Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vanilla-Fudge Marble Cake

Props to my brother for arranging his cake artistically for me.
 When my mom asked me to make a dessert for Easter this year, I knew it had to be something light, so I turned to an old classic - her vanilla-fudge marble cake. When she got this recipe out of the newspaper 20-25 years ago, it was referred to as a pound cake, but I hesitate to call it that. This is much lighter, perhaps due to the addition of buttermilk. It's a good all-purpose cake. While I've always eaten it plain, for Easter I dolled it up with homemade whipped cream and a raspberry sauce (just raspberries, some sugar and a bit of water cooked down in a pan - you'll get a recipe someday when I'm satisfied with the proportions - it keeps turning out too watery for me).

I talked to my mom about the recipe on Easter and realized that she used to do a few things differently than I do (even though I follow the recipe that she gave me!). First, she uses cocoa powder rather than chocolate syrup for the chocolate batter. She also really marbles the chocolate and vanilla when she adds them to the pan. I just pour the chocolate onto the vanilla. Now, since I use the chocolate syrup, this has an interesting effect - the more liquidy chocolate batter ends up sinking a bit and suspending itself inside the vanilla. It does it every time. I think this looks pretty neat. But a thicker, cocoa powder flavored batter marbled with the vanilla batter would look lovely as well. I don't know how much cocoa powder would be a valid substitute - maybe 1/3 c (for 2/3 c chocolate syrup)? If you're going to experiment, let me know how it goes! I'll probably just stick with my way (unless I'm out of chocolate syrup!).

I've included a picture of my workspace for your edification. This is the majority of the counter space in my kitchen. My kitchen is actually a good size, but the counters are very narrow for some reason. When I'm doing a recipe like this one, which involves several bowls, my mixer and pans, it gets pretty crowded. I long for a kitchen island, where I could spread all this out! But until then, I'll make do with obsessively putting everything away as I finish using it.

I also wanted to do a bit of showing off. I was particularly proud of myself this time around because the cake unmolded so beautifully. My mom used to make this in a tube pan, but I don't have one, so I make do with a bundt pan. That means that the top of my cake is really the bottom. While the top is the best part - awesome, marbley, and moist to the point of gooeyness - it gets hidden and instead the smooth, shiny bottom is visible. Usually, a good bit of that sticks to the pan, and my cake looks a bit of a mess - but not this time! May all your unmoldings be as successful!

Vanilla-Fudge Marble Cake
My mom's recipe, from some newspaper a few decades ago.

3/4 c butter, softened
2 eggs
2 3/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c buttermilk
2/3 c chocolate syrup

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 10" bundt or tube pan with baking spray.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter for about 30 seconds on medium. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating about a minute after each addition. Alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk, beating after each (I went with 3 additions of flour and 2 of buttermilk).

Reserve 2 c of batter, pouring the rest into the pan (unless you plan on marbling the batters - then set it aside in another bowl).

Add the chocolate syrup to the reserved batter and beat on low until combined (it will be much more liquidy than the vanilla batter, for obvious reasons).

Pour the chocolate batter into your pan, over the vanilla. (If you wish to marble them, you can alternate ladles full of each batter into the pan until it is full, then run a knife through it to blend them a little.)

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes on a wire rack before unmolding (I think I waited slightly longer, but the cake was still a bit warm when I did it and I had no trouble).

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