Sunday, 12 June 2011

Knickerbocker Glory Cake - Checkerboard Cake Style

The first from the trio of ice-cream inspired cakes, comes the Knickerbocker Glory Cake, via the English Knickerbocker Glory dessert, quite a mouthful in all senses of the word! Layers of different flavoured ice cream, now transformed into cake, sandwiched with sweetened cream and raspberry jelly, topped with cream and chocolate and more! The idea was to get the feeling of fun and  decadence in the tall layers; do you remember tasting different flavours as you delved down into the glass?

Although perhaps, no longer a fashionable dessert, it holds fond memories from childhood for many people . It used to be one of the largest and definitely the tallest ice cream sundae desserts you could buy. This excerpt from Wikipedia explains the name:

'A knickerbocker glory is an ice cream sundae that is served in a large tall glass, particularly in the United Kingdom.
The knickerbocker glory was first described in the 1930s and contains ice cream, jelly, and cream. Layers of these different sweet tastes are alternated in a tall glass and topped with different kinds of syrup, nuts, whipped cream and often a cherry. Layers of meringue, fruit and even alcohol may be included but, as with an ice cream sundae, there is no precise recipe.
The name knickerbocker glory is drawn from knickerbockers, a type of long trouser traditionally worn by young children (but particularly young boys).'

While building up the layers of cake, the checkerboard idea came from my childhood; sweet memories of Neapolitan ice-cream; blocks of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry pink flavours. It's a fun technique and you don't need any special equipment, only good strong flavourings; vanilla, dark cocoa (Green and Blacks) and strawberry (try Crusha Milkshake flavouring for that 'pink' taste or strawberry jelly). 

Using a seedless jam or jelly makes for easier joining of the cake rings and whipping up the buttercream to mimic cream texture adds a light sweet finish rather than heavy fondant.

If you didn't want to use this technique you could simply make a marbled version or place the flavoured batter side by side as I did for the cupcakes:

Text Only Printable Recipe

Vanilla and Strawberry Cake :
8oz (225g) Butter
8oz (225g) Golden caster sugar
4 Large eggs
8oz (225g)Self raising flour
1/2 tsp vanilla essence for half the batter and 1 tbsp of milk
2 tbsp of Strawberry Milkshake syrup (eg Crusha)

Chocolate Cake :
4oz (110g)  Butter
4oz (110g) Golden caster sugar 
2 Eggs
2oz  (55g) Self raising flour
2oz (55g) of Dark cocoa powder (Green and Blacks).
1 tbsp golden/corn syrup
2-3 tbsp Seedless raspberry jam/jelly to join the cake circles and spread thinly on two layers
White Butter Cream for inside and decoration:

8oz (225g) Icing sugar
2oz  (55g) Butter
2 tbsp Milk
A few drops of vanilla or white chocolate flavouring to taste

Pink Butter Cream for outside decoration:

8oz (225g)Icing sugar
2oz (55g) Butter
2 tbsp Milk
4 tbsp Milkshake Flavouring plus a few drops of pink colouring if desired

Preheat oven 140c/120c Fan/275F/Gas Mark 1.
Grease three tins and line bottom with baking paper. Quantities are for three 7 inch /18cm cake tins. If you are not using all the mix in the tins and want to make a few mini cupcakes; weigh each colour batter in tin to get even sized cakes.
Cream the sugar and butter together. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Fold in the flour.  Divide into two. Add vanilla and milk to one and add the strawberry flavouring to the other. You can weigh each one to make sure you have the same weight of mixture in both, for two even bakes.
Make up the chocolate cake batter using the same method but add the syrup with the eggs and then fold in the flour and cocoa.

Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 20 minutes. Cook until risen and a skewer comes cleanly out. Allow to cool . 
Chill cakes before cutting out circles to reduce crumbing. You can use a special tin or simply use a cup or round pastry cutter for the centre circles, score with a knife and then cut out. For the outer circle use a saucer to draw around and cut out. Do the same for all three.

Warm the jam/jelly lightly and brush liberally onto the cut surfaces, swap the coloured circles and insert back into cakes making three layers. Finish by spreading a thin layer of jam/ jelly over two layers. Chill for 5 minutes.

Simple butter cream – whisk butter, and icing sugar and flavouring together. Add tbsp of the milk at a time until smooth enough to spread over cake.  The white icing should be slightly stiffer than the pink so the layers do not slide off. Spread the icing on top of the jam layers and place the final layer on top. Return to fridge and chill.
Make the outer icing but this time make sure it is well whipped without being runny. Spread and cover all three layers, use the rest of the white icing to pipe swirls on the top and decorate as desired.

While colours are important to the visual effect of the checkerboard cake, I would like to stress the importance of flavours. A quick 'thank you' here to the Malvern Tango Club for being a panel of tasters.
Meanwhile,  have a look in an ice cream parlour or store and pick some of your favourite flavour trios;
cherry, chocolate and almond or maybe ; blueberry, raspberry and lemon and sometimes there's pistachio, caramel and coffee. Some nice colour blends here but it would be boring if all we had was the colour of the ice cream and no flavour, so take it to the next level and research your favourite blend for your cake.  After a recent visit to the US Marble Slab Creamery - Ice Cream Parlour I am going to have to incorporate Butter Pecan into one future layer at least, delicious! Let me know if you decide on a favourite trio...or more.


  1. My word, this cake is ought of sight! You've score a homerun Pauline, in fact you've hit it out of the ballpark. It is gorgeous in every way and I'm tickled to see you make cupcakes to finish off the batter not used in the cake pans. Good show my dear!

  2. Pauline, I'm speechless. What a fabulous cake. Loved the topping and when scrolling down to see the checkerboard? Wow. I love also your marbelling on the cupcakes. You are so clever!

  3. I've never heard of this type of cake but it definitely looks pretty and sounds delicious.

  4. Now this is showmanship! looks great

  5. Thank you, glad you like it. Last time I made one of these checkerboard cakes was probably ten years ago and I loved it then. Maybe it's a fashion thing but I definitely have it back on the menu next month, can't wait that long again!

  6. This cakes look so beautiful! Thanks for the recipe!

  7. woaah... amazing cake! and thx for the instrucion picture Pauline! ^,^