Chocolate and Orange Checkered Surprise Cake



 This   finished cake will be 24cm(91/2in) x 12cm (41/2in) tall. This is quite a large cake and will give at least 28-30 portions and is the recipe used for the demonstration.

You will need 2 x 24cm x 4cm deep sandwich tins lined with greaseproof or baking parchment.

Oven Temp 180C/160C fan 350F gas 4-5  Baking time approx 35-40 mins.

The recipe below is for two 24cm sponges. You will need to make 2 mixings to give you 2 chocolate and then 2 Orange.

As stated this is quite a large mixing and although it can be made by hand we would recommend the use of a machine fitted with the beater attachment, if using an electric hand whisk take care not to over mix as you really require a beating action rather than a whisking action.


Recipe A. 

400g (14oz) Unsalted Butter.

56g (2oz) White cooking fat (Trex). 

456g (1lb) Caster Sugar.

510g (1lb 2oz) Egg   (9 large eggs).

560g (1lb4oz) Plain Flour.


For orange genoese add

juice of 2 Oranges. 

Finely grated zest of 2 Oranges.

Additional orange food colouring



For chocolate genoese replace flour with

454 (1lb 2oz) Plain flour

  56g(2oz) Cocoa powder.

 sieved 3 times.   

Chocolate colour flavour.


Mixing. (Sugar batter method)

  1. Ideally all ingredients should be at ambient temperature of 21C (room temp).
  2. Weigh the butter and white fat and place into mixing bowl.
  3. Weigh sugar and place this in a suitable container.
  4. Weigh the flour and sieve onto a sheet of greaseproof paper or into a  large container.(when making the chocolate cake you will need to weigh the cocoa powder and sieve together with the flour 3 times)
  5. Crack the eggs and place into a basin or jug (not plastic). Stir together with a fork .
  6. The fats need to be blended together and given a light beating before adding the sugar.
  7. Cream the fat sugar mix by beating thoroughly, if mixing by hand the back of a large wooden spoon is ideal, if using a machine  use the beater/paddle rather than the whisk.
  8. When the mixture is light in both appearance and texture Start to add the egg in small amounts beating each time between additions. At this point add any colour or flavourings you may be using.
  9. The egg ideally needs to be 21C. This temperature can be obtained by standing the container in which the eggs are measured in lukewarm water. (do not let any water into the egg)
  10. The egg should be added in 5 additions beating after each addition, taking care not to curdle the batter. If this starts to happen, place a small amount of the flour into the batter and continue beating.
  11. When all the egg has been added and the batter is evenly mixed, add the flour and continue gently mixing to form a clear, even batter. It is important to make sure the flour is mixed in but at the same time too much mixing will toughen the cake. A nice clear smooth batter is the aim.
  12. Divide the mixing evenly between the two prepared tins and bake on the middle shelf for approx 35-40 minutes.
  13. To test if  baked, gently press the centre of the cake with the tip of your finger, it should have a slight resistance and firmness to the touch. If it does not feel this way or is in any way "wet" to the touch, return to the oven for another 5 mins and then test again.
  14. When baked remove from the oven and allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before removing from the tin, this is to allow the cake to set before taking carefully out of the tin. When taking out of the tin handle carefully to avoid any damage and place gently onto a cooling rack with the lining paper still attached. Allow to cool at least 4 hours before processing.
       Note: According to your oven you may only be able to bake one sponge cake at a time, if this is the case the other filled tin will not hurt to be left for the 40 mins or so whilst the first is baking , just ensure that it is kept cool (in the fridge if your kitchen is hot) it will not harm it. 


 A smaller, quicker version, can be made using Recipe B .

You will need 2 , 18cm x 3cm round sandwich tins , lined with greaseproof or baking parchment .

Oven Temperature. 180C/160C Fan, Gas4, 350F.

Orange Base.

230g (8oz) Soft fat (Stork Tub).

230g (8oz) Caster Sugar.

245g (81/2oz) Self-raising flour.

3 Large eggs.

1 Tbsp cold milk.

juice and zest of 1 Orange

Orange food colouring to taste.

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly together for about 3-4 minutes until evenly mixed. If using a machine take care not to over mix. Divide the mixing between the 2 tins and bake on the middle shelf for aprox 25-30 mins or until baked.

When baked take out of oven and allow the sponges to stand for at least 10 minutes before carefully taking out of the tins and placing on to a wire cooling rack.

Re line the tins when cool enough to handle.

Chocolate Base.

230g (8oz) Soft Fat (Stork Tub).

230g (8oz) Caster Sugar.

3 Large eggs

185g (61/2oz) Self Raising Flour.

56g (2oz) Cocoa powder.

1 level teaspoon  Baking powder.

Chocolate color 

Sieve  the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together 3 times to ensure it is combined evenly then add to the rest of the ingredients and beat together for at least 3-4 minutes if mixing by hand. If using a machine take care not to over mix.

Divide the mixing evenly between the 2 prepared tins and bake on the middle shelf for approx 25-30 minutes or until baked.

