cookies la, do this, easy what, just cut with a bowl as guide :)

    thanks, nowadays, he's crawling all over the house!

    thanks for the feedback.
    My hubby is one old man. LOL.
    Not many people seem to like buttercream nowadays, that is after their mind is tainted by the horrible ones from commercial bakeries.

    Can I see the pictures too?
    Mind adding me in FB and tag me with it, if it's posted in ur FB?

  41. Wendy,

    Sorry, I do not have a facebook account (still very old fashion). I can email you or apps you the photos if you dun't mind. You can email me at and I can email you back if it is not too much of a hassle.


  42. Hi Wendy,

    Can I ask if u hav learn a basic cake deco b4? I use to bake cake without deco. Im afraid I fail to deco n spoilt all my cake. Shd I attend a basic cake deco b4 I can make my own cake buttercream for deco. Is tht a must to have temp. & spatula for cake deco. Pls advise.


  43. Yvonne,
    I have never attended any baking courses or deco courses.
    It's up to you, whether you think you need to attend or not.


    A spatula will make it easy to apply, and smoothen out, just like you need a brush to paint.
    A turning board will make it easier, but not neccesary. I use a lazy susan bought from Ikea, much cheaper than buying at cake supplies shop.

  44. Porkie,
    the email is not valid ler....
    My mail got bounced back

  45. Cake is awesome.. first time here.. just getting thru recipes.. u hv wonderfull collection of baked goodies.. Happy to follow :)

  46. I made this yesterday. It was really nice. I love the texture of the cake. Thanks for sharing! :)

  47. Wendy,
    As requested, here is the link to my version of your cake: I must say, it's really a nice cake. This cake is sure to impress at any birthdays! Heehee...:)

  48. Hi Wendy, this is such a beautiful cake! The decoration's really pretty!

  49. Hi Wendy

    Thanks for your recipe and the illustration on how to make the checkerboard effect. The cake taste good. but my frosting skill really worse not bad. so... the cake outlook very plain as it also run out of buttercream :P

  50. Oh my! You have a lovely collection of gorgeous cakes! This Mocha Checkerboard cake looks absolutely stunning! Very impressive & love the flavor too! Well done! :)

  51. Combine the egg whites and the cream of tartar in a clean medium mixing bowl. Attach a whisk onto the electric beater and blend the egg white mixture at high speed for 5 minutes.

  52. hai.., i've tried and modified chocolate layer for my base cake. it's good recipe, thx. u can see here the result:

  53. Hi Wendy! I have made this cake for my mum birthday and everyone were surprised by the interior! The cake and the buttercream so yummy! Really worth the effort making own buttercream! overall just nice, not too sweet and everyone love it! Thanks for sharing!!
    Shuping :)

  54. Hi Wendy,

    Do you tink i can make this cake in advance and kip in freezer or fridge air tight? How long will it last and will it still be soft?

  55. Little Pretty Tots,
    Cake will still be soft if it's air tight.
    Just let it thaw at room temp, covers off.
    How long it can keep? I won't know.
    But I've kept my cakes for months before.

  56. Hi wendy,

    Thanks for the fast reply! But just to confirm that its the freezer that i shld put rite?

    Many thanks! Can wait to try the cake! :)

  57. Little Pretty Tots,
    Freeze if you want to keep for many weeks/months
    Chill if you only need a few days ahead, but you can freeze if you want.

  58. Hi, Wendy. I made this cake before and it turned out very well. Everyone loved it. Could i use the chocolate sponge to make black forest cake? Thanks.

  59. Hi Wendy, do i need to grease and line the pan? Please help. Thank you.

  60. Suba,
    Glad everyone loved it, sure it will work for black forest too, it's versatile

    Step 1 mentioned to line the base with paper. Non stick baking paper will work great. I won't advise lining or greasing the sides as this will cause the cake to shrink inwards.


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