Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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German Marble Cake

This German marble cake is a classic recipe and so easy! It’s a super moist and fluffy coffee cake, marbled with vanilla and chocolate and baked in a loaf pan like a pound cake. Every bite is extra sweet and soft thanks to a sneaky ingredient: vanilla pudding mix!

I’ll never say no to a no-fuss cake baked in a loaf pan. For more easy dessert ideas, try my lemon yogurt cake and this soft berry streusel coffee cake.

Marble cake slices resting on a wire rack.


Have you ever sliced into a cake and gone, “Wow!” (cue the Owen Wilson voice)? That was pretty much my reaction the first time I cut into this amazing German marble cake. Firstly, I couldn’t get over how soft yet dense the crumb is, like the texture of a pound cake or muffin. Secondly, it had the most gorgeous, perfect chocolate swirl throughout the cake. I couldn’t keep a dessert THIS good to myself, so I’ll show you how to recreate it.

Why I Love This Marble Cake Recipe

  • Soft and fluffy. The texture of this German marble cake is unreal. Moist, tender, and fluffy, every bite is just the right amount of sweet and soft. It’s a German-style coffee cake, so the crumb is more dense than your average vanilla or chocolate cake.
  • Easy to make. The batter is simple to make and the cake is quick to assemble. Don’t let that gorgeous chocolate swirl intimidate you, either, because marbling a cake is very easy! If you’ve never done it before, I share my failproof swirl technique below.
  • Never choose between vanilla and chocolate. Marble cake solves the dilemma. Swirling two batters together? Genius.
German marble cake ingredients with text labels overlaying each ingredient.

Marble Cake Ingredients

If you didn’t guess from the name, this cake is a German recipe (over there, they call it Marmorkuchen). The idea of marbling two cake batters together actually originated in Germany– thank you, Wikipedia– but I’ve given my marble cake a bit of a modern spin with vanilla pudding. 

The rest of the ingredients are very straightforward, pretty much your baking basics. I’ve included some notes on what you’ll need. Scroll to the recipe card for a printable list with amounts.

  • Cake Flour – Cakes made with cake flour have a softer, lighter crumb than cakes made with all-purpose flour (think strawberry shortcake cake). If needed, though, all-purpose flour will work in this recipe.
  • Vanilla Pudding Mix – You’ll need one 3.4-ounce package of instant or regular vanilla pudding powder. If you don’t have vanilla pudding mix in your pantry, just replace the pudding with an equal amount of cake flour.
  • Baking Powder – Not to be confused with baking soda, another common leavening agent.
  • Butter – Unsalted and brought to room temperature.
  • Sugar and Eggs – Regular granulated sugar works best. Like the butter, take the eggs out of the fridge so they’re at room temperature, too.
  • Almond Extract – You can also use vanilla extract, or rum extract for a different flavor.
  • Milk – This can be whole milk, 2% milk, or 1%.
  • Cocoa Powder – I use unsweetened natural cocoa powder to flavor the chocolate portion of the cake.

What Does Pudding Mix Do in Baking?

This soft and fluffy marble cake is my “modernized” version of a traditional German marble cake. The update? Vanilla pudding mix. This little trick is a great way to add moisture and flavor to your cakes. 

You can use regular or instant pudding mix, just sift it in dry with the flour. It creates a wonderful texture and locks in moisture so the cake doesn’t dry out as quickly. Obviously, they weren’t doing it this way in Germany 150 years ago. But sometimes it’s fun to improve on tradition.

Yellow and brown marble cake set on a cooling rack.

How to Make a German Marble Cake

Before we dive into a big bowl of marble cake batter, you’ll need to gather said bowls (just three of them), along with a loaf pan. A handheld electric mixer works perfectly for this recipe, but if you have a stand mixer go ahead and use it. You’ll also need a sifter and whisk. Let’s get started:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients. First, you’ll sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. This includes the vanilla pudding mix in powder form. Skip the cocoa powder, as this comes later.
  2. Mix the cake batter. In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugar with the eggs and extract. Alternate mixing in the dry ingredients and milk, then give the batter a good whip until it’s smooth.
  3. Make the chocolate batter. Pour about half the batter into a separate bowl. You’ll whisk cocoa powder into hot water and then stir the mixture into this portion of the batter.
  4. Assemble. Now, you’ll pour the light and dark cake batters into a well-greased loaf pan and marble them. If you need tips on a marbling technique, I have you covered below!
  5. Bake. Bake the marble cake at 350ºF for 45-55 minutes. Afterward, let the cake cool for 15 minutes in the pan, but take it out before it cools completely. 

