Marble Cake. I was very excited that the Basic Marbled Loaf Cake was chosen as one of May's recipes for the Tuesdays With Dorie baking group. The best part about making a marbled cake: the marbling itself provides endless opportunities for amusement, entirely apart from the merits of the actual cake! It's fun to assemble the cake, but the real adventure comes after the cake is cooled. Then it's time to cut it and see the actual marbling pattern. Each slice shows a different design, so the fun continues until the cake is gone.
My first marbling experience was in the summerof 2008, the third recipe I baked after joining TWD. Learning cool new techniques and enjoying the delicious results has been the hallmark of my three years with the group. The only marbling I'd done in the meanwhile was a botched attempt at some marbled dinner rolls, so I was ready for another try.
- The recipe was chosen for the group this week by Carol from the blog The Bake More. Her marble cake post has the recipe, if you'd like to give it a swirl.
- Dorie sets up the recipe in a way that requires us to select a flavor/color combination. The basic recipe is just that: basic, and it gives no flavors. Instead, Dorie lists several possible choices, and encourages flavor experiments.
- So before I could even start to make this cake, I needed to choose flavors for my two halves of the batter. I was very very tempted to make Dorie's cardamom + coffee variation but I had already baked a marbled coffee loaf with my first TWD marbling experience.
- I love the look of a classic black and white marble loaf. But with all that leeway to play around I didn't want to bake a simple chocolate + vanilla version. I looked at the suggested variations and saw one for chocolate and peppermint. One half of the batter is made with bittersweet chocolate and the other half has both white chocolate and peppermint extract. I actually don't care for peppermint baked goods and also dislike white chocolate, so this gave me a moment's pause. But I was baking this for an eventual book group meeting and many people aren't as unreasonably picky about mint and/or white chocolate as I am. My buddy Mike baked this cake a few days before I did and his tweets raved about the delicious peppermint taste, so that sealed the deal for me. I had (unopened) peppermint extract in the cupboard and a lot of white chocolate on hand, so there was even more reason to choose that option!
- For the white chocolate/peppermint half of the batter, I used up a bunch of bits of white chocolate of various brands: Guittard, Ghiradelli, and Callebaut.
- My biggest objection to white chocolate is its cloying sweetness, so to make up for the extra sweetness from the white chocolate, I cut the quantity of sugar in the cake batter ever so slightly.
- I baked my loaf in my favorite vintage long slim loaf pan. I stumbled upon a cache of these pans and have sent them to several of my baking buddies. From what I hear, a number of them used their pans for this week's recipe.
- With this flavor variation, Dorie advises us to marble sparingly so that the peppermint flavor of the light batter doesn't get muddled with the dark flavor. I layered the two batters carefully and very gingerly sliced a knife through them.
- The loaf rose well in the oven, rising above the rim of the pan.
- My loaf seemed to take forever to bake, even in this thinner loaf pan, which is usually much quicker than regular pans. The light part of the cake kept testing liquid.
- I baked this cake just as I was heading out of town for a week, so once the cake cooled, I just sliced off the end and wrapped the rest and tucked it into the freezer.
It's always an adventure cutting into a marbled cake - you never know what patterns will emerge. In this case, because I marbled the cake so timidly, the resulting pattern wasn't very pretty.
I was surprised at how much I liked this cake. The white chocolate taste pretty much disappeared and the peppermint was present but not brash. The cake had a tight and even crumb. My biggest quibble is that the piece I sliced from the end was a bit dry. The flavor was excellent, though, and I'm hoping that when I pull it from the freezer we will find that the inner pieces of cake are moister. At any rate, it will be delicious with a mint ice cream or mint-infused whipped cream.