Easy chocolate marble loaf cake

This easy chocolate marble loaf cake recipe is made with sour cream for a moist crumb and dark chocolate for a deep chocolate flavour. The recipe is sponsored by Cacao Barry and the post contains affiliate links.

A loaf of chocolate marble cake sliced with a serrated knife

I love a good loaf cake because they are great for snacking, for a lunchbox treat, for serving with afternoon tea. My repertoire of loaf cakes includes: 

This marble pound cake recipe, adapted from Anna Olson‘s book, Back to Baking (available on Amazon), is definitely one to add to the loaf cake repertoire. 

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Slices of a loaf of chocolate marble pound cake

How to make marble cake step-by-step

This chocolate and vanilla marble cake recipe is based on a simple vanilla cake recipe made with sour cream for a more moist crumb. Some people overcomplicate marble cake recipes by making two separate batters and then swirling them together. So they make a chocolate batter and then they make a vanilla batter, both from scratch. Then they swirl them together in cake pan. I prefer to start with one basic vanilla cake batter, which you split in two once the cake batter is made. At that point, you flavour half the batter with chocolate. Here are the steps to make this easy chocolate marble loaf cake:

  1. Make vanilla cake batter: make one batch vanilla batter, enough to fill a loaf cake pan. I like a vanilla cake made with sour cream which makes it more tender and more moist.
  2. Split the vanilla cake batter in two: to achieve the marble effect, obviously you need batters of two different flavours and/or colours. Therefore the second step to marble cake is to split the vanilla cake batter between two bowls.
  3. Flavour half the batter: you have two options for flavouring the chocolate batter for a marble cake:
    1. add melted chocolate to one of the bowls, containing half the batter. This gives you a chocolate cake batter with a little extra fat, a good chocolate flavour, without contributing to the dry ingredients leading to a dryer chocolate swirl. I prefer to add melted chocolate. Make sure to use a dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa (at least 70%), with a deep dark chocolate flavour, and that is not too sweet. I use Cacao Barry 70% Ocoa dark chocolate, available at IGA stores in Quebec and online at Vanilla Food Company. Remember that real dark chocolate isn’t the same as chocolate chips or compound chocolates, which contain vegetable fats (often hydrogenated) and also more sugar. Consult my guide to the types of chocolate for everything you need to know about buying chocolate for baking.
    2. add cocoa powder to one of the bowls, containing half the batter. This may lead to a slightly dryer chocolate layer because you are adding an extra dry ingredient. On the plus side, using cocoa powder to flavour the chocolate batter of a marble cake recipe means that you are adding a deeper, more concentrated chocolate flavour.
  4. Swirl the two batters to make the marble cake effect: Once you have the two batters made, you must dollop both chocolate and vanilla cake batters, alternating in the loaf pan, to layer the two cake flavours. Finally, you can run a knife or a small offset spatula through the cake batters to gently swirl them without overmixing. If you mix the two batters in the cake pan too much, the swirl pattern will not be as nice so only run the knife through the batter a little.

Chocolate and vanilla marble cake on a blue plate

If you would like to make a chocolate orange marble loaf cake, you have two choices:

  1. add orange zest at the very beginning of the recipe when you cream together the butter and sugar. In this way, both the chocolate and vanilla cakes would be flavoured with orange
  2. add orange zest to only half the vanilla batter. This way, only the vanilla portion of the marble cake will have an orange flavour. So, split the vanilla cake batter in two: add melted chocolate to one half of the cake batter, and add orange zest to the other half of the cake batter. Proceed to layer and marble these two batters in the cake pan

Marble cake without sour cream

I like to add sour cream or other acidic dairy products (buttermilk, yogurt, acidified milk, etc.) to my cakes. Sour cream and other acid sources help to reduce gluten development when mixing, leading to a more tender, moist cake with a softer mouthfeel. This cinnamon chocolate chip bundt cake made with sour cream is a perfect example of that.  If you want to make this recipe, but you don’t have any sour cream, you can still make this marble loaf cake with crème fraîche (if you can find it), or better yet, greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Preferably, go for a greek yogurt with 2% to 5% fat, if not more, though this recipe would also work out with a fat free greek yogurt. Opt for an unflavoured plain greek yogurt, as opposed to a vanilla yogurt, if possible.

Slices of chocolate and vanilla marble loaf cake arranged on a white platter


The key ingredient in a recipe for chocolate marble loaf cake like this is the dark chocolate, which means you MUST use the best dark chocolate for baking because it is providing both flavour, structure, and texture to this dessert. For this recipe, I used Cacao Barry Ocoa 70% dark chocolate, which is a professional quality dark chocolate that you can buy in IGA grocery stores in Quebec and online from Vanilla Food Company. It comes in 1 kilo resealable bags as pistoles (which resemble giant chocolate chips) which make most baking projects super easy because you don’t even have to chop it to melt it!

