Dr. Seuss Checkerboard Cake
OH THE CAKES!
Oh the cakes you'll make
Whimsical yummy bakes!
Vibrant, splendid things
Slices to make us sing!
Inspired by Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places I'll Go, this checkerboard cake is a colorful display of magical cakery! I had never made a checkerboard cake before, so for a first attempt, it wasn't as challenging as I thought it might be, which means you can do it too!
Even if it had been a checkerboard fail, it tasted delicious! I used a traditional vanilla cake with a hint of lemon in the layers and covered in Swiss meringue buttercream. The wonky little trees are cake pops.
Dr. Seuss Checkerboard Cake
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours, 25 minutes
Yield: 10–12 servings
3 and 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 teaspoons of lemon extract (optional)
1 and 3/4 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles (plus more for garnish)
2–3 drops food color of choice
Swiss meringue frosting
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease four 8-inch pans.
2. Make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 5 full minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 whole egg at a time, beating well after each addition, about 30 seconds. Beat in the vanilla extract (and lemon if using). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.
3. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick.
4. There will be 8 cups of batter total. Depending on how many colored layers you want, divide the batter eventually between bowls. I used 4 colors, so I transferred 2 cups of batter into 4 bowls. I dyed 3 bowls of batter and left one vanilla, adding ¼ cup sprinkles to the vanilla batter. Pour batter evenly into prepared cake pans. Use an offset spatula to smooth the cake into the pans evenly.
5. After baking for 20 minutes, start checking for doneness. Insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
6. Using a 6-inch round cookie cutter, cut a circle into each cooled cake. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut a circle out of the 6-inch circle. You will have 4 3-inch circles, 4 6-inch circles (the outlines), and 4 9-inch circles (which are just a thin outline of cake since the centers are missing). Find wonderful videos online for a step-by-step visual of this process.
7. Make the frosting of choice. I prefer Swiss Meringue because it’s less sweet than traditional American buttercream, it’s easy to spread, and it holds its shape well.
8. Assemble the cake: Place one assembled cake round onto a serving plate or cake stand. Spread frosting evenly on top. Repeat with next 3 layers, icing in between each layer. Spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. I did a light crumb coating and put into the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. Then I added more frosting to finish off the cake with a nice layer. Decorate top and sides of cake with extra sprinkles, if desired.
9. Refrigerate the cake for at least an hour before slicing and serving, which allows for a nice, neat cut when serving.
10. Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for 1–2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.