With a little food dye or melted chocolate, you can make a nifty checkerboard pattern inside your baked cake using regular cake mix and a few kitchen supplies. While some checkerboard recipes result in a three-layer cake, using a store-bought cake mix will yield a two-layer cake. Start with a white or yellow cake mix as a base, and color your checkerboard design to match school or team colors, or holiday and party theme ideas.
Mix, Divide and Color
Making a checkerboard cake begins with choosing a white or yellow cake mix, and following the directions listed on the package. Before pouring the batter into the baking pans, divide it evenly between two bowls. To make the classic yellow-and-brown checkerboard design, use yellow cake mix. Melt 2 squares or 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate and stir that into one of the bowls of divided batter. To mix other colors, choose a white cake mix, divide the batter between two bowls, and dye one or both using food-grade gels or tint.
Prepare Your Pans
Specialty stores and cake decorating supply companies sell inner rings designed for producing checkerboard cakes. If you have a checkerboard cake pan set, grease and flour the pans according to the directions of the pan set, and place the ring into your cakes pan. When filling your pan using the plastic rings, remove the rings first before baking. For regular cake pans, follow the directions for preparing the pans as listed on the box of cake mix.
Fill and Squeeze
A pastry bag, decorator bag or a zip-top style plastic bag makes dispensing the batter into the cake pans a breeze. Spoon the batter from each bowl into two separate bags, squeezing so the batter fills the bottom corner of the bag. Snip off one bottom corner of each bag if using plastic or disposable bags; for pastry bags, fit with a coupler first – no decorator tip is needed. Pipe a 1 1/2 inch band of batter around the outer rim of the cake pan, starting with the dark color first. Follow with the lighter color, squeezing the bag to create another 1 1/2 inch band of lighter color next to the darker band. Finish by filling the center of the cake pan with the darker color.
For a two layer cake, reverse the order of the colors to achieve the checkerboard trick. If you are using a plastic cake ring, rinse and dry the ring before inserting it into the second cake pan. Start with the lighter color batter, and squeeze a 1 1/2-inch band of batter along the outside rim of the second cake pan. Follow with the darker color next to the previous band of batter, and finish by filling the center of the second pan with the last of the light-colored batter. Once cooled, stacked and frosted, your two-layer cake will have a checkerboard design.