Remove from oven and allow to stand in tins for at least 10 minutes before removing from tin and placing on a cooling wire.


Do not attempt to cut the rings for at least 4hours. This size will only need a 12cm cut and 6cm cut. The process is the same as for the larger version.

You can of course alter the colour/flavour combinations. e.g. pink and white, to suit your requirements.



 Forming the cake.

The bases need to be cooled for at least 4 hours. Ideally 24 hours. This gives the cake a chance to firm up and will make handling a lot easier. You should have produced 2 Chocolate and 2 Orange bases.

Remove the attached lining paper and turn the cake upside down. This will give you a flat surface. This needs to be "skinned". 

To do this lightly scrape the surface with a serrated (bread)knife, making sure you retain the flat surface. Turn the cake over. 

Take the top skin off and at the same time , ensuring that it is level, cut to form a base that is approx 30cm deep all over. To help achieve this we recommend the use of  some form of depth gauge (we actually use wooden slats). Do not waste the trimmings and crumbs, they can be kept in the fridge for up to a week or frozen for up to 3 months , one of the best ways to use this type of crumb is to make Chocolate-Rum-Truffles

The thumbnails above show the process of cutting the rings and setting up the four layers.

From each base you will need to cut  18cm, 12cm and 6cm Circles. Ideally round plain pastry cutters are the best to use but the correct size is not always available so you may need to make your own templates from card or you may be able to find the correct size in your kitchen, such as dinner plates, cake tin bases etc. It is very important to have the correct sizes, as your end result could be spoiled.

Place the base on a suitable surface such as a bread board or chopping board to protect your work surface.

Start by cutting out the 18cm, ensuring that your cutter/template is evenly positioned on the cake. This is best done using a thin pointed knife and following the outline of the template. Keep the knife upright and steadily move around the outline in an up and down motion making sure the point taps the board underneath, this way you will be sure that it has cut right through. Great care needs to be taken as it will have a big effect on the final appearance. Do not remove this ring . Next cut the 12cm ring and finally cut 6cm. Do this to all 4 bases . You should now have 2 chocolate bases and 2 orange bases all cut into 4 rings.

Take one chocolate base and one orange base.

Carefully lift the outside ring of each base and place to one side next to each other.

 Remove the 18cm chocolate ring and place inside the larger orange ring  and then place the 18cm orange ring inside the larger chocolate  ring. Do the same with the 12cm rings and then finally take the two centres and place them in alternate bases. You should now have two bases looking like "Targets"

Continue with the remaining two bases in the same way  to finish with four "Targets".

At this point you should check each base to see that they are level, you may need to lightly trim to make sure they are level. Have ready some boiled apricot jam. Spread the top surface of one of the base with the chocolate outside ring and then carefully place  a base with an orange outside ring on top, ensuring that it is square with the  bottom base. Continue this way to form four layers sandwiched together with the boiled jam. As you look at it you should see alternate rings on the outside ie. chocolate, orange, chocolate and finally the top layer should have an orange outside ring. Place onto a cake card/board of sufficient size . We recommend for a cake of this size at least 28cm (11in). You are now ready to coat and decorate the cake.

The finished Chocolate and Orange checkered cake

 Coating and Decorating.

There many good products on the market that can be used. We have used Renshaws Chocolate Flavoured Ready to Roll Icing. Marzipan can be used but is a lot more expensive and more difficult to colour and flavour. The choice is yours but the method of coating is the same.

When using Marzipan or Ready to Roll -icing the golden rule is cleanliness, not just from a consumers health point of view but also for the keeping qualities and of course the final appearance. Make sure the surface that you are going to roll on must be clean-dry-free from crumbs and definitely no flour anywhere near.

 Flour +Sugar +Moisture+Time  = Mould and Fermentation

Boiled apricot jam is used to attache the paste to the cakeand the boiling of the jam kills any mould spores that will occur naturaly in and around the jam. It acts as a barrier between the cake and the coating and helps the cake to retain its moisture and therfore prolonging its shelf life/keeping qualities.

Lightly dust your work surface with sieved icing sugar and using  a smooth, clean, rolling pin, roll out the ready to roll icing to a circle approx 5mm thick and big enough to fully cover the cake . The easiest way to ascertain the size of the circle is by measuring with a piece of string across the top and down both sides of the cake .

Brush the top and sides of the cake with the boiled apricot jam. You now need to transfer the rolled icing to the cake. You may be able to lift it off the bench and onto the cake with your hands , you may find this easier to use a rolling pin to help you achieve this. Great care needs to be taken to ensure the icing is placed correctly in one go as it becomes difficult to lift off and re position once the icing comes in contact with the jam. When in position lightly shape the icing into the sides of the cake  ensuring that it is smooth and sticking to the cake. Trim around the bottom to finish the coating. The cake is now ready to be decorated to your own requirements.

In the example shown the top has been marked/divided into segments and then decorated using pre-formed sugar paste flowers.

Slice of cake showing checkered effect