Several weeks ago my lovely reader Georganne requested a recipe for a marble cake. While I was very interested in complying and creating a recipe that she would enjoy, I was concerned about the implications of working with two very different cake batters. I had seen marble cakes that looked like the chocolate and vanilla cakes had very different textures. I wanted the chocolate and the vanilla to marry together in consistency but be stark in contrast of color and flavor. I wanted them to have a yin and yang relationship of harmony and distinction at the same time. So for a long time I pondered how best to approach this cake.
Some marble cake recipes have you make two completely different batters and then swirl the two together. To me this seemed like excessive work (you know I don’t like to do anything unnecessary!), but I worried that separating a portion of the batter and adding something chocolaty would not be enough. And adding cocoa or chocolate could have profound effects on cake texture.
After much consideration, I decided to just dive in and give it a try. You have to start somewhere, right? I decided to make a basic moist vanilla buttermilk cake and separate one-third of the batter to which I added a paste made of cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate and water. Here were the ideas behind this though:
- To achieve a batter that is very rich in chocolate flavor I would need to add cocoa powder for its hearty flavor presence with minimal textural implications.
- Cocoa is a drying agent so I would need to add liquid as well as fat to keep the chocolate moist and consistent with the vanilla batter.
- Adding unsweetened chocolate adds fat as well as depth of chocolate flavor.
- Using hot water serves to melt the chocolate, bloom the cocoa flavor and moisten the starches.
Sometimes the cake gods take mercy on me and allow a cake to turn out beautifully and delicious on the first try. This was one of those times! This cake smelled so heavenly baking in the oven that I had really high hopes. When I frosted it with a silky Rich Chocolate Buttercream and took a bite, I was on cloud nine! This cake has really deep chocolate flavor balanced with lovely vanilla warmth. It’s sooo yummy that I was going to take a picture with a bite taken out but I forgot to stop and kept eating until most of my piece was gone. Ooops!
The buttercream is really incredible too. It is sort of like a whipped ganache/chocolate frosting hybrid. It is smooth and full of chocolaty-ness. It is too soft to hold up under fondant in summer weather but it firms solid when chilled and would make a delectable filling with which you could pair a more temperature stable outer icing. I could eat it by the spoonful!
So thank you Georganne for nudging me to face my fears and take this cake on! I truly hope that you enjoy it.
And sincere thanks to all of my readers! I have reached a milestone of over 1,000 subscribers!!! Woo Hoo! You bless me every day. You make turning on the computer and baking until the wee hours of the morning worth while. Thank you, thank you for sticking around and asking questions and leaving lovely comments. You are the best!
- 1 ounce (30 grams) Dutch processed cocoa powder- 1/3 cup
- 6 tablespoons (90 milliliters) very hot water
- 1 ounce (30 grams) unsweetened chocolate
- 16 tablespoons (8 ounces, or 230 grams) unsalted butter softened
- 13 ounces (340 grams) granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs
- 2 tablespoon (30 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 12 ounces (340 grams) all-purpose flour- 2 ½ cups
- 1 teaspoons baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (330 milliliters) cold buttermilk
- 1 cup (240 milliliters) heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup (120 milliliters) mascarpone, cream cheese, sour cream or more heavy whipping cream-(4 ounces by weight or 115 grams)
- 1 ¾ ounce (50 grams) granulated sugar- ¼ cup*
- 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) corn syrup or glucose syrup
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ ounces (45 grams) cocoa powder (natural or Dutch processed)
- 14 ounces (400 grams) chocolate (dark, milk or true white chocolate), chopped, broken or chips
- 12 ounces (340 grams) unsalted butter softened- 3 sticks
- 2 teaspoons (10 milliliters) vanilla extract
- 6 ounces (170 grams) powdered/confectioner’s sugar- 2 1/2 cups
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Spray three 8-inch round cake pans with Baker’s Joy or grease and flour.
- Combine unsweetened chocolate and hot water in a medium microwave safe bowl. Let sit for one minute and then stir to melt and blend. If the chocolate is not all the way melted microwave the mixture in 15 second intervals until melted. Stir in the cocoa powder and set aside to cool while you prepare the batter.
- Beat the butter and sugar 1 ½ minutes on medium-high speed of mixer. Add eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Stir in vanilla.
- Sprinkle in dry ingredients to distribute. Turn mixer on low and mix to moisten dry ingredients. Pour in buttermilk and beat on medium for one minute until well combines and smooth.
- Remove two-thirds of the batter and set aside. To the remaining one-third of the batter add the chocolate-cocoa paste and mix for 30 seconds until well blended.
- Spread a thin layer of the vanilla batter that was set aside in the bottom of the cake pans (use about 2/3 of the vanilla batter). Top each vanilla batter with one third of the chocolate batter. Distribute the remaining vanilla batter evenly into the three pans and swirl the batters together with a butter knife taking care not to overmix the two.
- Bake the cakes for about 25-30 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out to a cooling rack. Cool completely if using immediately, or wrap in two layers of plastic wrap if using later. Frost the cooled cake with your buttercream of choice. Enjoy! Makes approximately 1 ½-inch tall layers.
- Heat the whipping cream, mascarpone, sugar, corn syrup and salt in an 4-cup microwave safe bowl and heat to just boiling. Add the chocolate; let sit for 1 minute and then stir to melt.
- Place mixture in a mixer bowl with the balloon whisk attachment. Add the cocoa powder and beat the mixture until smooth on medium speed. With the mixer going on medium-low add the butter ¼ stick at a time. Add the vanilla followed by the powdered sugar. Beat until light and smooth 1-2 minutes depending on desired lightness. Place in refrigerator or freezer to cool to desired consistency. Beat or stir to smooth and lighten before applying to your cake or cupcakes.
- *If you like a less sweet buttercream, skip the sugar in the first step and reduce the powdered sugar to desired taste.
- Inspired by the America’s Test Kitchen- Family Baking Book