How to Marble a Cake

Marbling a cake is super easy. All you need to do is alternate adding the chocolate and vanilla cake batter to your greased loaf pan. Then, grab a toothpick and gently swirl the batters together. I like to do this in a side-to-side motion as pictured, but you can use a figure eight, or pretty much any pattern. Just be careful not to overmix! If you don’t have toothpicks, a knife works, too.

German marble cake resting on a wire rack.

Recipe Tips and Variations

  • Don’t overmix. As with most cake recipes, the #1 tip for a moist, fluffy cake is not to overmix the batter! Once your dry ingredients are mixed in and the batter is fluffy with no white streaks remaining, that’s mixed enough.
  • Check the cake for doneness. And don’t overbake! Use a clean toothpick and stick it into the middle of the cake as it nears the end of the baking time. If it comes out with just a few crumbs attached (no raw batter), your marble cake is done! 
  • Don’t let the cake cool fully in the pan. Let the cake rest in the pan after baking, but be sure to remove it after 10-15 minutes so it doesn’t dry out in the hot pan.
  • Add milk to the cocoa powder. Replace a couple of tablespoons of the hot water with milk for an extra moist chocolate swirl.
  • Add lemon zest. If you’d like a different flavor to your cake, try adding fresh lemon zest.
  • Add a glaze. For an extra rich German marble cake, I’ll sometimes finish mine off with a chocolate glaze!
Side view of a sliced loaf cake.

Can I Make This In Another Pan?

Yes, it’s possible to make this Marmorkuchen in a bundt pan or an 8” square pan. In both cases, you’ll need to double the recipe ingredients to fill the larger pans. (Pro tip: Use the “2X” and “3X” toggle buttons in the recipe card below the post to scale the recipe up.)

A quick note on baking pans: your cake will bake differently depending on the material and size of your pan. I use an 8” metal loaf pan, but 9” works also. Keep in mind that if you’re using a larger pan and more cake batter, you may need to increase the baking time. Lastly, cakes tend to bake faster in darker metal pans, while lighter metal or silicone pans may need a few extra minutes of baking time.

Serving Suggestions

A slice of German marble cake is perfect with coffee or tea in the afternoon or as an after-dinner treat. I love it with an eiskaffee (German iced coffee) in the warmer months, or a simple cortado. For dessert, enjoy this cake topped with a scoop of homemade ice cream, even better if it’s tiramisu ice cream. Don’t forget sprinkles if it’s a celebration!

A fork cutting into a slice of loaf cake.

How to Store Cake

This German marble cake is fine to store at room temperature for 3-4 days, or you can keep it in the fridge for a longer shelf life. Make sure to let the cake cool completely and then wrap it in plastic wrap or foil, or store it airtight to seal in the moisture.

You can also freeze this marble cake either whole or in slices for up to 3 months. Defrost the cake in the fridge before serving. Enjoy!

More Easy Cake Recipes

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  • Prep the oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously grease your loaf pan using butter or cooking spray.

  • Combine the dry ingredients. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the cake flour, vanilla pudding mix (in dry powdered form), baking powder, and salt.

  • Combine the wet ingredients. In a larger mixing bowl, whip together the butter, sugar, eggs, and almond extract for a few minutes, until the mixture turns light yellow.

  • Mix the cake batter. Beat in half of the milk and half of the sifted flour mixture, then beat in the remaining milk and flour mixture. Whip until the batter is smooth and creamy. Rinse and dry the medium mixing bowl that you used for the sifted flour; you’ll need it again soon.

  • Make it chocolatey. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and 1/3 cup of very hot water until smooth. Pour a little less than half of the prepared vanilla cake batter into the medium mixing bowl that you rinsed out. Whisk in the cocoa powder mixture till fully combined and smooth. This is your chocolate marbling batter. Reserve the rest of the batter, as this is your light cake marbling batter.

  • Assemble. Alternate adding the light and dark cake batters into your loaf pan. Then, use a toothpick or a knife to swirl the two batters together to marble them.

  • Bake. Bake the marble cake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  • Cool. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the pan and let it cool completely on the rack.

  • This cake will keep at room temperature for 3-4 days. Wrap in plastic wrap or foil to seal in the moisture, or keep it inside an airtight container.
  • To extend shelf life, keep the cake in the refrigerator.

Serving: 1Slice | Calories: 167kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 193mg | Potassium: 155mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 18g | Vitamin A: 320IU | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 0.6mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.



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