I have many sources of inspiration when it comes to deciding what to bake – TV, blogs, magazines and my hubs’ insatiable appetite for cookies, chocolate chip to be exact. But often times I’m stumped or in a funk. The last time I just couldn’t figure it out, I took one of the most reliable baking book I know (by Dorie Greenspan) and told myself I would bake whatever the booked opened up to. When the pages turned to a marble loaf cake, I said to myself, “Dang – couldn’t I have gotten something a little more exciting…this couldn’t be more traditional and plain?”
Traditional. Customary. Conventional. Usual. Fixed. Long-established. Old-fashioned.
Plain. Unadorned. Pure. Bare. Simple. Natural. Ordinary. Normal. Everyday. Dull. Boring.
I almost talked my way out of making this cake and flipping to another page.
Thank goodness I didn’t because then I would have missed out on what turned out to be Delicious. Striking. And quite Out of the Ordinary and Enjoyable.
The ingredients are simple, most of which you already have in your cupboard. And the marbling could not be easier. Once you mix the batter, divide it in half and stir melted chocolate to one and keep the other plain. Then drop spoonfuls of each batter into your cake pan randomly and when you’re done, plunge a table knife into the batter and zigzag it a few times. And by a few times I mean like 6 or 8. Not 20, or you’ll end up with a mess.
So marble with abandon, as Dorie says, and you’ll end up with a treat that not only tastes great but looks oh so extraordinary.
Basic Marbled Loaf Cake
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup evaporated milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 8 ½ x 4 ½ x 2 ½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and place on top of a baking sheet.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
Working with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and alternately add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin with the dry ingredients), mixing only until each addition is incorporated.
Divide the batter in half and stir the melted chocolate into one half and keep the other half plain. Drop spoonfuls of dark and light batter randomly into the pan, and then plunge a table knife deep into the batter and zigzag the knife through the batter, making only about 6 to 8 zigzags. Scrape the batter into the pan.
Bake the cake for 1 hour and 20-30 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. If the cake looks like it is getting too brown, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 15 minutes before unmolding, then cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.