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4.89 from 9 votes
6-Layer Café Ombre Cake w/ Truffle-Fudge Icing
Prep Time
2 hrs
Cook Time
30 mins
A delightful ombré effect cake with a whimsically fun icing technique. You'll need 3 8-inch or 2 9-inch cake pans. Cake layers are baked in two batches.
Course: Dessert
Servings: 16
Author: Chris Scheuer
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups butter at room temperature
  • 2 ½ cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature
  • ¾ cup buttermilk (plus 3 tablespoons needed for cocoa layer)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • For the layers:
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • Truffle Fudge Icing recipe below
  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray 3-8-inch or 2-9-inch pans with baking spray* and line with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper lightly and spread to coat with a paper towel. Set aside.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Set aside. Set out four medium-size bowls. You will use these later after batter is made.
  3. Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add flour mixture alternatively with the ¾ cup buttermilk, starting and ending with the flour. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl several times in between. Add vanilla and mix well.
  6. Divide batter as evenly as possible between 3 bowls, about 2 ½ cups in each bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of sifted cocoa powder and 2 tablespoons buttermilk to one bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and 1 tablespoon buttermilk to second bowl. Third bowl will not have any extra ingredients added.
  7. Place half of the plain batter in two of the prepared pans. Place half of one of the cocoa batters in third prepared pan. Cover the remaining batter lightly and set aside in a cool place. (The counter is fine if it's not super warm in your kitchen. If it's a really warm day, place the batter in the refrigerator.)
  8. Bake first three cakes at 350 for 14-16 minutes or until surface springs back when lightly touched and/or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs. Cool on cooling rack for 5 minutes, then turn cakes out onto rack to finish cooling. Wash and dry cake pans and repeat pan preparation and baking instructions for remaining three layers.
  9. Transfer 2 cups of the icing to a medium size bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and stir well to combine. This will be the crumb coat for the cake which will help your icing to adhere well. It also prevents any bare cake from peeking through the icing.
  10. To assemble cake, place a small dab of icing in the center of a platter or cake stand. (This will help secure your cake. Set a yellow cake layer on the platter and top with ⅓ cup of the thinned icing. Spread to edges. Add a light cocoa-colored layer next and repeat with icing then the dark cocoa cake layer and another ⅓ cups of icing. Repeat sequence to result in 6-layer cake. Spread the remaining icing over the entire cake in a very thin layer. It's fine if there are crumbs in the icing. Set cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set the crumb coat.
  11. For the icing technique, place about ⅓ of the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a 1M tip. (you could also use a 2D tip). (Don't try to put more than ⅓ of the icing in the bag at a time or it will get too warm from the heat of your hands and will not swirl nicely.) With tip perpendicular to the cake begin swirling the icing in a random pattern (see how-to pictures). I usually start at a bottom edge and work my way to the top, then over the top edge, twirly and swirling as I go. Then I begin again at the bottom right next to where I started the last time, and work my way up. Continue working around the cake till you come back to where you started. If you missed any spots you can go back and add a little swirl here and there. Allow icing to set for 20-30 minutes before slicing. This recipe makes a large cake, but it freezes well.