Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Marble Loaf Magic

Sometimes things don't work out the way you have planned. While making the mid-August  layer cake, the buttercream became contaminated with grease while still in the meringue stage...which meant that it wouldn't whip up, so we started over. I saved the mixture, convinced that I could find a recipe that would work to used up that egg white and sugar mixture...with some butter added. I did find a recipe, but then it got too hot to bake and the mixture spoiled with the waiting. The thing is, I really liked the recipe that I found, so now that it is cooler, I made it anyway...starting from scratch.

As is often the case, I changed a few things, even though I'd never baked this recipe before. That's the magic part...proportions are the key in baking and if you keep the proportions, you can change the flavors to make what you like. The original cake had a white chocolate and orange or peppermint white part and a dark chocolate dark part.  I'm a big fan of coffee and chocolate flavor combined, so that's the two flavors in this marble pound cake loaf. I used some espresso powder and a tablespoon boiling water to dissolve it and mixed those into the 'vanilla' batter, along with 2 tablespoons of flour since I'd increased the moisture with that boiling water. I kept the chocolate part, but used melted chocolate chips since I was too lazy to chop up a darker chocolate. That part wasn't the best choice since it would have been a better cake with bittersweet chocolate, but it is still a tasty cake and very nice with a cup of coffee...or tea. The color contrast isn't strong with this combo, either, but it's a delicious one.

The key thing here is to allow enough time to really beat air into the butter, into the butter and sugar mixture and into the butter, sugar and egg mixture...then only beat enough to combine once you start adding flour mixture and milk. A few folds with a spatula will combine the coffee mixture with the 'vanilla' batter and the chocolate with it's batter. Light mixing once the flour goes in keeps the cake from getting tough.

The fun part is marbling. Restrain yourself when it's time to zigzag a knife through the mounded batters...less is more because then you will see...and taste...the two flavors.

You can, of course, go with a vanilla batter, a vanilla batter flavored with citrus oil, or mint or maple extract, etc. You can color a vanilla batter - chocolate and a mint green would be pretty and tasty, too.

This makes one big loaf. Top a slice with a scoop of ice cream and some syrup or topping or fruit and you have a decadent dessert.

Marble Mocha Cake
base on Double Chocolate Marble Cake in Dorie Greenspan's  Baking Chez Moi
Makes one loaf cake

2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons, 6 oz. 170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used non-dairy margarine)
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, at room temperature (I used soy creamer)
4 oz (113 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Stack two baking sheets or use an insulated baking sheet and on it place a 9x5-inch loaf pan that has been buttered and floured, with excess flour tapped out of it.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Mix together the espresso powder and the boiling water in a small bowl and stir until the powder dissolves. Set aside.

In a stand mixer bowl beat the butter on medium speed for 3 minutes, using the paddle attachment, or use a large bowl and a hand mixer to do the same thing. Add the sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes. Scrape bowl and beater(s), then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Don't worry if the batter curdles.

Reduce mixer speed to low and mix in the vanilla. Scrape bowl and beater(s). Again on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions and the milk in two additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until each addition is incorporated. Avoid over-mixing.

Put half the batter in another bowl. Add the reserved espresso mixture and, using a flexible spatula, combine the batter and espresso until mixture is one color.

In the remaining batter, using a flexible spatula, combine the batter and the cooled chocolate until mixture is one color.

Using a large spoon or a scoop, dollop the batters into the prepared loaf pan in a random pattern. Plunge a table knife deep into the batter at one end of the loaf pan and zig-zag the knife to the other end in 6-8 zags, no more. Don't go backwards. The fewer strokes with the knife will allow for a nice marble effect but not too much mixing.

Bake the cake for 80-90 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. At about half way, check the cake and tent with foil if the top seems to be browning too quickly.

Cool the cake on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then unmold it, then turn it right side up on the rack and cool to room temperature. Store at room temperature, wrapped well, for up to 4 days. Freeze for longer storage.

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