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Losing my marbles: Marble Cake from Scratch 
Aug. 8, 2012 8:43 pm 
Updated: Aug. 19, 2012 12:08 pm

Research “marble cake” and you’ll discover a number of recipes for marble loaf cakes, pound cakes, Bundt cakes. Even sheet cakes! As overwhelmed I was by the options, I couldn’t be tempted to revert to the box mix. After some research, I made cake #1.

Cake 1: “Halloween Marble Cake” by a local pastry chef, Zoe Francois.
I’ve successfully made cakes and other desserts from her website, so when I came across her recipe I stopped researching blogs and scouring through my cookbooks and gave this one a shot. The batter tasted incredible and I was pretty darn excited how velvety and delicious it tasted! When it came out of the oven, I was deflated when I saw how much the cake sank. Upon closer look at her cakes, you can see the visible dip in the middle of the cakes. Silly me. Taste-wise, it was okay at best. Lacked much of any flavor and the texture was heavy and uninteresting. I took to work to let my coworkers eat it… they’ll eat anything with sugar and butter. –. Back to more researching.

Cake 2: “Mocha Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake” by Dorie Greenspan

I didn’t want to make a Bundt cake. I feared it would end up dense and more like a pound cake. But I’ve grown to trust Dorie and her recipes from her lovely cookbook Baking: From My Home to Yours. Since I needed this for a layer cake, I completed the test version in two round cake pans. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Success! While still heavier than what I prefer (or what you’d expect from say, a box mix), the flavors and texture were really quite good! The chocolate flavor came through very well; it was perfectly moist. I was sure I had a winner! I ended up using this for the client’s layer cake.

But I couldn’t stop there. I knew there were other recipes out there – but I hadn’t done true research about the ingredients, mixing methods, etc. A good friend of mine originally suggested using a favorite yellow cake recipe and add chocolate to half the batch. Sounds brilliant, right? THIS GIRL is queen of trying new recipes and not always taking great notes about what worked well and what didn’t. I didn’t have a favorite that I could recall. Tonight, I decided to change that. If I’m going to have clients calling and asking for cakes, especially a standard yellow, white, chocolate, or marble, I need to have ONE solid recipe for each. So I was back to hitting the books.
I don’t always love the recipes I’ve tried from Cooking Illustrated. I own the Baking Illustrated cookbook and have had some hits and misses. What I love most about their books is the thorough testing and explanations they go through to come up with the best recipes. After reading through other cookbooks and then moving on to this book, I read up on Yellow Layer Cakes. Turns out, they use a recipe and method that’s very similar to another favorite baker: Rosy Levy Beranbaum. OK, sign me up.

I got to work with making this recipe and, following the advice of my friend, divided the batter in half and added GOOD quality cocoa powder to half the batter. After much anticipation during the baking and cooling time, I finally got to cut a slice. THIS is a winner. I don’t even want to look any further. (I still want to test this again the traditional creaming method to see if I can personally tell the difference between the two methods…) But this… this is THE marble cake.

Yellow Cake - turned Marble!                   Adapted from Baking Illustrated
1 ¾ cup (7 oz) cake flour, plus more for dusting pans
4 large eggs, room temp
½ cup whole milk, room temp
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (10.5 oz) granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
2 T cocoa powder

Adjust oven to middle position; preheat to 350. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment. Grease parchment; dust with cake flour, tapping out excess.
Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla with fork in small bowl. Measure 1 cup of this mixture; set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in stand mixer bowl. Beat on lowest speed to blend, 30 seconds. With mixer running on lowest speed, add butter 1 piece at a time. Mix until butter and flour clump together and look sandy and pebbly, 30-40 seconds after all butter is added. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture, mixing on lowest speed until incorporated (5-10 seconds). Increase to med-high until light and fluffy (1 min). Add remaining egg mixture in a slow, steady stream, taking about 30 seconds. Stop and scrap sides and bottom of bowl. Beat med-high until thoroughly combined (15 seconds).
FOR MARBLE CAKE: divide mixture in half. Add 2 heaping tablespoons of best quality cocoa to one half; gently stir to combine thoroughly.

Divide batter equally between prepared cake pans… for marbling effect, drop blobs of chocolate and blobs of white batter; run a knife through batters, swirling to create marbling. Resist the urge to swirl too much!
Bake until cake tops are light gold and toothpick comes out clean, 20-25 min. Cakes may mound slightly but will level when cooled. Cool on wire rack 10 min. Run knife around pan to loosen; invert onto plat; remove parchment paper; invert onto wire rack to cool completely.

Aug. 8, 2012 10:39 pm
I love using the reverse creaming method as I think the crumb texture is velvet-like and the cakes bake flat with no hump at all. Nice you found a cake that works for you.
Aug. 12, 2012 7:27 am
thank you so much for this information on the reverse creaming method, I have never tried it but look forward to baking your recipe, I also reserved Rose Levy Beranbaum's cookbooks from the library.
Aug. 19, 2012 12:08 pm
Ok, totally random, sorry to invade your blog - but I love making the "cheese biscuits" recipe and it seems to have been taken off the site. Did you happen to write it down or print it out? I never got a chance to.
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