For approximate batter amounts and baking times for this marble cake (shown second from the bottom), see below; you will need to make enough batter to fill each cake pan three-quarters full. The batter can be made in separate batches for the larger cake layers.

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Ingredients

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Lightly butter the cake pans. Line with parchment paper; butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out any excess; set aside.

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  • Beat the butter and 3 cups of sugar in a mixer bowl until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated after each. Stir in the vanilla extract.

  • Add the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk, and starting and ending with the flour. Set aside one-third of the batter. Combine the cocoa (and espresso powder, if using), the remaining sugar, and the boiling water in a small heatproof bowl; using a rubber spatula, stir until smooth. Stir into the reserved batter.

  • Fill the pans: Use two-thirds vanilla and one-third chocolate (or mocha) batter, adding batter in large spoonfuls in a checkerboard pattern. Run a wooden skewer lightly through the batter to create a marbled effect.

  • Bake until a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean. Transfer to wire racks; cool for 5 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks; remove parchment and let cool for 30 minutes.

Cook's Notes

Approximate batter amounts and baking times for 3-inch-deep round pans: 6-inch: 4 cups, 50 minutes; 8-inch: 6 1⁄2 cups, 55 minutes; 10-inch: 9 cups, 1 hour; 12-inch: 14 1⁄2 cups, 1 hour 10 minutes.

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