For the July Daring Baker’s Challenge, Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to bake a cake. But not just any cake; she asked us to add in a special surprise for our eyes as well as our taste buds!  
A surprise cake.
Well, that could be anything. Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood set this challenge and gave a few suggestions…rainbow cake, zebra cake, a cake baked within a cake or a checkerboard cake. The ideas were endless and fun. However sometimes the cake gods seem to make up your mind for you. You know how it is… I was wandering around my local second hand store shortly after this challenge was announced and I came across an unused checkboard pan set. Someone had bought this set with good intentions but never got to bake the cake. For $6.00 it was mine. I had to make a checkerboard cake!

For those who don’t know what a checkerboard cake pan is have a look here. This one is just like the one I bought in the second hand store. The idea is to clip the separator onto one of the cake pan then pour different colour batter into each separate ring…lift the separator… wash the separator… clip onto the second cake pan and repeat and repeat again for the third pan. Now when I write it all down like that I realise why I had cake batter from one end of the kitchen to the other. Hmmmm, it is a lot of fussing for a cake. But then it is fun and the cake is fun!. Thanks Ruth! Great challenge making something I had never thought of making before!

Checkerboard cake 

Cake adapted from Brad

90g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
4 large
eggs
1 1/3  cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup plain flour, sifted
3 cups self raising flour, sifted
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
225g cup butter, softened
pink food colouring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a
set of three 9 by 1 inch checkerboard cake pans (Checkerboard Baking Pans are
sold in a set which includes three 9 by 1 inch cake pans and a divider ring to
enable you to separate the cake pan into 3 rings), line with parchment, and then
grease and flour.

In a double boiler melt the
chocolate over simmering water, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl lightly
combine the eggs, 1/4 of the milk, and vanilla.

In bowl of electric mixer,
combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add
the butter and remaining milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are
moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and
develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg
mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to
incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the
sides. 
Divide the batter
approximately in thirds. Stir the melted chocolate into one of the batches of
batter until uniform in color and colour a second batch pink with the food colouring. Fill 3 large pastry bags fitted with large round
tubes 3/4 inches in diameter with the 3 batters. I used large clip seal bags
Place the divider rings in
one of the prepared pans and pipe batter into each, pipe one colour into each section . The batter
should fill the pan about half full. Using a small metal spatula or the back of
a spoon, smooth any seams or divisions in the batter. Now carefully lift out the
divider and rinse it off. 
When piping batter for the second layer, pipe each colour into a different section than the first pan. Pipe each colour for the third layer into a different section again. Like this….

Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, re-invert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.
Now prepare your icing.

Easy chocolate icing (adapted from Allrecipes)

60g dark cooking chocolate
125g butter
3 tablespoons milk
3 1/2 cups (550g) icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder, sifted
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

In a large saucepan over medium heat combine chocolate, butter and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and beat in icing sugar, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth then adjusting consistency with milk or sugar if necessary.

Level the tops of each cake. You can use the leftover cake for cake pops!

When stacking the layers, use a very thin coating of chocolate frosting to adhere the layers without disturbing the checkerboard effect.

Stack each layer. Press to adhere well.

Ice all over and decorate as you like.

Cut, surprise and enjoy!