Checkerboard Cake with Vintage Buttercream
Prep time
Bake / Cook time
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Delightful and fun checkerboard pattern in a cake covered with easy, creamy and delicious vintage buttercream that’s not too sweet.
Recipe type: Cakes
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12 - 16
For the cake:
Whisk together:
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (72 g)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (18 g)
  • 1 cup whole milk (237 g)
Bring to room temperature:
  • 1 ¼ cups / 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter (255 g)
  • 6 large egg whites
Sift together:
  • 3 cups cake flour (390 g)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder (20 g)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (4 g)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar (408 g)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (10 g)
  • 2 – 3 drops each of pink and yellow gel food coloring (or any color/s you prefer, you can also just use one color to make a combination of white and whichever color you choose))
For the Vintage Buttercream
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (84 g)
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour (105 g)
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk (354 g)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (2 g)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (226 g)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (354 g) or, if you prefer, 2 cups granulated sugar (408 g)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (10 g)
Equipment needed:
  • 4 eight-inch round cake pans (or use 3 pans, if you prefer)
  • 3 cookie cutters or pastry rings: 2 inches, 4 inches and 6 inches (you can also use just 2 rings but make sure they are evenly spaced in the pan)
For the cake:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Spray four (or three, if you prefer) 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Whisk together the heavy cream and lemon juice. Wait a few minutes for the mixture to thicken and whisk again. Add the whole milk to the heavy cream mixture and mix well. Set aside to come to room temperature.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  5. Add the egg whites one at a time, blending well.
  6. On low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients with the milk mixture. Start by adding ⅓ of the sifted dry ingredients, let it mix, then add ½ of the milk mixture. Blend in one half of the remaining dry ingredients together with the second half of the milk mixture. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and beat until smooth and well incorporated. Scrape the bowl in between additions to make sure everything is well mixed.
  7. Give the batter a few quick strokes by hand with a rubber or silicone spatula.
  8. Divide the batter in three parts. Mix in a few drops of pink gel food coloring to one part. Mix a few drops of yellow food coloring to the second part, and leave the third part uncolored. (If you are making only two colors, divide the batter in half and tint one half whatever color you choose and leave the other half plain).
  9. Transfer the colored batters into icing bags. Arrange the cookie cutters or pastry rings in the first baking pan with the 2-inch ring in the center of the pan, followed by the 4-inch ring and then the 6-inch ring. Pipe the batters alternately within each of the rings. Remove the rings, rinse off, wipe dry thoroughly and transfer the rings to the next pan. Repeat piping the cake batters making sure to alternate colors.
  10. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the center springs back to the touch, about 20 – 25 minutes. Remove the cakes from the oven and let cool for about 10 – 15 minutes before turning out. If you are freezing the cakes until you are ready to assemble, wrap the layers individually in plastic wrap and store in airtight containers.
For the Vintage Buttercream:
  1. In a sauce pot on medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter. As it starts to bubble, add the flour and salt all at once whisking continuously and let it cook until bubbly, around 1 – 2 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the milk and salt. For as long as you continue to whisk, there will be no lumps. As the mixture thickens, switch to a wooden spatula. Keep stirring until the mixture leaves the sides and you can see the bottom of the pot as you stir, about 3 - 5 minutes. The mixture will turn to a smooth, very thick paste. Remove from heat and give it a few more strokes to cool down the paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl to let it cool completely. Cover it with plastic wrap, pressing down on the surface to prevent a skin from forming.
  3. When the paste has cooled to room temperature, in the bowl of a stand mixer using the flat beater, start beating one cup butter until smooth. Add the powdered sugar (or granulated sugar) and beat until well blended. If using granulated sugar, mix it very well until fluffy. On medium low speed, add the paste one heaping spoonful at a time. Add the vanilla extract and mix until well blended.
  1. Place one cake layer on a serving plate and spread only a thin layer of buttercream so as not to detract from the checkerboard pattern. Repeat until all the layers are stacked.
  2. Reserve some buttercream if you are piping a border and transfer it to a piping bag fitted with any size star tip. Spread the rest of the buttercream on top and around the cake then pipe a border.
  1. Keep the cake covered at room temperature for up to two days.
Recipe by SugaryWinzy at