Chocolate and vanilla marble cake recipe

This chocolate and vanilla marble cake is very easy to make (in fact, I whipped it up by hand with a wooden spoon and you don’t technically need a mixer). The marble cake is also very moist because it’s made with sour cream. Sour cream makes this cake moist and also helps give cakes a more buttery, moist mouthfeel. This loaf cake has a strong chocolate flavor too. This recipe yields the best marble cake that many other recipes claim to make, but few actually do. Make this marble pound cake cake recipe. Trust me: it’s that good.

Chocolate and vanilla marble cake
3.5 from 2 votes

Anna Olson's marble pound cake

This marble pound cake has a great buttery flavour and a lovely moist texture because it's made with sour cream. The chocolate cake part is made with dark chocolate. This marble pound cake makes a lovely accompaniment to afternoon tea.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 slices
Calories 352 kcal
Author Janice


  • 250 grams all purpose flour 2 cups
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 173 grams unsalted butter 3/4 cup, room temperature
  • 200 grams granulated sugar 1 cup
  • 4 large eggs room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 160 mL full fat sour cream 2/3 cup
  • 113 grams Ocoa 70% dark chocolate from Cacao Barry 4 oz, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Brush a 9×5-inch loaf pan with melted butter, then dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Set aside for later. For the loaf pan, I recommend either the Oxo Good Grips Non-stick Pro loaf cake pan (available on Amazon) or the Nordic Ware Aluminum 1 pound Commercial loaf pan (available on Amazon)

  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside for later.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until it is light. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the vanilla and mix again.
  4. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the batter, alternating with the sour cream.
  5. Scoop out half the vanilla batter into a medium bowl. Mix the melted chocolate into it.
  6. Dollop the vanilla and chocolate batters into the prepared pan and swirl them a little with a knife or spoon.
  7. Bake the loaf for about 70 minutes, or until a cake tester poked through the center comes out clean.
  8. Let the loaf cool for about 30 minutes before unmolding it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Notes

For this recipe, use a dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa and that isn't too sweet. I recommend Cacao Barry Ocoa chocolate, which is a 70% dark chocolate that is sold in 1 kilo resealable bags in IGA grocery stores in Quebec and online at Vanilla Food Company.

For the cake pan, I have two recommendations of pans that I like to use:

  1. Oxo Good Grips Non-stick Pro loaf cake pan (available on Amazon)
  2. Nordic Ware Aluminum 1 pound Commercial loaf pan (available on Amazon)

*Calories calculated based on assumption that loaf cake serves 12.

This post is sponsored by Cacao Barry. I was compensated monetarily and with product. Thanks for supporting the companies that allow me to create content for Kitchen Heals Soul. As always, please know that I wouldn’t work with a sponsor nor recommend a product if it wasn’t worth it.
Please note this post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you buy a product I recommend, I will get a small commission, and the price you have to pay will not change in any way.

cacao barry, chocolate, chocolate cake, dark chocolate, loaf cake, marble cake, sour cream, sponsored, vanilla

12 Responses to Easy chocolate marble loaf cake

  1. herbivoresheaven August 28, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    Yum! I absolutely love marble cake, though no matter how good the vanilla part is, I always desperately munch my way towards the chocolate!

  2. Medeja August 29, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    It’s good if you get inspired by those success stories 🙂
    I like marble pound cakes.. I am just not very good at making that nice swirl.. :)))

  3. connie August 29, 2012 at 3:36 am #

    This pound cake looks and sounds wonderful! I too am inspired by the stories of career changes you mention. You are one of those women too and, whether you know it or not, are also an inspiration to others. Hang in there!

  4. Peggy G. August 29, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    I hope to one day have a success story of my own – in a culinary path, of course! This marble cake looks absolutely delicious =)

  5. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite August 30, 2012 at 1:48 am #

    That is a beautiful cake – nice work! And one day I figure I will be reading YOUR success-story book 😉

  6. Wholesome Hedonist August 30, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    Feel the same way! I met Anna Olson and she is so sweet and down to earth. Shed totally makes baking accessible, even though you know how much hard work she put in to get there!

  7. Shilpa February 22, 2015 at 2:31 am #

    the marble cake looks so delicious
    i want to try but i dont get sour cream here easily , is there an alternative to this ?

    • Janice February 17, 2016 at 10:40 pm #

      I haven’t tried an alternative, but I’d use a full-fat yogurt. Let me know how it turns out!

  8. Mary February 17, 2016 at 9:03 pm #

    This cake was very dry! Wasted too many good ingredients.

    • Janice February 17, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

      Hi Mary, I’m so sorry that you didn’t like the cake and that you found it dry.I’ve never had that problem. I’d say crumble it and use it in a trifle with a boozy syrup, some whipped cream and fresh fruit. This way it won’t go to waste! Thanks for commenting!

  9. Ashley March 14, 2016 at 5:01 pm #

    Hi Mary! I graduated from a 4-year university with a completely different major. Decided it wasnt for me & went straight into culinary school. Now I am running a large-scale bakery. Go for your Dreams!!


  1. Bacon and egg pie | Kitchen Heals Soul - May 26, 2016

    […] of her beautiful homemade soda breads to tie it all together. I took the opportunity to bring over this marble loaf cake for dessert. It’s from a recipe that I blogged about ages ago but hadn’t made since […]

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