Sunday, 3 January 2010

The 21st Century Housewife's© Marble Cake

Tomorrow is my son's birthday, so today we are making birthday cake. I love making all kinds of cakes - from plain and simple white cake to chocolate extravaganzas - but as far as my son is concerned, the only cake that is really a birthday cake is a marble cake.

I had forgotten about marble cake for years, until we had one when we were visiting the US when my son was little, and I was reminded how much I had loved them myself as a kid. I developed my own recipe when we got home, using one of my vanilla cake recipes and going from there. A few years have gone by since then, and both the cake and I have evolved a bit, but it is still my (now nearly grown up) son's favourite.

I've photographed a single layer of the cake un-iced, so that you can see the pretty pattern on the top. The pattern runs right through the cake, so it looks gorgeous when it is cut. My recipe makes a two layer cake, and I always sandwich it together with vanilla icing - either homemade or Betty Crocker, depending on how much time I have. Then I ice the top and sides and decorate it with Hershey's Kisses or other chocolate candies. I like how the chocolate candy against the vanilla icing hints at the mix of flavour and colour inside.

You really do need an electric mixer for this one, unless you have extremely strong arms and lots of stamina!

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 and 1/2 cups white sugar (superfine or caster sugar if possible)
4 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 and 1/4 cups milk (reserve 2 tablespoons from this)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350℉ or 160℃. Grease and flour two eight inch round pans.

Using the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Gently blend this mixture into the buttery eggy mixture on very low speed. Now add the the milk - EXCEPT the 2 tablespoons you have reserved. Blend the mixture on low speed until it is smooth and then beat for on a higher speed for about a minute.

At this point, remove about 5 generous spoonfuls of batter from the mixture and place in a small bowl.

Add the vanilla to the batter in the large mixer bowl and blend thoroughly. Divide this batter between the two baking pans.

Now take the batter in the small bowl and sift the cocoa powder into it. Add the reserved 2 tbsp of milk. Stir to blend together well.

Using a spoon, dollop the chocolate batter over the top of the vanilla batter in the baking pans, about three well-spaced dollops per pan. Gently run a knife from one side of each pan to the other, cutting the chocolate and vanilla mixture together. You want to see streaks of chocolate through the vanilla. Be careful not to over-blend.

Place the pans in the oven and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a piece of dried spaghetti inserted into the centre of the cake layers comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for about ten minutes. Carefully remove from the pans and cool on wire racks. Allow to cool completely before icing and decorating.