I’ve been making marble cake for as long as I can remember, even back when I lived in Canada. I’ve made it regularly since I moved to England too, partly because my son Alex loves it. In fact, it is always his choice when asked what he would like for a birthday cake. However I’ve evolved as a cook over the years and when Alex asked for marble cake once again this year, I was firmly convinced I could improve on the original formula. I was a bit worried about ‘fixing what wasn’t broke’ but I’m very glad I was brave.
On Alex’s birthday yesterday my husband took the day off work, and after a pancake breakfast we all went up to London to see a matinee performance of The Lion King in the West End. Not just for children, The Lion King is one of the most technically brilliant shows I have seen in the West End in a long time. The costumes, sets and stage work were stunning, not to mention the fantastically talented actors and dancers, some of whom were working with full body mechanical costumes. After the show we took a black cab over to Harrods for a bit of retail therapy (Alex had birthday money to spend) and then headed to one of our favourite London restaurants, The Criterion. It was one of those days I’ll remember forever.
But back to the cake, which we had at home with a glass of champagne later in the evening. Reducing the amount of baking powder and milk, and adding vanilla, as well as tweaking the method, made this cake even better than it was before. You will need two 8 inch cake pans, greased and floured or lined.
¾ cup butter, softened
1½ cups caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder (NOT drinking chocolate)
Preheat the oven to 325 to 350℉ (160℃ or 150℃ for a fan oven). The temperature depends on how fierce your oven is. This cake needs a warm oven to rise nicely but it takes quite a while to cook so you don’t want the heat too high or it will burn.
Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat lightly. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
Cream together the butter and sugar. It’s best to use an electric mixer for this unless you have very strong arms!
Add the eggs to the creamed mixture all at once with the vanilla and beat lightly.
Fold in the flour mixture, and then add the milk. Beat on medium speed for a minute or so.
Remove about half a cup of batter from the bowl and set aside. Pour the remaining batter into the prepared cake pans, being sure to get an equal amount in each pan.
Return the remaining batter to the mixer bowl and sift the cocoa into it. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add enough of the 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk to give the batter the same consistency as the batter already in the cake tin.
Now drop 3 large spoonfuls of the chocolate batter on top of each layer of the plain cake. Using a knife with a wide blade (an icing knife works well for this), gently run through the batter from one side of the pan to the other to give a swirled effect. Go slowly so the chocolate batter swirls can sink into the vanilla as you cut through.
Bake the cake layers for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a skewer, toothpick or piece of dried spaghetti inserted in the centre comes out clean. Keep an eye on the top of the cake so that it doesn’t get too brown.
Let the cakes to cool for about 15 minutes before removing them from the pans and cooling on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting with your favourite vanilla frosting.
Click here for one the vanilla frosting recipes I use.
If you like this recipe, you may also enjoy another one of my marble cakes, Cinnamon Dolce Latte Cake.