Secret Design Chess Cake

Enjoy a slice of my Secret Design Chess Cake. Recipe and full instructions on how to make this gorgeous cake all in one place with a video too.

Since the first episode of the Great British Bake Off  where they had to make secret design cakes I decided it was time to show my own secret pattern cake. I used to make this cake when I was little and I haven’t made it in over 10 years. It was so much fun getting to make it again and I will be making it a lot more to make up for the time I’ve missed. I think what is also great about this cake is the flavour combination. Chocolate and vanilla cake in one can only be a good thing.

You can watch the brand new video I made about making this cake below

The cut open secret design chess cake

Here is how it looked when it was cut open – a gorgeous and tasty chess board. The colours were strong and the result was beautiful and tasty. I’ve made this for so many birthdays and events and it’s always a great surprise cake.

I fancy having a go at making little fondant chess pieces to go with it. Although I think that is definitely above my level right now.

Secret Design Chess Cake chocolate and vanilla cake chess cake

So this is the top of the cake topped with chocolate icing and white stars. I love these white chocolate stars from a supermarket they look so good on chocolate icing. While I made this I ran out of icing so it’s not as smooth as I would have wanted but it looks cute. I think if I made this again I would love to cover it with icing so it’s even more structured and smooth.

chocolate cake with white chocolate starts as a perfect surprise centre cake with a hidden chess board pattern inside

This recipe is based on a Mary Berry recipe and adapted to make this recipe work for the size and what was needed for each colur.

Secret Design Chess Cake Recipe

Secret Design Chess Cake

Sisley White
Enjoy a slice of my Secret Design Chess Cake. Recipe and full instructions on how to make this gorgeous cake all in one place with a video too.
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Decorating Time 30 minutes
Course Cakes, Dessert
Cuisine English, International
Servings 12 slices
Calories 250 kcal


The Cake

  • 225 g unsalted butter softened
  • 225 g caster sugar
  • 275 g self-raising flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 2.5 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Mix

  • 2.5 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp hot water

For the icing (or use the ganache recipe below)

  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 30 g cocoa powder sifted
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 200 g icing sugar / confectioners sugar sifted

Or Chocolate Ganache

  • 300 ml double cream / heavy cream
  • 300 g milk chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter


  • Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/gas mark Lightly grease two 7inch shallow cake tin. Line the bottom with a circle of non-stick baking parchment.
  • Measure the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs, milk and vanilla extract into a large bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer for about two minutes, until well blended. Spoon half into another bowl and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix the cocoa powder and hot water together until smooth. Allow to cool slightly, then add to one of the bowls of cake mixture, mixing well until evenly blended.
  • Spoon the chocolate mixture evenly into the two pans, if you have four tins the same size you can do the vanilla at the same time or wait until the chocolate has baked and wash the tins and repeat. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cake is well risen, springy to the touch and starting to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Allow to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack, peel off the lining paper and leave to cool completely.
  • To make the icing, melt the butter in a small pan, add the cocoa powder, stir to blend and cook gently for one minute. Stir in the milk and icing sugar, then remove from the heat and mix thoroughly. If necessary, leave the icing on one side, stirring occasionally, to thicken. Spread the cold cake evenly with the icing.
  • To make the chess board using 2 round cutters one medium and one small. Cut the same large circle into all the pieces and then cut the smaller circles.
  • When you have all the pieces – 3 per cake so 12 all together – interchange the pieces so the outer ring would be white and then the middle would be chocolate and the middle white again and vice versa with the chocolate large outside ring. Pile up the layers so they are in contrast with each other.If you want you can put a thin layer of icing between each layer to level the cake and stick the layers together but it isn’t too important. As long as the outside is iced the layers wouldn’t move too much.



Calories: 250kcal

Please note that the nutrition information provided above is approximate and meant as a guideline only.

Keyword Secret Design Cakes, Secret Design Chess Cake
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Before you ice the cake it should look like this

the secret design chess cake befre being covered

Happy Baking. I hope you like this secret design chess cake.

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19 thoughts on “Secret Design Chess Cake”

  1. 5 stars
    Looks good! I’ll be doing a post shortly about my chess cake I did last weekend! Slightly different technique, rather than cutting out the circles, just piping alternate chocolate & vanilla cake mix in the tin to create a ‘bullseye’ before baking! Pretty simple and works a treat! 🙂 x

  2. 5 stars
    Hi there,
    Thanks for this tutorial. I made a square chess board cake yesterday using this recipe and it turned out perfect!! Thank you so much for sharing, this recipe is def a keeper. I’ll be baking another one on Friday 😀

      • 5 stars
        Hi there!!
        It’s not on my blog yet as I still have to type it up – bit of a back log 😉
        I made it on Monday as a practice run for this Saturdays chess cake. I’ve ordered a full chess set figures all in chocolate. Tk goodness a staff member was having a birthday so I could practice hahaha but it turned out great & everyone was impressed 🙂
        I made a square one, but a pic is up on my Facebook page

        Will make a round one for Father’s Day 😉
        The sponge is really lovely and so easy to make

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  5. 5 stars
    THANK YOU SO MUCH for this post! I’m making a chessboard cake this weekend with chocolate cake and graham cracker cake. I think I’m going to use a marshmallow frosting so it is like a smores! I needed a visual of the process I had in my head and this post was extremely helpful!


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